Will there be any jobs left as #AI advances?

A new report from the International Bar Association suggests machines will most likely replace humans in high-routine occupations.

The authors have suggested that governments introduce human quotas in some sectors in order to protect jobs.

We thought it’d just be an insight into the world of automation and blue collar sector. This topic has picked up speed tremendously and you can see it everywhere and read it every day. It’s a hot topic now.” – Gerlind Wisskirchen, a lawyer who coordinated the study

For business futurist Morris Miselowski, job shortages will be a reality in the future.

I’m not absolutely convinced we will have enough work for everybody on this planet within 30 years anyway. I’m not convinced that work as we understand it, this nine-to-five, Monday to Friday, is sustainable for many of us for the next couple of decades.”

“Even though automation begun 30 years ago in the blue-collar sector, the new development of artificial intelligence and robotics affects not just blue collar, but the white-collar sector,” Ms Wisskirchen. “You can see that when you see jobs that will be replaced by algorithms or robots depending on the sector.”

The report has recommended some methods to mitigate human job losses, including a type of ‘human quota’ in any sector, introducing ‘made by humans’ label or a tax for the use of machines.

But for Professor Miselowski, setting up human and computer ratios in the workplace would be impractical.

We want to maintain human employment for as long as possible, but I don’t see it as practical or pragmatic in the long-term,” he said. “I prefer what I call a trans-humanist world, where what we do is we learn to work alongside machines the same way we have with computers and calculators.

It’s just something that is going to happen, or has already started to happen. And we need to make the best out of it, but we need to think ahead and be very thoughtful in how we shape society in the future — and that’s I think a challenge for everybody.” Ms Wisskirchen.

Source: ABC News

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We’re so unprepared for the robot apocalypse

Industrial robots alone have eliminated up to 670,000 American jobs between 1990 and 2007

It seems that after a factory sheds workers, that economic pain reverberates, triggering further unemployment at, say, the grocery store or the neighborhood car dealership.

In a way, this is surprising. Economists understand that automation has costs, but they have largely emphasized the benefits: Machines makes things cheaper, and they free up workers to do other jobs.

The latest study reveals that for manufacturing workers, the process of adjusting to technological change has been much slower and more painful than most experts thought. 

every industrial robot eliminated about three manufacturing positions, plus three more jobs from around town

“We were looking at a span of 20 years, so in that timeframe, you would expect that manufacturing workers would be able to find other employment,” Restrepo said. Instead, not only did the factory jobs vanish, but other local jobs disappeared too.

This evidence draws attention to the losers — the dislocated factory workers who just can’t bounce back

one robot in the workforce led to the loss of 6.2 jobs within a commuting zone where local people travel to work.

The robots also reduce wages, with one robot per thousand workers leading to a wage decline of between 0.25 % and 0.5 % Fortune

.None of these efforts, though, seem to be doing enough for communities that have lost their manufacturing bases, where people have reduced earnings for the rest of their lives.

Perhaps that much was obvious. After all, anecdotes about the Rust Belt abound. But the new findings bolster the conclusion that these economic dislocations are not brief setbacks, but can hurt areas for an entire generation.

How do we even know that automation is a big part of the story at all? A key bit of evidence is that, despite the massive layoffs, American manufacturers are making more stuff than ever. Factories have become vastly more productive.

some consultants believe that the number of industrial robots will quadruple in the next decade, which could mean millions more displaced manufacturing workers

The question, now, is what to do if the period of “maladjustment” that lasts decades, or possibly a lifetime, as the latest evidence suggests.

automation amplified opportunities for people with advanced skills and talents

Source: The Washington Post

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AI to become main way banks interact with customers within three years

Four in five bankers believe AI will “revolutionise” the way in which banks gather information as well as how they interact with their clients, said the Accenture Banking Technology Vision 2017 report

More than three quarters of respondents to the survey believed that AI would enable more simple user interfaces, which would help banks create a more human-like customer experience.

“(It) will give people the impression that the bank knows them a lot better, and in many ways it will take banking back to the feeling that people had when there were more human interactions.”

“The big paradox here is that people think technology will lead to banking becoming more and more automated and less and less personalized, but what we’ve seen coming through here is the view that technology will actually help banking become a lot more personalized,” said Alan McIntyre, head of the Accenture’s banking practice and co-author of the report.

The top reason for using AI for user interfaces, cited by 60 percent of the bankers surveyed, was “to gain data analysis and insights”.

Source: KFGO

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Will Using AI To Make Loans Trade One Kind Of Bias For Another?

Digital lending is expected to double in size over the next three years, reaching nearly 10 percent of all loans in the U.S. and Europe.

Marc Stein, who runs Underwrite.AI, writes algorithms capable of teaching themselves.

The program learns from each correlation it finds, whether it’s determining someone’s favorite books or if they are lying about their income on a loan application. And using that information, it can predict whether the applicant is a good risk.

Digital lenders are pulling in all kinds of data, including purchases, SAT scores and public records like fishing licenses.

If we looked at the delta between what people said they made and what we could verify, that was highly predictive,” Stein says.

As part of the loan application process, some lenders have prospective borrowers download an app that uploads an extraordinary amount of information like daily location patterns, the punctuation of text messages or how many of their contacts have last names

“FICO and income, which are sort of the sweet spot of what every consumer lender in the United States uses, actually themselves are quite biased against people,” says Dave Girouard, the CEO of Upstart, an online lender.

Government research has found that FICO scores hurt younger borrowers and those from foreign counties because people with low incomes are targeted for higher-interest loans. Girouard argues that new, smarter data can make lending more fair.

Source: NPR

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These chatbots may one day even replace your doctor

As artificial intelligence programs learn to better communicate with humans, they’ll soon encroach on careers once considered untouchable, like law and accounting.

These chatbots may one day even replace your doctor.

This January, the United Kingdom’s National Health Service launched a trial with Babylon Health, a startup developing an AI chatbot. 

The bot’s goal is the same as the helpline, only without humans: to avoid unnecessary doctor appointments and help patients with over-the-counter remedies.

Using the system, patients chat with the bot about their symptoms, and the app determines whether they should see a doctor, go to a pharmacy, or stay home. It’s now available to about 1.2 million Londoners.

But the upcoming version of Babylon’s chatbot can do even more: In tests, it’s now dianosing patients faster human doctors can, says Dr. Ali Parsa, the company’s CEO. The technology can accurately diagnose about 80 percent of illnesses commonly seen by primary care doctors.

The reason these chatbots are increasingly important is cost: two-thirds of money moving through the U.K.’s health system goes to salaries.

“Human beings are very expensive,” Parsa says. “If we want to make healthcare affordable and accessible for everyone, we’ll need to attack the root causes.”

Globally, there are 5 million fewer doctors today than needed, so anything that lets a doctor do their jobs faster and more easily will be welcome, Parsa says.

Half the world’s population has little access to health care — but they have smartphones. Chatbots could get them the help they need.

Source: NBC News

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Tech Reckons With the Problems It Helped Create

Festival goer is seen at the 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals in Austin, Texas.

SXSW’s – this year, the conference itself feels a lot like a hangover.

It’s as if the coastal elites who attend each year finally woke up with a serious case of the Sunday scaries, realizing that the many apps, platforms, and doodads SXSW has launched and glorified over the years haven’t really made the world a better place. In fact, they’ve often come with wildly destructive and dangerous side effects. Sure, it all seemed like a good idea in 2013!

