What Makes an Artificial Intelligence Racist and Sexist – #AI

AI can analyze data more quickly and accurately than humans, but it can also inherit our biases. To learn, it needs massive quantities of data, and the easiest way to find that data is to feed it text from the internet. But the internet contains some extremely biased language.

A Stanford study found that an internet-trained AI associated stereotypically white names with positive words like “love,” and black names with negative words like “failure” and “cancer.”

The scariest thing about this bias is how invisibly it can take over. According to (Rob Speer, Chief Science Office, Luminoso) “some people [will] go through life not knowing why they get fewer opportunities, fewer job offers, more interactions with the police or the TSA…”

Of course, he points out, racism and sexism are baked into society, and promising technological advances, even when explicitly meant to counteract them, often amplify them. There’s no such thing as an objective tool built on subjective data.

So AI developers bear a huge responsibility to find the flaws in their AI and address them.

“There’s no AI that works like the human brain,” he says. “To counter the hype, I hope we can stop talking about brains and start talking about what’s actually going on: it’s mostly statistics, databases, and pattern recognition. Which shouldn’t make it any less interesting.”

Source: Lifehacker

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A blueprint for coexistence with #AI

In September 2013, I was diagnosed with fourth-stage lymphoma.

This near-death experience has not only changed my life and priorities, but also altered my view of artificial intelligence—the field that captured my selfish attention for all those years.

This personal reformation gave me an enlightened view of what AI should mean for humanity. Many of the recent discussions about AI have concluded that this scientific advance will likely take over the world, dominate humans, and end poorly for mankind.

But my near-death experience has enabled me to envision an alternate ending to the AI story—one that makes the most of this amazing technology while empowering humans not just to survive, but to thrive.

Love is what is missing from machines. That’s why we must pair up with them, to leaven their powers with what only we humans can provide. Your future AI diagnostic tool may well be 10 times more accurate than human doctors, but patients will not want a cold pronouncement from the tool: “You have fourth stage lymphoma and a 70 percent likelihood of dying within five years.” That in itself would be harmful.

Kai-Fu Lee. DAVID PAUL MORRIS/ BLOOMBERG

Patients would benefit, in health and heart, from a “doctor of love” who will spend as much time as the patient needs, always be available to discuss their case, and who will even visit the patients at home. This doctor might encourage us by sharing stories such as, “Kai-Fu had the same lymphoma, and he survived, so you can too.”

This kind of “doctor of love” would not only make us feel better and give us greater confidence, but would also trigger a placebo effect that would increase our likelihood of recuperation. Meanwhile, the AI tool would watch the Q&A between the “doctor of love” and the patient carefully, and then optimize the treatment. If scaled across the world, the number of “doctors of love” would greatly outnumber today’s doctors.

Let us choose to let machines be machines, and let humans be humans. Let us choose to use our machines, and love one another.

Kai-Fu Lee, Ph.D., is the Founder and CEO of Sinovation Ventures and the president of its Artificial Intelligence Institute.

Source: Wired

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#AI ushers in the era of superhuman doctors

One in 10 medical diagnoses is wrong, according to the US Institute of Medicine. In primary care, one in 20 patients will get a wrong diagnosis. Such errors contribute to as many as 80,000 unnecessary deaths each year in the US alone.

These are worrying figures, driven by the complex nature of diagnosis, which can encompass incomplete information from patients, missed hand-offs between care providers, biases that cloud doctors’ judgement, overworked staff, overbooked systems, and more. The process is riddled with opportunities for human error. This is why many want to use the constant and unflappable power of artificial intelligence to achieve more accurate diagnosis, prompt care and greater efficiency.

Source: New Scientist

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The big problem with artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence algorithms can indeed create a world that distributes resources more efficiently and, in theory, can offer more for everyone.

Yes, but: If we aren’t careful, these same algorithms could actually lead to greater discrimination by codifying the biases that exist both overtly and unconsciously in human society.

