|“Is AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation”|
Wednesday, August 9, 2017
In recent news, two of the biggest names in tech have been facing off in a showdown over the perils of artificial intelligence (AI).
In one corner, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, Elon Musk; in the other, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg. For years Musk has warned that “AI is a fundamental risk to the existence of human civilisation”, while Zuckerberg says he is “optimistic” about the possibilities AI offers. So who is right about the perils of AI?
It’s an issue worth pondering. AI is already an integral part of our everyday lives. It’s giving us information and helping us with our daily tasks on our phones and computers, in the form of Apple’s Siri and Android’s Cortana; it’s translating languages on Google Translate; and it’s now officially better at the complex game Go than everyone else on the planet. And it’s only going to become more ubiquitous. AI is, for example, an essential component of autonomous cars, which are set to take over our roads in the near future.
But while these are positive examples of AI enhancing our lives, there are also examples of AI that make one pause, such as when Microsoft’s AI chatbot, Tay, resorted to spouting racist, misogynistic and anti-Semitic slurs after only 24 hours of interacting with humans on Twitter.
In response to one of Tay’s tweets, Musk replied, “Will be interesting to see what the mean time to Hitler is for these bots. Only took Microsoft’s Tay a day.”
So the question is: could AI eventually take over the world?
Elon Musk on AI
According to Musk, people just don’t appreciate how quickly AI technology is currently developing.
At the International Space Station (ISS) R&D conference in Washington DC on 19 July, Musk said this during a Q&A session: “I think it is difficult to appreciate just how far artificial intelligence has advanced and how fast it is advancing because we have a double exponential at work: we have exponential increase in hardware capability, and we have an exponential increase in software talent that is going into AI. So when you have a double exponential, it’s very difficult to predict. Real predictions are almost always going to be too conservative.”
His fear is not robots rising up and taking over the world; what is more likely, he thinks, is in fact much more sinister.
In an interview with CNN, Musk said: “It would be fairly obvious if you saw a robot walking around talking and behaving like a person … What’s not obvious is a huge server bank in a dark vault somewhere with intelligence that’s potential vastly greater than what a human mind can do. I mean, it’s eyes and ears would be everywhere, [in] every camera, every microphone, every device that’s network accessible. That’s really what AI means.”
He went on to say: “If we’re not careful about the advent of AI, it’s possible that there could be what’s called a ‘bad utility function’ … Humanity’s position on this planet is dependent on its intelligence, so if our intelligence is exceeded, it’s unlikely we will remain in charge of the planet.”
Mark Zuckerberg on AI
Zuckerberg’s take on the matter is decidedly sunnier.
In a Facebook Live broadcast on 20 July, he said: “If you’re arguing against AI, then you’re arguing against safer cars that aren’t going to have accidents. And you’re arguing against being able to better diagnose people when they’re sick. I just don’t see how, in good conscience, some people can do that. I’m just much more optimistic on this, in general, than probably a lot of folks are.”
It’s no secret that Facebook are investing heavily in AI, and that Zuckerberg has ambitions for Facebook that are reliant on the technology. In December 2016 last year, Zuckerberg previewed an AI assistant he had built for his home. In the video, the assistant, Jarvis, voiced by none other than Morgan Freeman, shot t-shirts out of a cannon, spoke Mandarin with Zuckerberg’s daughter, and use facial recognition software to see that Zuckerberg’s parents were at the door.
It was also reported just this week that Facebook’s translations, of which it makes about 4.5 billion a day, are now completely powered by AI. By using neural networks that use a machine-learning component known as a long short-term memory (LTSM) network, the new system can now, according to a company blog post, “account for context, slang, typos, abbreviations and intent simultaneously”.
And just last week, Facebook were slammed in the press for an AI experiment involving chatbots that had gone slightly awry. Built by Facebook Artificial Intelligence Research, the bots were designed to learn how to barter and trade by mimicking humans. But when the bots were paired against each other, they began to diverge from English into what seemed to be their own language. The headlines were sensationalist; one article read, “Facebook engineers panic, pull plug on AI after bots develop their own language”.
One of the researchers, Dhruv Batra, spoke out about the reporting, saying, “While the idea of AI agents inventing their own language may sound alarming/unexpected to people outside the field, it is a well-established sub-field of AI … Simply put, agents in environments attempting to solve a task will often find unintuitive ways to maximise reward. Analysing the reward function and changing the parameters of an experiment is NOT the same as ‘unplugging’ or ‘shutting down AI’. If that were the case, every AI researcher has been ‘shutting down AI’ every time they kill a job on a machine.”