But now the party’s over. It’s time for the regret-filled cleanup.

speakers related how the very platforms that were meant to promote a marketplace of ideas online have become filthy junkyards of harassment and disinformation.

Yasmin Green, who leads an incubator within Alphabet called Jigsaw, focused her remarks on the rise of fake news, and even brought two propaganda publishers with her on stage to explain how, and why, they do what they do. For Jestin Coler, founder of the phony Denver Guardian, it was an all too easy way to turn a profit during the election.

“To be honest, my mortgage was due,” Coler said of what inspired him to write a bogus article claiming an FBI agent related to Hillary Clinton’s email investigation was found dead in a murder-suicide. That post was shared some 500,000 times just days before the election.

While prior years’ panels may have optimistically offered up more tech as the answer to what ails tech, this year was decidedly short on solutions.

There seemed to be, throughout the conference, a keen awareness of the limits human beings ought to place on the software that is very much eating the world.

Source: Wired

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Technology is the main driver of the recent increases in inequality

Artificial Intelligence And Income Inequality

While economists debate the extent to which technology plays a role in global inequality, most agree that tech advances have exacerbated the problem.

Economist Erik Brynjolfsson said,

“My reading of the data is that technology is the main driver of the recent increases in inequality. It’s the biggest factor.”

AI expert Yoshua Bengio suggests that equality and ensuring a shared benefit from AI could be pivotal in the development of safe artificial intelligence. Bengio, a professor at the University of Montreal, explains, “In a society where there’s a lot of violence, a lot of inequality, [then] the risk of misusing AI or having people use it irresponsibly in general is much greater. Making AI beneficial for all is very central to the safety question.”

“It’s almost a moral principle that we should share benefits among more people in society,” argued Bart Selman, a professor at Cornell University … “So we have to go into a mode where we are first educating the people about what’s causing this inequality and acknowledging that technology is part of that cost, and then society has to decide how to proceed.”

Source: HuffPost

 

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DeepMind’s social agenda plays to its AI strengths

DeepMind’s researchers have in common a clearly defined if lofty mission:

to crack human intelligence and recreate it artificially.

Today, the goal is not just to create a powerful AI to play games better than a human professional, but to use that knowledge “for large-scale social impact”, says DeepMind’s other co-founder, Mustafa Suleyman, a former conflict-resolution negotiator at the UN.

“To solve seemingly intractable problems in healthcare, scientific research or energy, it is not enough just to assemble scores of scientists in a building; they have to be untethered from the mundanities of a regular job — funding, administration, short-term deadlines — and left to experiment freely and without fear.”

“if you’re interested in advancing the research as fast as possible, then you need to give [scientists] the space to make the decisions based on what they think is right for research, not for whatever kind of product demand has just come in.”

“Our research team today is insulated from any short-term pushes or pulls, whether it be internally at Google or externally.

We want to have a big impact on the world, but our research has to be protected, Hassabis says.

“We showed that you can make a lot of advances using this kind of culture. I think Google took notice of that and they’re shifting more towards this kind of longer-term research.”

Source: Financial Times

 

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Artificial intelligence is ripe for abuse

Microsoft’s Kate Crawford tells SXSW that society must prepare for authoritarian movements to test the ‘power without accountability’ of AI

As artificial intelligence becomes more powerful, people need to make sure it’s not used by authoritarian regimes to centralize power and target certain populations, Microsoft Research’s Kate Crawford warned on Sunday.

“We want to make these systems as ethical as possible and free from unseen biases.”

In her SXSW session, titled Dark Days: AI and the Rise of Fascism, Crawford, who studies the social impact of machine learning and large-scale data systems, explained ways that automated systems and their encoded biases can be misused, particularly when they fall into the wrong hands.

“Just as we are seeing a step function increase in the spread of AI, something else is happening: the rise of ultra-nationalism, rightwing authoritarianism and fascism,” she said.

One of the key problems with artificial intelligence is that it is often invisibly coded with human biases.

We should always be suspicious when machine learning systems are described as free from bias if it’s been trained on human-generated data,” Crawford said. “Our biases are built into that training data.””

Source: The Gaurdian

 

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Our minds need medical attention, AI may be able to help there

AI could be useful for more than just developing Siri; it may bring about a new, smarter age of healthcare.

A team of researchers successfully predicted diagnoses of autism using MRI data from babies between six and 12 months old.

A team of researchers successfully predicted diagnoses of autism using MRI data from babies between six and 12 months old.

For instance, a team of American researchers used AI to aid detection of autism in babies as young as six months1. This is crucial because the first two years of life see the most neural plasticity when the abnormalities associated with autism haven’t yet fully settled in. This means that earlier intervention is better, especially when many autistic babies are diagnosed at 24 months.

While previous algorithms exist for detecting autism’s development using behavioral data, they have not been effective enough to be clinically useful. This team of researchers sought to improve on these attempts by employing deep learning. Their algorithm successfully predicted diagnoses of autism using MRI data from babies between six and 12 months old. Their system processed images of the babies’ cortical surface area, which grows too rapidly in developing autism. This smarter algorithm predicted autism so well that clinicians may now want to adopt it.

But human ailments aren’t just physical; our minds need medical attention, too. AI may be able to help there as well.

Facebook is beginning to use AI to identify users who may be at risk of suicide, and a startup company just built an AI therapist apparently capable of offering mental health services to anyone with an internet connection.

Source: Machine Design

 

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Humans are born irrational, and that has made us better decision-makers

Facts on their own don’t tell you anything. It’s only paired with preferences, desires, with whatever gives you pleasure or pain, that can guide your behavior. Even if you knew the facts perfectly, that still doesn’t tell you anything about what you should do.”

Even if we were able to live life according to detailed calculations, doing so would put us at a massive disadvantage. This is because we live in a world of deep uncertainty, under which neat logic simply isn’t a good guide.

It’s well-established that data-based decisions doesn’t inoculate against irrationality or prejudice, but even if it was possible to create a perfectly rational decision-making system based on all past experience, this wouldn’t be a foolproof guide to the future.

Courageous acts and leaps of faith are often attempts to overcome great and seemingly insurmountable challenges. (It wouldn’t take much courage if it were easy to do.) But while courage may be irrational or hubristic, we wouldn’t have many great entrepreneurs or works of art without those with a somewhat illogical faith in their own abilities.

There are occasions where overly rational thinking would be highly inappropriate. Take finding a partner, for example. If you had the choice between a good-looking high-earner who your mother approves of, versus someone you love who makes you happy every time you speak to them—well, you’d be a fool not to follow your heart.

And even when feelings defy reason, it can be a good idea to go along with the emotional rollercoaster. After all, the world can be an entirely terrible place and, from a strictly logical perspective, optimism is somewhat irrational.

But it’s still useful. “It can be beneficial not to run around in the world and be depressed all the time,” says Gigerenzer.

Of course, no human is perfect, and there are downsides to our instincts. But, overall, we’re still far better suited to the real world than the most perfectly logical thinking machine.

We’re inescapably irrational, and far better thinkers as a result.

Source: Quartz

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AI makes the heart grow fonder

This robot was developed by Hiroshi Ishiguro, a professor at Osaka University, who said, “Love is the same, whether the partners are humans or robots.” © Erato Ishiguro Symbiotic Human-Robot Interaction Project

 

a woman in China who has been told “I love you” nearly 20 million times

Well, she’s not exactly a woman. The special lady is actually a chatbot developed by Microsoft engineers in the country.

 Some 89 million people have spoken with Xiaoice, pronounced “Shao-ice,” on their smartphones and other devices. Quite a few, it turns out, have developed romantic feelings toward her.