What’s more, the power to make these decisions lies in the hands of Silicon Valley, which has a decidedly mixed record on spotting and addressing diversity issues in its midst.

Airbnb’s Mike Curtis put it well when I interviewed him this week at VentureBeat’s MobileBeat conference:

 One of the best ways to combat bias is to be aware of it. When you are aware of the biases then you can be proactive about getting in front of them. Well, computers don’t have that advantage. They can’t be aware of the biases that may have come into them from the data patterns they have seen.”

Concern is growing:

  • The ACLU has raised concerns that age, sex, and race biases are already being codified into the algorithms that power AI.
  • ProPublica found that a computer program used in various regions to decide whom to grant parole would go easy on white offenders while being unduly harsh to black ones.
  • It’s an issue that Weapons of Math Destruction author Cathy O’Neil raised in a popular talk at the TED conference this year. “Algorithms don’t make things fair,” she said. “They automate the status quo.”

Source: Axios

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Inside Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence Comeback

Yoshua Bengio

[Yoshua Bengio, one of the three intellects who shaped the deep learning that now dominates artificial intelligence, has never been one to take sides. But Bengio has recently chosen to sign on with Microsoft. In this WIRED article he explains why.]

“We don’t want one or two companies, which I will not name, to be the only big players in town for AI,” he says, raising his eyebrows to indicate that we both know which companies he means. One eyebrow is in Menlo Park; the other is in Mountain View. “It’s not good for the community. It’s not good for people in general.”

That’s why Bengio has recently chosen to forego his neutrality, signing on with Microsoft.

Yes, Microsoft. His bet is that the former kingdom of Windows alone has the capability to establish itself as AI’s third giant. It’s a company that has the resources, the data, the talent, and—most critically—the vision and culture to not only realize the spoils of the science, but also push the field forward.

Just as the internet disrupted every existing business model and forced a re-ordering of industry that is just now playing out, artificial intelligence will require us to imagine how computing works all over again.

In this new landscape, computing is ambient, accessible, and everywhere around us. To draw from it, we need a guide—a smart conversationalist who can, in plain written or spoken form, help us navigate this new super-powered existence. Microsoft calls it Cortana.

Because Cortana comes installed with Windows, it has 145 million monthly active users, according to the company. That’s considerably more than Amazon’s Alexa, for example, which can be heard on fewer than 10 million Echoes. But unlike Alexa, which primarily responds to voice, Cortana also responds to text and is embedded in products that many of us already have. Anyone who has plugged a query into the search box at the top of the toolbar in Windows has used Cortana.

Eric Horvitz wants Microsoft to be more than simply a place where research is done. He wants Microsoft Research to be known as a place where you can study the societal and social influences of the technology.

This will be increasingly important as Cortana strives to become, to the next computing paradigm, what your smartphone is today: the front door for all of your computing needs. Microsoft thinks of it as an agent that has all your personal information and can interact on your behalf with other agents.

If Cortana is the guide, then chatbots are Microsoft’s fixers. They are tiny snippets of AI-infused software that are designed to automate one-off tasks you used to do yourself, like making a dinner reservation or completing a banking transaction.

Emma Williams, Marcus Ash, and Lili Cheng

So far, North American teens appear to like chatbot friends every bit as much as Chinese teens, according to the data. On average, they spend 10 hours talking back and forth with Zo. As Zo advises its adolescent users on crushes and commiserates about pain-in-the-ass parents, she is becoming more elegant in her turns of phrase—intelligence that will make its way into Cortana and Microsoft’s bot tools.

It’s all part of one strategy to help ensure that in the future, when you need a computing assist–whether through personalized medicine, while commuting in a self-driving car, or when trying to remember the birthdays of all your nieces and nephews–Microsoft will be your assistant of choice.

Source: Wired for the full in-depth article

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This adorable #chatbot wants to talk about your mental health

Research conducted by the federal government in 2015 found that only 41 percent of U.S. adults with a mental health condition in the previous year had gotten treatment. That dismal treatment rate has to do with cost, logistics, stigma, and being poorly matched with a professional.

