Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘AI

AI Survey: More Harm Than Good?

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Happy Friday.

So yesterday I wrote about the beginnings of an AI backlash vis a vis some of the tests Waymo has been doing on Arizona. 

Then today this AI study hits my in-box, featured on the MIT Technology Review and conducted by the Center for the Governance of AI and Oxford University’s Future of Humanity Institute.

The headline is that of Americans surveyed in the study, a higher percentage of respondents support than oppose AI development, while more respondents than not also believe high-level machine intelligence would do more harm than good for humanity.

The report goes on to ask respondents to rank their specific concerns, and they list a weakening of data privacy and the increased sophistication of cyber-attacks as issues of most concern and those most likely to affect many Americans within the next 10 years.

They’re also concerned about other key issues, including autonomous weapons, hiring bias, surveillance, digital manipulation, and, interestingly further down the list, technological unemployment.

So, more than 8 in 10 believe that AI and robotics should be “managed carefully.”

But as MIT observes in its article, that’s easier said than done “because they also don’t trust any one entity to pick up that mantle.”

I’m assuming that also means no one wants to leave it up to the Director from “Travelers” (you’ll have to go watch the show on Netflix to understand the reference…I don’t want to give any plot points away).

Where do they put the most trust in building AI?  University researchers, the US military, and tech companies, in that order.

Allan Dafoe, director of the center and coauthor of the report, says the following about the findings:

“There isn’t currently a consensus in favor of developing advanced AI, or that it’s going to be good for humanity,” he says. “That kind of perception could lead to the development of AI being perceived as illegitimate or cause political backlashes against the development of AI.”

“I believe AI could be a tremendous benefit,” Dafoe says. But the report shows a main obstacle in the way of getting there: “You have to make sure that you have a broad legitimate consensus around what society is going to undertake.”

Like any life-changing technology, it all comes down to trust…or the lack thereof.

Written by turbotodd

January 11, 2019 at 3:38 pm

Rage Against the Machines

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Happy Thursday.  

CES 2019 is heading into its last couple of days, and I suspect the big bang announcements are already over.

The one story that struck me most coming out of Vegas also apparently struck a robot.

I’m talking, of course, about the autonomous robot that was struck and “killed” by a self-driving Tesla Model S.

Apparently the poor robot, a Promobot, is manufactured by a Russian tech company and was just standing on the side of the road when the Tesla cruised by and edged Promobot off his feet…err, wheels!

Whether this was a real story or a great publicity stunt is really beside the point.

It could be a harbinger of things to come. Some would argue the Luddite blowback against AI and robots has already begun.

In Phoenix, where Waymo has been testing its self-driving cars for going on two years now, armed citizens have started taking to the streets.

A report from the Arizona Republic described “a multitude of incidents where citizens, apparently enraged by the sight of the Waymo vans, decided to threaten and attack their autonomous invaders.”

Specifically, they cited a man emerging from his home to “point a .22-calibre revolved at the van and its human safety driver.” 

The man, Roy Leonard Haselton, apparently had become obsessed with the vans after the March collision in Tempe, Arizona between an Uber Technologies Volvo and the pedestrian it killed, Elaine Herzberg.

But the threatening .22 was just one of 20-something incidents that have occurred in the past couple of years.

There have been incidences of rock throwing at Waymo vans, and games of chicken, one where a black Jeep engaged six Waymo vans, pulling into the oncoming lane in an attempt to cause the Waymo to swerve out of the way.

In short, the anti-AI/autonomous/bot Luddites are emerging from the shadows and they are p—ssed!

And the Unabomber, Ted Kaczynski, sits in his cell at the US Penitentiary Administrative Maximum Facility in Florence, Colorado, twenty-some-odd years into this sentence and just shakes his head exclaiming “I told you so!”

Written by turbotodd

January 10, 2019 at 10:59 am

Smarter Assistance

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Happy Friday, and Happy Holidays.

For those of you who have already started fleeing to parts beyond, here’s hoping you did not get caught up in the drone traffic at Gatwick Airport outside of London.

I guess that whole geofencing thing to keep the drones out…yeah, that’s not working out so much.

Me, I’m firmly ensconced in Turbo North, praying for the weather to stay warm enough over the weekend to follow a little white ball around.