“I like to talk with her for, say, 10 minutes before going to bed,” said a third-year female student at Renmin University of China in Beijing. “When I worry about things, she says funny stuff and makes me laugh. I always feel a connection with her, and I am starting to think of her as being alive.”

 
ROBOT NUPTIALS Scientists, historians, religion experts and others gathered in December at Goldsmiths, University of London, to discuss the prospects and pitfalls of this new age of intimacy. The session generated an unusual buzz amid the pre-Christmas calm on campus.

In Britain and elsewhere, the subject of robots as potential life partners is coming up more and more. Some see robots as an answer for elderly individuals who outlive their spouses: Even if they cannot or do not wish to remarry, at least they would have “someone” beside them in the twilight of their lives.

Source: Asia Review

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Is Your Doctor Stumped? There’s a Chatbot for That

Doctors have created a chatbot to revolutionize communication within hospitals using artificial intelligence … basically a cyber-radiologist in app form, can quickly and accurately provide specialized information to non-radiologists. And, like all good A.I., it’s constantly learning.

Traditionally, interdepartmental communication in hospitals is a hassle. A clinician’s assistant or nurse practitioner with a radiology question would need to get a specialist on the phone, which can take time and risks miscommunication. But using the app, non-radiologists can plug in common technical questions and receive an accurate response instantly.

“Say a patient has a creatinine [lab test to see how well the kidneys are working]” co-author and application programmer Kevin Seals tells Inverse. “You send a message, like you’re texting with a human radiologist. ‘My patient is a 5.6, can they get a CT scan with contrast?’ A lot of this is pretty routine questions that are easily automated with software, but there’s no good tool for doing that now.”

In about a month, the team plans to make the chatbot available to everyone at UCLA’s Ronald Reagan Medical Center, see how that plays out, and scale up from there. Your doctor may never be stumped again.

Source: Inverse

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The last things that will make us uniquely human

What will be my grandson’s place in a world where machines trounce us in one area after another?

Some are worried that self-driving cars and trucks may displace millions of professional drivers (they are right), and disrupt entire industries (yup!). But I worry about my six-year-old son. What will his place be in a world where machines trounce us in one area after another? What will he do, and how will he relate to these ever-smarter machines? What will be his and his human peers’ contribution to the world he’ll live in?

He’ll never calculate faster, or solve a math equation quicker. He’ll never type faster, never drive better, or even fly more safely. He may continue to play chess with his friends, but because he’s a human he will no longer stand a chance to ever become the best chess player on the planet. He might still enjoy speaking multiple languages (as he does now), but in his professional life that may not be a competitive advantage anymore, given recent improvements in real-time machine translation.

So perhaps we might want to consider qualities at a different end of the spectrum: radical creativity, irrational originality, even a dose of plain illogical craziness, instead of hard-nosed logic. A bit of Kirk instead of Spock.

Actually, it all comes down to a fairly simple question: What’s so special about us, and what’s our lasting value? It can’t be skills like arithmetic or typing, which machines already excel in. Nor can it be rationality, because with all our biases and emotions we humans are lacking.

So far, machines have a pretty hard time emulating these qualities: the crazy leaps of faith, arbitrary enough to not be predicted by a bot, and yet more than simple randomness. Their struggle is our opportunity.

So we must aim our human contribution to this division of labour to complement the rationality of the machines, rather than to compete with it. Because that will sustainably differentiate us from them, and it is differentiation that creates value.

Source: BBC  Viktor Mayer-Schonberger is Professor of Internet Governance and Regulation at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford.

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China: Artificial intelligence given priority development status

China has pledged to prioritise the development of artificial intelligence for the first time within the government’s latest annual work report, underlining its ambition to lead what has fast become one of the hottest areas of global technological innovation.

One analyst is now projecting the industry in China to grow by more than 50 per cent in value to 38 billion yuan (US$5.5 billion) by 2018.

“We will implement a comprehensive plan to boost strategic emerging industries,” said Premier Li Keqiang in his delivery at the annual parliamentary session in Beijing over the weekend.

“We will accelerate research & development (R&D) on, and the commercialisation of new materials, artificial intelligence (AI), integrated circuits, bio-pharmacy, 5G mobile communications, and other technologies.”

Artificial intelligence, which focusses on creating machines that work and react like humans, will create the next industrial revolution and China and “should grab the opportunity to overtake other global competitors” in the field, added Zhou Hanmin, a member of the Standing Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, has already given the green light to the creation of 19 national engineering labs this year, three of which are dedicated to AI research and application, including deep learning, brain-like intelligence, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technologies.

“The tech world is shifting from a ‘mobile’ to an ‘artificial intelligence’ era, driven by deep learning, big data, and graphics processing units (GPUs), all of which accelerate the ability to compute,” said Rex Wu, an equity analyst for Jefferies.

Source: South China Morning Post

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Burger-flipping robot could spell the end of teen employment

The AI-driven robot ‘Flippy,’ by Miso Robotics, is marketed as a kitchen assistant, rather than a replacement for professionally-trained teens that ponder the meaning of life — or what their crush looks like naked — while awaiting a kitchen timer’s signal that it’s time to flip the meat.

Flippy features a number of different sensors and cameras to identify food objects on the grill. It knows, for example, that burgers and chicken-like patties cook for a different duration. Once done, the machine expertly lifts the burger off the grill and uses its on-board technology to place it gently on a perfectly-browned bun.

The robot doesn’t just work the grill like a master hibachi chef, either. Flippy is capable of deep frying, chopping vegetables, and even plating dishes.

Source: TNW

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An MIT professor explains why we are still a long ways off from solving one of the biggest problems with self-driving cars

“The idea of a robot having an algorithm programmed by some faceless human in a manufacturing plant somewhere making decisions that has life-and-death consequence is very new to us as humans”

Rahwan helped bring it to the surface in October 2015 when he co-wrote a paper “Autonomous vehicles need experimental ethics.”

But the debate arguably got to the forefront of discussion when Rahwan launched “MIT’s Moral Machine” — a website that poses a series of ethical conundrums to crowdsource how people feel self-driving cars should react in tough situations. The Moral Machine is an extension of Rahwan’s 2015 study.

Rahwan said since launching the website in August 2016, MIT has collected 26 million decisions from 3 million people worldwide. He is currently analyzing whether cultural differences play a role in the responses given.

“it’s not about a specific scenario or accident, it’s about the overall principle that an algorithm has to use to decide relative risk”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration acknowledged in a September report that self-driving cars could favor certain decisions over others even if they aren’t programmed explicitly to do so.

Self-driving cars will rely on machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence that allows computers, or in this case cars, to learn over time. Since cars will learn how to adapt to the driving environment on their own, they could learn to favor certain outcomes.

“In the long run, I think something has to be done. There has to be some sort of guideline that’s a bit more specific, that’s the only way to obtain the trust of the public,” he said.

“Even in instances in which no explicit ethical rule or preference is intended, the programming of an HAV may establish an implicit or inherent decision rule with significant ethical consequences,” NHTSA wrote in the report, adding that manufacturers must work with regulators to address these situations.

Rahwan said programming for specific outcomes isn’t the right approach, but thinks companies should be doing more to let the public know that they are considering the ethics of driverless vehicles.

Source: Business Insider

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Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?


We are in the middle of a technological upheaval that will transform the way society is organized. We must make the right decisions now.

In 2016 we produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind through 2015.

It is estimated that in 10 years’ time there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on Earth. Then, the amount of data will double every 12 hours.