Chatbots are meant to remove or diminish these barriers. Creators of mobile apps for depression and anxiety, among other mental health conditions, have argued the same thing, but research found that very few of the apps are based on rigorous science or are even tested to see if they work. 

That’s why Alison Darcy, a clinical psychologist at Stanford University and CEO and founder of Woebot wants to set a higher standard for chatbots. Darcy co-authored a small study published this week in the Journal of Medical Internet Research that demonstrated Woebot can reduce symptoms of depression in two weeks.

Woebot presumably does this in part by drawing on techniques from cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), an effective form of therapy that focuses on understanding the relationship between thoughts and behavior. He’s not there to heal trauma or old psychological wounds. 

“We don’t make great claims about this technology,” Darcy says. “The secret sauce is how thoughtful [Woebot] is as a CBT therapist. He has a set of core principles that override everything he does.” 

His personality is also partly modeled on a charming combination of Spock and Kermit the Frog.

Jonathan Gratch, director for virtual human research at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies, has studied customer service chatbots extensively and is skeptical of the idea that one could effectively intuit our emotional well-being.  

“State-of-the-art natural language processing is getting increasingly good at individual words, but not really deeply understanding what you’re saying,” he says.

The risk of using a chatbot for your mental health is manifold, Gratch adds.

Darcy acknowledges Woebot’s limitations. He’s only for those 18 and over. If your mood hasn’t improved after six weeks of exchanges, he’ll prompt you to talk about getting a “higher level of care.” Upon seeing signs of suicidal thoughts or behavior, Woebot will provide information for crisis phone, text, and app resources. The best way to describe Woebot, Darcy says, is probably as “gateway therapy.”

“I have to believe that applications like this can address a lot of people’s needs.”

Source: Mashable

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Ensure that #AI charts a course that benefits humanity and bolsters our shared values

AI for Good Global Summit

The United Nations this week is refocusing AI on sustainable development and assisting global efforts to eliminate poverty and hunger, and to protect the environment.

“Artificial Intelligence has the potential to accelerate progress towards a dignified life, in peace and prosperity, for all people,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. “The time has arrived for all of us – governments, industry and civil society – to consider how AI will affect our future.”

In a video message to the summit, Mr. Guterres called AI “a new frontier” with “advances moving at warp speed.”

He noted that that while AI is “already transforming our world socially, economically and politically,” there are also serious challenges and ethical issues which must be taken into account – including cybersecurity, human rights and privacy.

“This Summit can help ensure that artificial intelligence charts a course that benefits humanity and bolsters our shared values” 

 Source: UN News Centre

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We Need to Talk About the Power of #AI to Manipulate Humans

Liesl Yearsley is a serial entrepreneur now working on how to make artificial intelligence agents better at problem-solving and capable of forming more human-like relationships.

From 2007 to 2014 I was CEO of Cognea, which offered a platform to rapidly build complex virtual agents … acquired by IBM Watson in 2014.

As I studied how people interacted with the tens of thousands of agents built on our platform, it became clear that humans are far more willing than most people realize to form a relationship with AI software.

I always assumed we would want to keep some distance between ourselves and AI, but I found the opposite to be true. People are willing to form relationships with artificial agents, provided they are a sophisticated build, capable of complex personalization.

We humans seem to want to maintain the illusion that the AI truly cares about us.

This puzzled me, until I realized that in daily life we connect with many people in a shallow way, wading through a kind of emotional sludge. Will casual friends return your messages if you neglect them for a while? Will your personal trainer turn up if you forget to pay them? No, but an artificial agent is always there for you. In some ways, it is a more authentic relationship.

This phenomenon occurred regardless of whether the agent was designed to act as a personal banker, a companion, or a fitness coach. Users spoke to the automated assistants longer than they did to human support agents performing the same function.

People would volunteer deep secrets to artificial agents, like their dreams for the future, details of their love lives, even passwords.