In that same Facebook Live broadcast, Zuckerberg said, “I think that people who are naysayers and kind of try to drum up these doomsday scenarios – I just, I don't understand it. I think it's really negative and in some ways I actually think it is pretty irresponsible.”
To which Musk retorted: “I've talked to Mark about this. His understanding of the subject is limited.”
Perhaps robots are coming to take our jobs, perhaps not, writes Fairfax's Caitlin Fitzsimmons (Find her on Facebook )
Either way, it's worth remembering that some technology is about connecting humans with humans.
And the key to doing that is to build trust with each other!
A study of 18,289 members of Blah Blah Car, a ride sharing platform, across 11 countries , co-authored by assistant professor Mareike Möhlmann at Warwick University, professor Arun Sundararajan at New York University,
has found that 88 per cent of humans highly trusted a member with a full digital profile vs a neighbour or a colleague!
This was nearly the same level of trust in family members (94 per cent) or friends (92 per cent).
Yet only 58 per cent of respondents said they would highly trust a colleague and 42 per cent, a neighbour.
It turns out that we are far more likely to trust a stranger than their own colleagues or neighbours.
What has created this trust on sharing platforms and the gig economy - and what can business learn from it?
It seems that there are two main reasons -
- the strangers build a digital profile to let people know who they are, and this can be linked to other digital profiles.
- Second, a lot of it is driven by trust in the platform itself. (Creating a rating system and form if insurance)
"sharing your passion with the world".
Another step replacing the old economy with the gig economy - and creating the "future of work" - making workers "entrepreneurs" - which may be giving us an idea of what the future of work will look like. ( see Thomas Friedman from The New York about Airbnb's next step)
Airbnb started by enabling people to rent their home or a room in their home to strangers. Now the site is branching out to let members host "experiences".
For $75 you can make brown soda bread and Irish stew at Eimhear's house in Dublin, or for $150 go kayaking on Sydney Harbour with Matt from Glebe. Both "hosts" have five stars.
Airbnb chief executive Brian Chesky told Friedman he believed the experiences business had grown tenfold this year and could become even bigger than home sharing.
He's 35, and his goal is to create 100 million new entrepreneurs by the time he retires.
"The biggest asset in people's lives is not their home, but their time and potential — and we can unlock that," Chesky says.
Friday, August 4, 2017
The Bob Pritchard Snippet
According to Business Insider, both Microsoft and Google envision a not-so-distant future in which donning smart headgear to repair an elevator or assemble a tractor motor is the norm. Over the past several days, both tech giants have revealed they're each taking concrete and compelling steps to make that happen.
Microsoft just revealed that it's working on a new artificial intelligence chip to power its second-generation HoloLens headset. The coprocessor's chief job will be implementing deep neural networks — a machine learning technique with a structure that loosely resembles the human brain — into the HoloLens' core processing unit. A dedicated A.I. chip is necessary to enable it to be able to comprehend large amounts of complex data gathered by its depth and camera sensors without latency. Microsoft’s HoloLens headset is likely to arrive in 2019.
The announcement comes days after Google divulged new information about its plans for the next iteration of Google Glass . It is the first time they have spoken about the new version of Glass in development for the workplace, which it calls Google Glass Enterprise Edition. The refreshed model will offer faster, more reliable Wi-Fi connectivity, improved security, a faster processor, a sharper camera and longer battery compared to its predecessor.
Taken together, the announcements confirm that Google and Microsoft view technologies like smart headgear and augmented reality as strategically vital, particularly in the workplace. Google's first stab at consumer-side smart goggles came in 2012 with its initial version of Google Glass, ultimately a flop.
Both Google and Microsoft have apparently learned from Glass's mistakes, focusing on applications in commercial scenarios. Google has tested Glass Enterprise Edition in some 50 businesses over the past two years, including companies like DHL, Sutter Health and Volkswagen.
While the basic concepts behind HoloLens and Google Glass overlap, in execution they couldn't be less alike. Google Glass is meant to be physically insubstantial like a pair of literal glasses, only noticeable when someone needs it for a specific task. It displays a small virtual screen above the wearer's eye, which can be glanced at without disrupting other visual tasks. The new version is able to clip onto existing eyeglasses rendering the technology more accessible for those who need prescription glasses or protective eyewear in their jobs. It must remain in wireless range of a smartphone to work properly.
HoloLens, is much more immersive, since it can display larger graphics that fall within the wearer's field of view. And unlike Glass, it's also a functionally holistic device, unconstrained by reliance on smartphone or virtual-reality-style computer tethers to operate. All of HoloLens's necessary computing components are baked into the headset. Note that none of these workplace-angled changes mean consumer-oriented versions of these headsets won't follow at some point.