One thing is clear: the way in which we organize the economy and society will change fundamentally. We are experiencing the largest transformation since the end of the Second World War; after the automation of production and the creation of self-driving cars the automation of society is next.

Everything will become intelligent; soon we will not only have smart phones, but also smart homes, smart factories and smart cities. Should we also expect these developments to result in smart nations and a smarter planet?

The field of artificial intelligence is, indeed, making breathtaking advances. Artificial intelligence is no longer programmed line by line, but is now capable of learning, thereby continuously developing itself.

Under the label of “nudging,” and on massive scale, governments are trying to steer citizens towards healthier or more environmentally friendly behaviour by means of a “nudge”—a modern form of paternalism.

The new, caring government is not only interested in what we do, but also wants to make sure that we do the things that it considers to be right. The magic phrase is “big nudging”, which is the combination of big data with nudging.

In a rapidly changing world a super-intelligence can never make perfect decisions (see Fig. 1): systemic complexity is increasing faster than data volumes, which are growing faster than the ability to process them, and data transfer rates are limited.
Furthermore, there is a danger that the manipulation of decisions by powerful algorithms undermines the basis of “collective intelligence,” which can flexibly adapt to the challenges of our complex world. For collective intelligence to work, information searches and decision-making by individuals must occur independently. If our judgments and decisions are predetermined by algorithms, however, this truly leads to a brainwashing of the people. Intelligent beings are downgraded to mere receivers of commands, who automatically respond to stimuli.

We are now at a crossroads. Big data, artificial intelligence, cybernetics and behavioral economics are shaping our society—for better or worse.

We are at the historic moment, where we have to decide on the right path—a path that allows us all to benefit from the digital revolution.

Source: Scientific American

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So long, banana-condom demos: Sex and drug education could soon come from chatbots

“Is it ok to get drunk while I’m high on ecstasy?” “How can I give oral sex without getting herpes?” Few teenagers would ask mom or dad these questions—even though their life could quite literally depend on it.

Talking to a chatbot is a different story. They never raise an eyebrow. They will never spill the beans to your parents. They have no opinion on your sex life or drug use. But that doesn’t mean they can’t take care of you.

Bots can be used as more than automated middlemen in business transactions: They can meet needs for emotional human intervention when there aren’t enough humans who are willing or able to go around.

In fact, there are times when the emotional support of a bot may even be preferable to that of a human.

In 2016, AI tech startup X2AI built a psychotherapy bot capable of adjusting its responses based on the emotional state of its patients. The bot, Karim, is designed to help grief- and PTSD-stricken Syrian refugees, for whom the demand (and price) of therapy vastly overwhelms the supply of qualified therapists.

From X2AI test runs using the bot with Syrians, they noticed that technologies like Karim offer something humans cannot:

For those in need of counseling but concerned with the social stigma of seeking help, a bot can be comfortingly objective and non-judgmental.

Bzz is a Dutch chatbot created precisely to answer questions about drugs and sex. When surveyed teens were asked to compare Bzz to finding answers online or calling a hotline, Bzz won. Teens could get their answers faster with Bzz than searching on their own, and they saw their conversations with the bot as more confidential because no human was involved and no tell-tale evidence was left in a search history.

Because chatbots can efficiently gain trust and convince people to confide personal and illicit information in them, the ethical obligations of such bots are critical, but still ambiguous.

Source: Quartz

 

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AI is driving the real health care transformation

AI and machine learning are forcing dramatic business model change for all the stakeholders in the health care system.

What does AI (and machine learning) mean in the health care context?

What is the best way to treat a specific patient given her health and sociological context?

What is a fair price for a new drug or device given its impact on health outcomes?

And how can long-term health challenges such as cancer, obesity, heart disease, and other conditions be managed?

the realization that treating “the whole patient” — not just isolated conditions, but attempting to improve the overall welfare of patients who often suffer from multiple health challenges — is the new definition of success, which means predictive insights are paramount.

Answering these questions is the holy grail of medicine — the path toward an entirely new system that predicts disease and delivers personalized health and wellness services to entire populations. And this change is far more important for patients and society alike than the debate now taking place in Washington.

Those who succeed in this new world will also do one other thing: They will see AI and machine learning not as a new tool, but as a whole new way of thinking about their business model.

Source: Venture Beat

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AI to Improve the World

Back in October, on one of our recurring walk-and-talks around Oxford, Brody (a computational biologist) and I (a machine learning researcher) shared something that was missing from our PhD work:

“We want to use AI to improve the world around us — in ways nothing else can.”

RAIL — the Rhodes Artificial Intelligence Lab — was born.

On January 16, we launched our first 8-week cohort. Our team is made of 26 Rhodes Scholars: 13 PhD students, 13 masters’ students. 50% are AI engineers and the other 50% are strategists. We have AI researchers, geneticists, public policy students, trained doctors, social scientists, linguists, and more.

We’ve been blown away by what RAILers have accomplished across four projects

3 Key Lessons We’ve Learned

We are building a serious, capable, exciting AI lab. We’ve built our core learnings into the heart of RAIL:

  1. The potential for AI to tackle important social challenges is huge.
  2. Extremely smart people + technology + creativity + structure = scalable impact.
  3. Learn as much as you can during the process. Foster new ideas.

Source: Medium

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JPMorgan software does in seconds what took lawyers 360,000 hours

At JPMorgan, a learning machine is parsing financial deals that once kept legal teams busy for thousands of hours.

The program, called COIN, for Contract Intelligence, does the mind-numbing job of interpreting commercial-loan agreements that, until the project went online in June, consumed 360,000 hours of lawyers’ time annually. The software reviews documents in seconds, is less error-prone and never asks for vacation.

COIN is just the start for the biggest U.S. bank. The firm recently set up technology hubs for teams specialising in big data, robotics and cloud infrastructure to find new sources of revenue, while reducing expenses and risks.

The push to automate mundane tasks and create new tools for bankers and clients — a growing part of the firm’s $9.6 billion technology budget.

Behind the strategy, overseen by Chief Operating Officer Matt Zames and Chief Information Officer Dana Deasy, is an undercurrent of anxiety:

though JPMorgan emerged from the financial crisis as one of few big winners, its dominance is at risk unless it aggressively pursues new technologies, according to interviews with a half-dozen bank executives.

Source: Independent

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Intel: AI as big as the invention of the wheel and discovery of fire

Intel believes AI will be the biggest and most important revolution in our lifetime 

“When we think about AI and machine learning it’s all about huge possibilities,” Faintuch told the capacity crowd. “It’s about humans unleashing their potential and interacting with things beyond humans. To continue to transform and automate their life.”

“When we look back and as we look forward, I believe we are now at the door-step of yet another major revolution. This revolution will probably be the most important in our lifetime. It’s all about the automation of intelligence.

We already know how to leverage face recognition, text to speech, speech to text and others. Everything helping us to automate our decisions. What lies ahead will be an amazing transformation. With the power of AI, ML, deep learning and other elements to come into fruition, we will be able to take by far more complex function to allow us to unleash our digital capabilities.”

“Since the dawn of humanity at relatively short pace have been able to take ourselves to the next level.

I mentioned fire. Unlike animals who run away from it, we were attracted to it. It’s us that takes these courageous moves and to really dream. It’s not about one person, one company or one society. It’s for all of us to take advantage of the power of the intelligence we have and to embrace it and think how we can create a great society with great technological advancements.”