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep up with the breakneck pace of tech news that was coming out this week.

This one caught my eye from Loup Ventures, where they conducted their annual smart speaker IQ test.

They conducted the test by asking each of the four smart speakers — Alexa, Siri, Google Assistant, and Cortana — 800 questions each, and then measured how well they answered correctly and/or understood the query.

Google Assistant came out on top, answering the questions correctly 87.9 percent of the time and understanding the query 100 percent of the time!

Surprisingly (at least to me, anyways), Siri came in second at 74.6 and 99.6 percent, respectively, and Alexa third, at 72.5 and 99 percent. Cortana was dead last at 63.4 and 99.4 percent.

Meanwhile, if you’re a user of Slack, be prepared to not be cut any if you visited or live in a U.S. sanctioned country recently.

The Verge reported yesterday that Slack is banning some users with links to Iran, even if they’ve left the country. 

“In order to comply with export control and economic sanctions laws…Slack prohibits unauthorized use of its products and services in certain sanctioned countries,” the notice from Slack read. “We’ve identified your team/account as originating from one of these countries and are closing the account effective immediately.” Users received no warning, and had no time to create archives or otherwise back up data.

That right there is the long arm emoji of Uncle Sam hard at work!

And speaking of big guvment, there’s this on the sub-continent of India today: India’s Ministry of Home Affairs has authorized ten government agencies, including intelligence and law enforcement, to monitor, intercept, and decrypt data on all computers in the country. 

The governmental order detailing the powers immediately drew strong criticism from both India’s privacy activists and its opposition parties, who said it enabled blanket state surveillance and violated the fundamental right to privacy that India’s 1.3 billion citizens are constitutionally guaranteed.

People who don’t comply might face up to seven years in prison and a fine, according to India’s Information Technology Act, which the order falls under.

The order caused a major dispute in India’s parliament, with members of the opposition calling it “unconstitutional, undemocratic, and an assault on fundamental rights.”

How come all of a sudden almost every single tech story seems to also have a government or public policy angle?!

That would be a question best responded to by Facebook’s PR team, the next great breeding ground for crisis communications talent.

Okay, back to the salt mines…Happy Holidays, everyone!

Written by turbotodd

December 21, 2018 at 9:40 am

Common Sense AI

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Microsoft announced that it is acquiring conversational AI and bot development software vendor XOXCO, Inc., an Austin-based firm, for an undisclosed amount.

According to a report from ZDNet, XOXCO was founded in 2008, and has been working on conversational AI since 2013.

One of its products, Howdy.ai, has been described as one of the first commercially available bots for Slack that helps schedule meetings.

Though it may be great for scheduling meetings, a new article in WIRED suggests that artificial intelligence and deep learning could stand to gain some common sense:

Deep learning is the reigning monarch of AI. In the six years since it exploded into the mainstream, it has become the dominant way to help machines sense and perceive the world around them. It powers Alexa’s speech recognition, Waymo’s self-driving cars, and Google’s on-the-fly translations. Uber is in some respects a giant optimization problem, using machine learning to figure out where riders will need cars. Baidu, the Chinese tech giant, has more than 2,000 engineers cranking away on neural net AI. For years, it seemed as though deep learning would only keep getting better, leading inexorably to a machine with the fluid, supple intelligence of a person.

But some heretics argue that deep learning is hitting a wall. They say that, on its own, it’ll never produce generalized intelligence, because truly humanlike intelligence isn’t just pattern recognition. We need to start figuring out how to imbue AI with everyday common sense, the stuff of human smarts. If we don’t, they warn, we’ll keep bumping up against the limits of deep learning, like visual-recognition systems that can be easily fooled by changing a few inputs, making a deep-learning model think a turtle is a gun. But if we succeed, they say, we’ll witness an explosion of safer, more useful devices—health care robots that navigate a cluttered home, fraud detection systems that don’t trip on false positives, medical breakthroughs powered by machines that ponder cause and effect in disease.

I look forward to having an argument with a bot…someday.

Written by turbotodd

November 14, 2018 at 11:05 am

Posted in 2018, AI, microsoft, Uncategorized

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But Is It Art?