When you put Glass or HoloLens on an engineer or mechanic, being able to see critical information at a glance, like how much torque should be applied to a wrench, or whether a new piece of equipment will fit in a medical facility's operating room, both upends and streamlines workflow. The question then becomes whether HoloLens or Glass will eventually dominate the workplace.
China has a population of a billion people. One billion. That means even if you’re a one in a million, there are still a thousand others exactly like you
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Wednesday, August 2, 2017
The Bob Pritchard Snippet
Urban planners and policy makers around the world have started to brainstorm ways that cities can create more space for pedestrians and lower CO2 emissions.
Oslo announced a ban on all cars from its city by 2019, six years before Norway's country-wide ban would go into effect. Now, the country wants to take the initiative a step further. Norway is proposing a bill banning the sale of gas-powered cars by 2025, investing heavily in public transport and replacing 35 miles of roads with bike lanes.
Madrid is banning cars from its city center by 2020, with urban planners redesigning 24 of the city's busiest streets for walking rather than driving. The plan is to reduce daily car usage from 30% to around 20%. It will be expensive to park the most polluting cars.
In Chengdu, China, the new city layout makes it easier to walk than drive, with streets designed so that people can walk anywhere in 15 minutes. While Chengdu won't completely ban cars, only half the roads will allow vehicles.
Hamburg plans to make walking and biking its dominant mode of transport. Hamburg is reducing the number of cars by only allowing pedestrians and bikers to enter certain areas. The project calls for "green network," of connected spaces that people can access without cars. The network is planned to cover 40% of Hamburg and will include parks, playgrounds and sports fields.
Over half of Copenhagen's population bikes to work every day, thanks to the city's effort to introduce pedestrian-only zones starting in the 1960s. The Danish capital now boasts more than 200 miles of bike lanes and has one of the lowest percentages of car ownership in Europe.
The latest goal is to build a superhighway for bikes that will stretch to surrounding suburbs. The 28 planned routes will be completed by the end of 2018. The city has also pledged to become completely carbon-neutral by 2025.
When Paris banned cars with even-numbered plates for a day in 2014, pollution dropped by 30%. Now, the city wants to discourage cars from driving in the city center at all.
Since last year, all drivers with cars made before 1997 are not permitted to drive in the city center on weekdays. Paris plans to double its bike lanes and limit select streets to electric cars. The city also curbs emissions through car-free Sundays rule last year.
London will ban diesel cars by 2020. Currently, the city discourages the use of diesel engines in some areas of the city by charging a fee of $12.50 per day for diesel cars.
Brussels, features the largest car-free area in Europe. Most streets that surround Brussels' city square, stock exchange, and Rue Neuve (a major shopping street) have always been pedestrian-only. The roads make up the second largest car-free zone in Europe, behind Copenhagen. For one day in September, all cars are banned from the entire city center.
It is proposed to turn a popular four-lane boulevard into a pedestrian-only area. Brussels has announced that diesel cars will be banned starting in 2018.
Mexico City plans to ban about two million cars from the city center by prohibiting a portion of cars from the city center two days every work week and two Saturdays per month. The policy helps to mitigate the city's high smog levels.
While New York City isn't planning a car ban anytime soon, it is increasing the number of pedestrian areas, along with bike share, subway, and bus options.
Beginning this week, strips of popular areas like Times Square, Herald Square, and Madison Square Park are permanently pedestrian-only. On three Saturdays, hundreds of thousands of people will take advantage of Summer Streets, an annual event that prohibits cars and opens major roads for pedestrians.
Cities are coming to the realization that they need to swing the pendulum
Four in five SMEs believe new technologies will impact their business within the next ten years
One in four SMEs (76%) have invested in technology over the last 12 months to boost their innovative capacity
Other insights included
SMEs can derive huge value just by making small changes.that are not major costs
- Upskilling you and your team through continuos education - this can be done with government and industry support (see www.bbg.business and www.paulgreenberg.com for 2 examples on what you can do)
- Social Media Presence - Only 22% of businesses surveyed have a social media presence. Those using it saw an increase in enquiries and, in 54% of cases, greater interaction with customers. The survey iindicated that half of the businesses on social media said it made doing business easier.
- Improved connectivity and collaboration with clients should be technology that SME's will give most impact to their business into the future,
- Move to cloud software is a simple innovation -. “businesses are embracing online accounting solutions over old, desktop software which can often be onerous to use.
How will Amazon , Artificial Intelligence and technology effect your business ?
What are you going to do about it?
Are you ready to change and learn?