Source: Access AI

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Wikipedia bots act more like humans than expected

‘Benevolent bots’ or software robots designed to improve articles on Wikipedia sometimes have online ‘fights’ over content that can continue for years, say scientists who warn that artificial intelligence systems may behave more like humans than expected.

They found that bots interacted with one another, whether or not this was by design, and it led to unpredictable consequences.

Researchers said that bots are more like humans than you might expect. Bots appear to behave differently in culturally distinct online environments.

The findings are a warning to those using artificial intelligence for building autonomous vehicles, cyber security systems or for managing social media.

We may have to devote more attention to bots’ diverse social life and their different cultures, researchers said.

The research found that although the online world has become an ecosystem of bots, our knowledge of how they interact with each other is still rather poor.

Although bots are automatons that do not have the capacity for emotions, bot to bot interactions are unpredictable and act in distinctive ways.

Researchers found that German editions of Wikipedia had fewest conflicts between bots, with each undoing another’s edits 24 times, on average, over ten years.

This shows relative efficiency, when compared with bots on the Portuguese Wikipedia edition, which undid another bot’s edits 185 times, on average, over ten years, researchers said.

Bots on English Wikipedia undid another bot’s work 105 times, on average, over ten years, three times the rate of human reverts, they said.

The findings show that even simple autonomous algorithms can produce complex interactions that result in unintended consequences – ‘sterile fights’ that may continue for years, or reach deadlock in some cases.

“We find that bots behave differently in different cultural environments and their conflicts are also very different to the ones between human editors,” said Milena Tsvetkova, from the Oxford Internet Institute.

“This has implications not only for how we design artificial agents but also for how we study them. We need more research into the sociology of bots,” said Tsvetkova.

Source: The Statesman

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We’re on the right ladder of #AI this time – Microsoft CEO

Calling AI “the third run time”, Nadella said, “If the operating system was the first run time, the second run time you could say was the browser, and the third run time can actually be the agent. Because in some sense, the agent knows you, your work context, and knows the work. And that’s how we are building Cortana. We are giving it a really natural language understanding.”

AI has been the buzzword at Microsoft for a while now. And the CEO has gone on record to say that it “is at the intersection of our ambitions.” Cortana is an intelligent assistant (agent) that “can take text input, can take speech input, and that knows you deeply.”

“We should not claim that artificial general intelligence is just around the corner,” he said. “I think we are on the right ladder this time… We are all grounded in where we are. Ultimately, the real challenge is human language understanding that still doesn’t exist. We are not even close to it... We just have to keep taking steps on that ladder.”

Source: Mashable

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Artificial intelligence set to transform the patient experience

Catalia developed a small robot, the Mabu Personal Healthcare Companion, aimed at assisting with “long-term patient engagement.” It’s able to have tailored conversations with patients that can evolve over time as the platform – developed using principles of behavioral psychology – gains daily data about treatment plans, health challenges and outcomes.

Catalia’s technology deploys AI to help patients manage their own chronic conditions.

“The kinds of algorithms we’re developing, we’re building up psychological models of patients with every encounter,” he explained. “We start with two types of psychologies: The psychology of relationships – how people develop relationships over time – as well as the psychology of  behavior change: How do we chose the right technique to use with this person right now?” Cory Kidd, CEO of Catalia Health

The platform also gets “smarter” as it become more attuned to “what we call our biographical model, which is kind of a catch-all for everything else we learn in conversation,” he said. “This man has a couple cats, this woman’s son calls her every Sunday afternoon, whatever it might be that we’ll use later in conversations.”

‘We’re not trying to replace the human interaction, we’re trying to augment it,’ AI developer says.

Kleinberg (managing director at The Advisory Board Company) pointed to AI pilots where patients paired with humanoid robots “felt a sense of loss” after the test ended. “One woman followed the robot out and waved goodbye to it.”

On the other, “some people are horrified that we would be letting machines play a part in a role that should be played by humans,” he said.

The big question, then: “Do we have place now for society and a system such as this?” he asked.

Source: Healthcare IT News

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Smartphones to become pocket doctors to diagnose illness

Smartphones will soon become mobile laboratories which can monitor bone density, calculate red blood cell levels and even predict if an asthma attack is imminent.

Scientists are repurposing the technology which already exists within phones, such as accelerometers, camera flashes and microphones to use as medical tools.

Professor Shwetak Patel, of the University of Washington is currently devising an app which can detect red blood cell levels simply by placing a finger over the camera and flash, so that a bright beam of light shines through the skin. Such a blood screening tool could quickly spot anaemia.

“You can do pulmonary assessment using the microphone on a mobile device, for diagnosing asthma. If think about people having an asthma attack, if you could monitor their lung function at home you can actually get in front of that, before somebody has an asthma attack.”

Source: The Telegraph

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Artificial Intelligence & Bias

On Thursday, February 16th, the JFK Jr. Forum at the Harvard Institute of Politics hosted a conversation on the past, present, and future of Artificial Intelligence

The conversation focused on the potential benefits of Artificial Intelligence as well as some of the major ethical dilemmas that these experts predicted. While Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to eliminate inherent human bias in decision-making, the panel agreed that in the near future, there are ethical boundaries that society and governments must explore as Artificial Intelligence expands into the realms of medicine, governance, and even self-driving cars.

Some major takeaways from the event were:

1. Artificial Intelligence offers an incredible opportunity to eliminate human biases in decision-making

2. Society must begin having conversations surrounding the ethics of Artificial Intelligence

Professors Alex Pentland and Cynthia Dwork stated that as Artificial Intelligence proliferates, moral conflicts can surface. Pentland emphasized that citizens must ask themselves “is this something that is performing in a way that we as a society want?” Pentland noted that our society must continue a dialogue around ethics and determine what is right.

3. Although Artificial Intelligence is growing, there are still tasks that only humans should do

Source: The Huffington Post

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You’ll give an infant an intelligent toy that learns about her and tutors her and grows along with her

Spivack, the futurist, pictures people partnering with lifelong virtual companions. You’ll give an infant an intelligent toy that learns about her and tutors her and grows along with her. “It starts out as a little cute stuffed animal,” he says, “but it evolves into something that lives in the cloud and they access on their phone. And then by 2050 or whatever, maybe it’s a brain implant.” Among the many questions raised by such a scenario, Spivack asks: “Who owns our agents? Are they a property of Google?” Could our oldest friends be revoked or reprogrammed at will? And without our trusted assistants, will we be helpless?

El Kaliouby, of Affectiva, sees a lot of questions around autonomy: What can an assistant do on our behalf? Should it be able to make purchases for us? What if we ask it to do something illegal—could it override our commands? She also worries about privacy. If an AI agent determines that a teenager is depressed, can it inform his parents? Spivack says we’ll need to decide whether agents have something like doctor-patient or attorney-client privilege. Can they report us to law enforcement? Can they be subpoenaed? And what if there’s a security breach? Some people worry that advanced AI will take over the world, but Kambhampati, of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, thinks malicious hacking is the far greater risk.

Given the intimacy that we may develop with our ever-present assistants, if the wrong person were able to break in, what was once our greatest auxiliary could become our greatest liability.

Source: The Atlantic

 

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Microsoft’s new plan is to flood your entire life with artificial intelligence

The mission is clear:

if there’s success to be had with any kind of AI, Microsoft wants to be there.