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I think we’re about to jump the AI shark. And that’s before the shark has hardly even started to begun to swim.

A new work of art entitled “Portrait of Edmond de Belamy” is going on sale at Christie’s tonight, and according to a report by Quartzy, at first glance it appears to look like the handiwork of a long-dead Old Master.

Quartzy reports that it has a few smudges, a lightness in the brush strokes, some negative space at the edge of the canvas, and even a subtle chiaroscuro.

But, in fact, the picture of a man in a black shirt is not the work of any painter, living or dead.

No, it’s the result of an artificial intelligence algorithm.

“Portrait of Edmond De Belamy” will be the first algorithm – made artwork to go on auction in the world of fine art.

So how was the painting produced?

The humans behind the AI, a Parisian art collective called “Obvious,” first fed 15,000 images of paintings from between the 14th and 20th centuries into an open-source generative adversarial network, or “GAN”: 

This sort of neural network works in two parts: one generates the picture using the data available, and the other “discriminates,” essentially telling it whether it’s done a good job or whether the finished images are still obviously the work of a machine. It’s not clear exactly how many images the network shored up on the screen in total, but this is the one that won out. Obvious members then printed it on canvas, framed in gilt—and put it up for sale.

Will anybody buy it?

Quartzy reports that Christie’s is banking on somebody biting, probably with a final sale price of between $7,000 to $10,000?

No word yet whether or not the first AI-produced painting will shed itself after the sale, but knowing the arrogance of those AI algorithms, there’s a good stance it will instead attempt to replicate itself.

Written by turbotodd

October 25, 2018 at 9:39 am

Big Fines and Big Pipes

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Happy Monday.

First off, a hearty congratulations to the European team Ryder Cup victors. They left the U.S. team babbling in Le Golf National’s dust from which U.S. captain Jim Furyk couldn’t see the forest for the fescue.

Meanwhile, tech-related news hardly stopped just because there was a not-so-exciting golf tournament going on outside Paris.

Remember that August Tweet Tesla’s Elon Musk sent about taking his company public at $420?

Yeah, well, he paid for that one when the SEC fined both he personally, and Tesla the company, $20 million apiece over the weekend.

Though Musk admitted no guilt, he did have to resign as chairman of Tesla for three years, as well as appoint two new independent directors. He will also be required to have his communications monitored, including his social media activity, ongoing.

We also learned that the state of California is being sued by the Trump Administration in an effort to block what some have described as the toughest net neutrality law ever enacted in the United States.

On Sunday, California became the largest state to adopt its own rules requiring internet providers like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon to treat all web traffic equally.

Only hours after California’s proposal became official did senior Justice Department officials tell the Washington Post they would take the state to court on grounds that the federal government, not state leaders, has the exclusive power to regulate net neutrality.

That is the lowdown of the showdown in preparation for the big pipes throwdown.

Written by turbotodd

October 1, 2018 at 9:34 am

UiPath Raises $225 Million in Series C, Focuses on AI for Repetitive Tasks

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The AI venture capital wars continue to heat up.

VentureBeat reported early today that UiPath, a robotic process automation platform that helps companies automate repetitive tasks, has raised $225 million in a series C round of funding co-lead by Alphabet’s late-stage venture capital fund CapitalG and Sequoia Capital, with participation from Accel.

This follows on their series B round, which raised $153 million.

The company was founded in Romania, but is now headquartered in New York. VentureBeat writes that the platforms core selling point is that it brings automation to enterprise processes.

The company builds what it calls “intelligent software robots” that help businesses carry out what are often laborious and repetitive tasks using computer vision and rule-based processes.

UiPath’s tech sits atop business applications such as enterprise resource planning software and customer relationship management tools to emulate tasks usually carried out by a person manually pressing buttons at their desk.

The “robots” are trained to observe the interface to see and understand what is happening and then carry out the task as a human would.

Current customers range from NASA to Airbus to DHL, Equifax, Lufthanse, Autodesk, and 2,000 other companies around the globe. The company expects to use the Series C round to accelerate its product development and acquire more companies.

Robotic process automation…remember that category!

Written by turbotodd

September 18, 2018 at 4:11 pm

Posted in 2018, AI, artificial intelligence

Tagged with ,

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