Turbotodd

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

Posts Tagged ‘artificial intelligence

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

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

A $1B AI School

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Happy Tuesday. It’s still raining here in Austin, and about 80 miles west of us the Llano River has reached a 40-foot flood stage. Please stop the rain, at least for a little while. We’ve had enough.

If you need a ride away from the floods, or were simply wondering what’s been going on with Uber, The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the company could be valued at 120 billion dollars in an IPO as early as 2019, which would nearly double its valuation from just two months ago.

As the Journal story points out, that “eye-popping” figure would make Uber worth more than General Motors, Ford Motor, and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles combined.

While Uber is focused on making smarter car rides, Paperspace has scored $13 million in investment for its AI-fueled application development platform.

According to a report from TechCrunch, Paperspace wants to help developers build AI and machine learning apps with a software and hardware development platform powered by GPUs and other powerful chips.

Last spring, the company released gradient, a serverless tool to make it easier to deploy and manage Ai and machine learning workloads.

By making Gradient a serverless management tool, customers don’t have to think about the underlying infrastructure. Instead, Paperspace handles all of that for them providing the resources as needed. “We do a lot of GPU compute, but the big focus right now and really where the investors are buying into with this fundraise, is the idea that we are in a really unique position to build out a software layer and abstract a lot of that infrastructure away [for our customers].

In other news, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology announced yesterday it was creating a new college focused on better preparing students to adapt to the increasingly disruptive AI wave through a planned $1 billion investment, $350 million of which came from private equity guru Stephen Schwarzman.

According to a report in The New York Times:

Mr. Schwarzman said he hoped that the M.I.T. move might trigger others to invest in America’s A.I. future, not just commercially. He points to the major push the Chinese government is making, and notes the fruits of United States government-funded research in the past — technologies that helped America take the global lead in industries from the personal computer to the internet.

Just last month, IBM and MIT announced a 10-year, 240 million dollar investment to create the MIT-IBM Watson AI lab, which will carry out fundamental AI research and seek to propel scientific breakthroughs than unlock the potential of AI.

Written by turbotodd

October 16, 2018 at 12:10 pm

Explaining AI Decisions

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IBM’s Institue of Business Value recently issued a new report concerning the implementation of AI, and according to a survey of 5,000 executives, discovered that 60 percent of those polled said they were concerned about being able to explain how AI is using data and making decisions in order to meet regulatory and compliance standards.

According to a story in The Wall Street Journal, there’s concern that:

AI decisions can sometimes be black boxes both for the data scientist engineering them and the business executives telling their benefits. This is especially true in deep learning tools such as neural networks that are used to identify patterns in data, whose structure roughly tries to mimic the operations of the human brain.

But just as in high school geometry, the question arises as to how to demonstrate one has proved their work. That is to say, to reveal how the AI system arrived at a specific conclusion.

The Journal identifies measures IBM took last week which include cloud-based tools that can show users which factors led to an AI-based recommendations. 

The tools can also analyze AI decisions in real-time to identify inherent bias and recommend data and methods to address that bias. The tools work with IBM’s AI services and those from other cloud services providers including Google, said David Kenny, senior vice president of cognitive solutions at IBM.

You can learn more about those measures in this blog post.

Written by turbotodd

September 27, 2018 at 12:13 pm

Automation Feast or Famine

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Happy Wednesday. 

Now that we’ve gotten that whole new iPhone analysis thing out of the way, let’s get back to the smart stuff.

The Wall Street Journal CIO Journal’s “Morning Download” email has been a must read for me for a couple of years now, and they do a generally good job of keeping their fingers on the pulse of enterprise IT, software, etc.

In today’s edition, they cited a new report from the World Economic Forum report on the jobs impact of artificial intelligence between now and 2022.

The report suggested that 984,000 jobs would disappear, but that 1.74 million new jobs would be created. 

The survey was of chief HR officers and top strategy execs from 300 global companies.

Almost 40 percent of respondents indicated they expect to expand their workforce by 2022, but more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their companies. 

More than 50 percent of employees of larger companies will need to invest in significant training for their employees to remain relevant, and nearly 50 percent of respondents said they expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation.

In terms of cadence, 29 percent of current workplace tasks will be completed by machines in 2018, 42 percent in 2022, and more than half — 52 percent — by 2025.

I guess the large and lingering question is, which half of which tasks?

We’ll find out soon enough.

Written by turbotodd

September 19, 2018 at 12:34 pm

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