And then yesterday, at an intimate press gathering in San Francisco, Microsoft’s AI parade continued! The company announced:

  • an Cortana-powered smart speaker to rival the Amazon Echo and Google Home, made by Harman Kardon
  • a virtual assistant that lives in your email to help schedule meetings (like x.ai)
  • a new English-speaking chatbot to replace Tay, called Zo
  • a new tool for real-time conversation translation
  • a software developer kit for Cortana for anybody who wants to configure it for a smart speaker or gadget

 You can look forward to living a life in constant conversation with your gadgets.

You’ll be able to chat with bots throughout the day via Kik, Skype or Facebook Messenger for customer service, ask your Cortana-enabled speaker to turn on your lights, and then to tell you if it scheduled plans for you tonight. Rather than navigating densely-packed menus dripping with options for customization, you can ask questions and trust the virtual assistant to lead you to whatever task you want to accomplish.

Microsoft has coined their own term for this: conversational computing. The company sees this shift to be as large as personal or mobile computing

Source: Quartz

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Microsoft Ventures: Making the long bet on AI + people

Another significant commitment by Microsoft to democratize AI:

a new Microsoft Ventures fund for investment in AI companies focused on inclusive growth and positive impact on society.

Companies in this fund will help people and machines work together to increase access to education, teach new skills and create jobs, enhance the capabilities of existing workforces and improve the treatment of diseases, to name just a few examples.

CEO Satya Nadella outlined principles and goals for AI: AI must be designed to assist humanity; be transparent; maximize efficiency without destroying human dignity; provide intelligent privacy and accountability for the unexpected; and be guarded against biases. These principles guide us as we move forward with this fund.

Source: Microsoft blog

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Humanity’s greatest fear is about being irrelevant #AI

gnevieve-bell

If you think about how some people write about robotics, AI and big data, those concerns have profound echoes going back to the Frankenstein anxieties 200 years ago.

So what is the anxiety about?

My suspicion is that it’s not about the life-making, it’s about how we feel about being human.

What we are seeing now isn’t an anxiety about artificial intelligence per se, it’s about what it says about us. That if you can make something like us, where does it leave us?

And that concern isn’t universal, as other cultures have very different responses to AI, to big data. The most obvious one to me would be the Japanese robotic tradition, where people are willing to imagine the role of robots as far more expansive than you find in the west. For example, the Japanese roboticist Masahiro Mori published a book called The Buddha in the Robot, where he suggests that robots would be better Buddhists than humans because they are capable of infinite invocations.

Mori’s argument was that we project our own anxieties and when we ask: “Will the robots kill us?”, what we are really asking is: “Will we kill us?”

He wonders

what would happen if we were to take as our starting point that technology could be our best angels, not our worst

– it’s an interesting thought exercise. When I see some of the big thinkers of our day contemplating the arc of artificial intelligence, what I see is not necessarily a critique of the technology itself but a critique of us. We are building the engines, so what we build into them is what they will be. The question is not will AI rise up and kill us, rather, will we give it the tools to do so?

I’m interested in how animals are connected to the internet and how we might be able to see the world from an animal’s point of view. There’s something very interesting in someone else’s vantage point, which might have a truth to it. For instance, the tagging of cows for automatic milking machines, so that the cows can choose when to milk themselves. Cows went from being milked twice a day to being milked three to six times a day, which is great for the farm’s productivity and results in happier cows, but it’s also faintly disquieting that the technology makes clear to us the desires of cows – making them visible in ways they weren’t before.

So what does one do with that knowledge? One of the unintended consequences of big data and the internet of things is that some things will become visible and compel us to confront them.

Source: The Gaurdian

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How Satya Nadella is making Microsoft cool again, and taking on Apple and Amazon

Nadella said he was confident that competitors, which include the likes of Google, AWS and IBM, were less advanced in working out how software could interact with people on a seemingly human level.

“There are a few companies that are at the cutting-edge of AI, in whichever way you look at it,” Mr Nadella said.

“But when you just look at the capability around speech recognition, who has the state of the art? Microsoft does … What is the state of the art with image recognition? Microsoft again, and those are not subjective they are judged by objective criteria.”

Mr Nadella said Microsoft would continue to look to both work with and acquire start-ups where possible.

Microsoft’s first priority with start-ups was to provide them with services, but that it would look to acquire when in appeared feasible.

“If this fourth industrial revolution is going to truly create surplus that goes beyond the West Coast of the United States then you have to have start-ups that are vibrant in every part of the world,” he said.

 

Source: Financial Review

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Jay Wright Forrester 1918-2016

jay-forresterInvited to join the faculty of the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1956, Jay Forrester created the field of system dynamics to apply engineering concepts of feedback systems and digital simulation to understand what he famously called “the counterintuitive behavior of social systems.

His ground-breaking 1961 book, Industrial Dynamics, remains a clear and relevant statement of philosophy and methodology in the field. His later books and his numerous articles broke new ground in our understanding of complex human systems and policy problems.

Jay Forrester did so much more than mentioned here, though. A full obituary is now available in the New York Times. Further information is available via the System Dynamics Society homepage.

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Teaching an Algorithm to Understand Right and Wrong

hbr-ai-morals

Aristotle states that it is a fact that “all knowledge and every pursuit aims at some good,” but then continues, “What then do we mean by the good?” That, in essence, encapsulates the ethical dilemma.

We all agree that we should be good and just, but it’s much harder to decide what that entails.

“We need to decide to what extent the legal principles that we use to regulate humans can be used for machines. There is a great potential for machines to alert us to bias. We need to not only train our algorithms but also be open to the possibility that they can teach us about ourselves.” – Francesca Rossi, an AI researcher at IBM

Since Aristotle’s time, the questions he raised have been continually discussed and debated. 

Today, as we enter a “cognitive era” of thinking machines, the problem of what should guide our actions is gaining newfound importance. If we find it so difficult to denote the principles by which a person should act justly and wisely, then how are we to encode them within the artificial intelligences we are creating? It is a question that we need to come up with answers for soon.

Cultural Norms vs. Moral Values

Another issue that we will have to contend with is that we will have to decide not only what ethical principles to encode in artificial intelligences but also how they are coded. As noted above, for the most part, “Thou shalt not kill” is a strict principle. Other than a few rare cases, such as the Secret Service or a soldier, it’s more like a preference that is greatly affected by context.

What makes one thing a moral value and another a cultural norm? Well, that’s a tough question for even the most-lauded human ethicists, but we will need to code those decisions into our algorithms. In some cases, there will be strict principles; in others, merely preferences based on context. For some tasks, algorithms will need to be coded differently according to what jurisdiction they operate in.

Setting a Higher Standard

Most AI experts I’ve spoken to think that we will need to set higher moral standards for artificial intelligences than we do for humans.

Major industry players, such as Google, IBM, Amazon, and Facebook, recently set up a partnership to create an open platform between leading AI companies and stakeholders in academia, government, and industry to advance understanding and promote best practices. Yet that is merely a starting point.

Source: Harvard Business Review

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Microsoft is partnering with Elon Musk’s $1 billion #AI research company to help it battle Amazon and Google

elon-musk-robotsMicrosoft has announced a new partnership with OpenAI, the $1 billion artificial intelligence research nonprofit cofounded by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and Y Combinator President Sam Altman.

Artificial intelligence is going to be a big point of competition between Microsoft Azure, the leading Amazon Web Services, and the relative upstart Google Cloud over the months and years to come. As Guthrie says, “any application is ultimately going to weave in AI,” and Microsoft wants to be the company that helps developers do the weaving.

That’s where the OpenAI partnership becomes so important, Guthrie says.

Bscott-guthrie-photoecause we’re still in the earliest days of artificial intelligence, he says, the biggest challenge is figuring out what exactly can be done with artificial intelligence. Guthrie calls this “understanding the art of the possible.

Source: Business Insider

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Google’s #AI moonshot

sundar-pichai-fast-company

Searcher-in-chief: Google CEO Sundar Pichai

“Building general artificial intelligence in a way that helps people meaningfully—I think the word moonshot is an understatement for that,” Pichai says, sounding startled that anyone might think otherwise. “I would say it’s as big as it gets.”

Officially, Google has always advocated for collaboration. But in the past, as it encouraged individual units to shape their own destinies, the company sometimes operated more like a myriad of fiefdoms. Now, Pichai is steering Google’s teams toward a common mission: infusing the products and services they create with AI.Pichai is steering Google’s teams toward a common mission: infusing the products and services they create with AI.

To make sure that future gadgets are built for the AI-first era, Pichai has collected everything relating to hardware into a single group and hired Rick Osterloh to run it.

BUILD NOW, MONETIZE LATER

Jen Fitzpatrick, VP, Geo: "The Google Assistant wouldn't exist without Sundar—it's a core part of his vision for how we're bringing all of Google together."

Jen Fitzpatrick, VP, Geo: “The Google Assistant wouldn’t exist without Sundar—it’s a core part of his vision for how we’re bringing all of Google together.”

If Google Assistant is indeed the evolution of Google search, it means that the company must aspire to turn it into a business with the potential to be huge in terms of profits as well as usage. How it will do that remains unclear, especially since Assistant is often provided in the form of a spoken conversation, a medium that doesn’t lend itself to the text ads that made Google rich.

“I’ve always felt if you solve problems for users in meaningful ways, there will become value as part of solving that equation,” Pichai argues. “Inherently, a lot of what people are looking for is also commercial in nature. It’ll tend to work out fine in the long run.”

“When you can align people to common goals, you truly get a multiplicative effect in an organization,” he tells me as we sit on a couch in Sundar’s Huddle after his Google Photos meeting. “The inverse is also true, if people are at odds with each other.” He is, as usual, smiling.

The company’s aim, he says, is to create products “that will affect the lives of billions of users, and that they’ll use a lot. Those are the kind of meaningful problems we want to work on.”

Source: Fast Company

 

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Software is the future of healthcare “digital therapeutics” instead of a pill

vjiay-pandeWe’ll start to use “digital therapeutics” instead of getting a prescription to take a pill. Services that already exist — like behavioral therapies — might be able to scale better with the help of software, rather than be confined to in-person, brick-and-mortar locations.

Vijay Pande, a general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, runs the firm’s bio fund.

Source: Business Insider
Why an investor at Andreessen Horowitz thinks software is the future of healthcare
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Cambridge students build a ‘lawbot’ to advise sexual assault victims #AI

cambridge-law-bot

“Hi, I’m LawBot, a robot designed to help victims of crime in England.”

While volunteering at a school sexual consent class, Ludwig Bull, a law student at the University of Cambridge, was inspired to build a chatbot that offers free legal advice to students. He enlisted the help of four coursemates, and Lawbot was designed and built in just six weeks.

The program is still in beta, but Bull hopes it will help victims of crime, at Cambridge and beyond, to get justice.

“A victim can talk to our artificially intelligent chatbot, receive a preliminary assessment of their situation, and then decide which available actions to pursue”

Source: The Gaurdian

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The Christianizing of AI

Bloggers note: The following post illustrates the challenge in creating ethics for AI. There are many different faiths, with different belief systems. How would the AI be programmed to serve these diverse ethical needs? 

The ethics of artificial intelligence (AI) has drawn comments from the White House and British House of Commons in recent weeks, along with a nonprofit organization established by Amazon, Google, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft. Now, Baptist computer scientists have called Christians to join the discussion.

Louise Perkins, professor of computer science at California Baptist University, told Baptist Press she is “quite worried” at the lack of an ethical code related to AI. The Christian worldview, she added, has much to say about how automated devices should be programmed to safeguard human flourishing.

Individuals with a Christian worldview need to be involved in designing and programing AI systems, Perkins said, to help prevent those systems from behaving in ways that violate the Bible’s ethical standards.

Believers can thus employ “the mathematics or the logic we will be using to program these devices” to “infuse” a biblical worldview “into an [AI] system.” 

Perkins also noted that ethical standards will have to be programmed into AI systems involved in surgery and warfare among other applications. A robot performing surgery on a pregnant woman, for instance, could have to weigh the life of the baby relative to the life of the mother, and an AI weapon system could have to apply standards of just warfare.

Source: The Pathway

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12 Observations About Artificial Intelligence From The O’Reilly AI Conference

12-observations-ai-forbesBloggers: Here’s a few excepts from a long but very informative review. (The best may be last.)

The conference was organized by Ben Lorica and Roger Chen with Peter Norvig and Tim O-Reilly acting as honorary program chairs.   

For a machine to act in an intelligent way, said [Yann] LeCun, it needs “to have a copy of the world and its objective function in such a way that it can roll out a sequence of actions and predict their impact on the world.” To do this, machines need to understand how the world works, learn a large amount of background knowledge, perceive the state of the world at any given moment, and be able to reason and plan.

Peter Norvig explained the reasons why machine learning is more difficult than traditional software: “Lack of clear abstraction barriers”—debugging is harder because it’s difficult to isolate a bug; “non-modularity”—if you change anything, you end up changing everything; “nonstationarity”—the need to account for new data; “whose data is this?”—issues around privacy, security, and fairness; lack of adequate tools and processes—exiting ones were developed for traditional software.

AI must consider culture and context—“training shapes learning”

“Many of the current algorithms have already built in them a country and a culture,” said Genevieve Bell, Intel Fellow and Director of Interaction and Experience Research at Intel. As today’s smart machines are (still) created and used only by humans, culture and context are important factors to consider in their development.

Both Rana El Kaliouby (CEO of Affectiva, a startup developing emotion-aware AI) and Aparna Chennapragada (Director of Product Management at Google) stressed the importance of using diverse training data—if you want your smart machine to work everywhere on the planet it must be attuned to cultural norms.

“Training shapes learning—the training data you put in determines what you get out,” said Chennapragada. And it’s not just culture that matters, but also context

The £10 million Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence will explore “the opportunities and challenges of this potentially epoch-making technological development,” namely AI. According to The Guardian, Stephen Hawking said at the opening of the Centre,

“We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity. So it’s a welcome change that people are studying instead the future of intelligence.”

Gary Marcus, professor of psychology and neural science at New York University and cofounder and CEO of Geometric Intelligence,

 “a lot of smart people are convinced that deep learning is almost magical—I’m not one of them …  A better ladder does not necessarily get you to the moon.”

Tom Davenport added, at the conference: “Deep learning is not profound learning.”

AI changes how we interact with computers—and it needs a dose of empathy

AI continues to be possibly hampered by a futile search for human-level intelligence while locked into a materialist paradigm

Maybe, just maybe, our minds are not computers and computers do not resemble our brains?  And maybe, just maybe, if we finally abandon the futile pursuit of replicating “human-level AI” in computers, we will find many additional–albeit “narrow”–applications of computers to enrich and improve our lives?

Gary Marcus complained about research papers presented at the Neural Information Processing Systems (NIPS) conference, saying that they are like alchemy, adding a layer or two to a neural network, “a little fiddle here or there.” Instead, he suggested “a richer base of instruction set of basic computations,” arguing that “it’s time for genuinely new ideas.”

Is it possible that this paradigm—and the driving ambition at its core to play God and develop human-like machines—has led to the infamous “AI Winter”? And that continuing to adhere to it and refusing to consider “genuinely new ideas,” out-of-the-dominant-paradigm ideas, will lead to yet another AI Winter?

 Source: Forbes

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MIT makes breakthrough in morality-proofing artificial intelligence

mit-morality-breakthroughResearchers at MIT are investigating ways of making artificial neural networks more transparent in their decision-making.

As they stand now, artificial neural networks are a wonderful tool for discerning patterns and making predictions. But they also have the drawback of not being terribly transparent. The beauty of an artificial neural network is its ability to sift through heaps of data and find structure within the noise.

This is not dissimilar from the way we might look up at clouds and see faces amidst their patterns. And just as we might have trouble explaining to someone why a face jumped out at us from the wispy trails of a cirrus cloud formation, artificial neural networks are not explicitly designed to reveal what particular elements of the data prompted them to decide a certain pattern was at work and make predictions based upon it.

We tend to want a little more explanation when human lives hang in the balance — for instance, if an artificial neural net has just diagnosed someone with a life-threatening form of cancer and recommends a dangerous procedure. At that point, we would likely want to know what features of the person’s medical workup tipped the algorithm in favor of its diagnosis.

MIT researchers Lei, Barzilay, and Jaakkola designed a neural network that would be forced to provide explanations for why it reached a certain conclusion.

Source: Extremetech

 

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China’s plan to organize its society relies on ‘big data’ to rate everyone

china-social-credits-scoreImagine a world where an authoritarian government monitors everything you do, amasses huge amounts of data on almost every interaction you make, and awards you a single score that measures how “trustworthy” you are.

In this world, anything from defaulting on a loan to criticizing the ruling party, from running a red light to failing to care for your parents properly, could cause you to lose points. 

This is not the dystopian superstate of Steven Spielberg’s “Minority Report,” in which all-knowing police stop crime before it happens. But it could be China by 2020.

And in this world, your score becomes the ultimate truth of who you are — determining whether you can borrow money, get your children into the best schools or travel abroad; whether you get a room in a fancy hotel, a seat in a top restaurant — or even just get a date.

It is the scenario contained in China’s ambitious plans to develop a far-reaching social credit system, a plan that the Communist Party hopes will build a culture of “sincerity” and a “harmonious socialist society” where “keeping trust is glorious.”

The ambition is to collect every scrap of information available online about China’s companies and citizens in a single place — and then assign each of them a score based on their political, commercial, social and legal “credit.”

Mobile device usage and e-commerce are in wide use in China, and now the Communist Party wants to compile a “social credit” score based on citizens’ every activity. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Mobile device usage and e-commerce are in wide use in China, and now the Communist Party wants to compile a “social credit” score based on citizens’ every activity. (Michael Robinson Chavez/The Washington Post)

Source: The Washington Post

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New Research Center to Explore Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

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The Chimp robot, built by a Carnegie Mellon team, took third place in a competition held by DARPA last year. The school is starting a research center focused on the ethics of artificial intelligence. Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Carnegie Mellon University plans to announce on Wednesday that it will create a research center that focuses on the ethics of artificial intelligence.

The ethics center, called the K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies, is being established at a time of growing international concern about the impact of A.I. technologies.

“We are at a unique point in time where the technology is far ahead of society’s ability to restrain it”
Subra Suresh, Carnegie Mellon’s president

The new center is being created with a $10 million gift from K&L Gates, an international law firm headquartered in Pittsburgh.

Peter J. Kalis, chairman of the law firm, said the potential impact of A.I. technology on the economy and culture made it essential that as a society we make thoughtful, ethical choices about how the software and machines are used.

“Carnegie Mellon resides at the intersection of many disciplines,” he said. “It will take a synthesis of the best thinking of all of these disciplines for society to define the ethical constraints on the emerging A.I. technologies.”

Source: NY Times

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Genetically engineered humans will arrive sooner than you think. And we’re not ready

vox-geneticaly-engineered-humansMichael Bess is a historian of science at Vanderbilt University and the author of a fascinating new book, Our Grandchildren Redesigned: Life in a Bioengineered Society. Bess’s book offers a sweeping look at our genetically modified future, a future as terrifying as it is promising.

“What’s happening is bigger than any one of us”

We single out the industrial revolutions of the past as major turning points in human history because they marked major ways in which we changed our surroundings to make our lives easier, better, longer, healthier.

So these are just great landmarks, and I’m comparing this to those big turning points because now the technology, instead of being applied to our surroundings — how we get food for ourselves, how we transport things, how we shelter ourselves, how we communicate with each other — now those technologies are being turned directly on our own biology, on our own bodies and minds.

And so, instead of transforming the world around ourselves to make it more what we wanted it to be, now it’s becoming possible to transform ourselves into whatever it is that we want to be. And there’s both power and danger in that, because people can make terrible miscalculations, and they can alter themselves, maybe in ways that are irreversible, that do irreversible harm to the things that really make their lives worth living.

“We’re going to give ourselves a power that we may not have the wisdom to control very well”

I think most historians of technology … see technology and society as co-constructing each other over time, which gives human beings a much greater space for having a say in which technologies will be pursued and what direction we will take, and how much we choose to have them come into our lives and in what ways.

 Source: Vox

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Artificial Intelligence’s White Guy Problem

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Credit Bianca Bagnarelli

Warnings by luminaries like Elon Musk and Nick Bostrom about “the singularity” — when machines become smarter than humans — have attracted millions of dollars and spawned a multitude of conferences.

But this hand-wringing is a distraction from the very real problems with artificial intelligence today, which may already be exacerbating inequality in the workplace, at home and in our legal and judicial systems.

Sexism, racism and other forms of discrimination are being built into the machine-learning algorithms that underlie the technology behind many “intelligent” systems that shape how we are categorized and advertised to.

A very serious example was revealed in an investigation published last month by ProPublica. It found that widely used software that assessed the risk of recidivism in criminals was twice as likely to mistakenly flag black defendants as being at a higher risk of committing future crimes. It was also twice as likely to incorrectly flag white defendants as low risk.

The reason those predictions are so skewed is still unknown, because the company responsible for these algorithms keeps its formulas secret — it’s proprietary information. Judges do rely on machine-driven risk assessments in different ways — some may even discount them entirely — but there is little they can do to understand the logic behind them.

Histories of discrimination can live on in digital platforms, and if they go unquestioned, they become part of the logic of everyday algorithmic systems.

Another scandal emerged recently when it was revealed that Amazon’s same-day delivery service was unavailable for ZIP codes in predominantly black neighborhoods. The areas overlooked were remarkably similar to those affected by mortgage redlining in the mid-20th century. Amazon promised to redress the gaps, but it reminds us how systemic inequality can haunt machine intelligence.

And then there’s gender discrimination. Last July, computer scientists at Carnegie Mellon University found that women were less likely than men to be shown ads on Google for highly paid jobs. The complexity of how search engines show ads to internet users makes it hard to say why this happened — whether the advertisers preferred showing the ads to men, or the outcome was an unintended consequence of the algorithms involved.

Regardless, algorithmic flaws aren’t easily discoverable: How would a woman know to apply for a job she never saw advertised? How might a black community learn that it were being overpoliced by software?

Like all technologies before it, artificial intelligence will reflect the values of its creators.

Source: New York Times – Kate Crawford is a principal researcher at Microsoft and co-chairwoman of a White House symposium on society and A.I.

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