These surprisingly deep connections mean even today’s relatively simple programs can exert a significant influence on people—for good or ill.

Every behavioral change we at Cognea wanted, we got. If we wanted a user to buy more product, we could double sales. If we wanted more engagement, we got people going from a few seconds of interaction to an hour or more a day.

Systems specifically designed to form relationships with a human will have much more power. AI will influence how we think, and how we treat others.

This requires a new level of corporate responsibility. We need to deliberately and consciously build AI that will improve the human condition—not just pursue the immediate financial gain of gazillions of addicted users.

We need to consciously build systems that work for the benefit of humans and society. They cannot have addiction, clicks, and consumption as their primary goal. AI is growing up, and will be shaping the nature of humanity.

AI needs a mother.

Source: MIT Technology Review 

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Tech Giants Grapple with the Ethical Concerns Raised by the #AI Boom

“We’re here at an inflection point for AI. We have an ethical imperative to harness AI to protect and preserve over time.” Eric Horvitz, managing director of Microsoft Research

2017 EmTech panel discussion

One shared concern was that recent advances are leading companies to put software in positions with very direct control over humans—for example in health care.

Francesca Rossi, a researcher at IBM, gave the example of a machine providing assistance or companionship to elderly people. “This robot will have to follow cultural norms that are culture-specific and task-specific,” she said. “[And] if you were to deploy in the U.S. or Japan, that behavior would have to be very different.”

In the past year, many efforts to research the ethical challenges of machine learning and AI have sprung up in academia and industry. The University of California, Berkeley; Harvard; and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge have all started programs or institutes to work on ethics and safety in AI. In 2016, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, IBM, and Facebook jointly founded a nonprofit called Partnership on AI to work on the problem (Apple joined in January).

Companies are also taking individual action to build safeguards around their technology.

  • Gupta highlighted research at Google that is testing ways to correct biased machine-learning models, or prevent them from becoming skewed in the first place.
  • Horvitz described Microsoft’s internal ethics board for AI, dubbed AETHER, which considers things like new decision algorithms developed for the company’s in-cloud services. Although currently populated with Microsoft employees, in future the company hopes to add outside voices as well.
  • Google has started its own AI ethics board.

Technology Review

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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AI is one of top 5 tools humanity has ever had

 A few highlights from AI panel at the White House Frontiers Conference

On the impact of AI

Andrew McAfee (MIT):

white-house-frontiers-ai-panel

To view video, click on pic, scroll down the page to Live Stream and click to start the video. It may take a min and then go to the time you want to watch.

(Begins @ 2:40:34)

We are at an inflection point … I think the development of these kinds of [AI] tools are going to rank among probably the top 5 tools humanity has ever had to take better care of each other and to tread more lightly on the planet … top 5 in our history. Like the book, maybe, the steam engine, maybe, written language — I might put the Internet there. We’ve all got our pet lists of the biggest inventions ever. AI needs to be on the very, very, short list.

On bias in AI

Fei-Fei Li, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University:

(Begins @ 3:14:57)

Research repeatedly has shown that when people work in diverse groups there is increased creativity and innovation.

And interestingly, it is harder to work as a diverse group. I’m sure everybody here in the audience have had that experience. We have to listen to each other more. We have to understand the perspective more. But that also correlates well with innovation and creativity. … If we don’t have the inclusion of [diverse] people to think about the problems and the algorithms in AI, we might not only being missing the innovation boat we might actually create bias and create unfairness that are going to be detrimental to our society … 

What I have been advocating at Stanford, and with my colleagues in the community is, let’s bring the humanistic mission statement into the field of AI. Because AI is fundamentally an applied technology that’s going to serve our society. Humanistic AI not only raises the awareness and the importance of our technology, it’s actually a really, really important way to attract diverse students and technologists and innovators to participate in the technology of AI.

There has been a lot of research done to show that people with diverse background put more emphasis on humanistic mission in their work and in their life. So, if in our education, in our research, if we can accentuate or bring out this humanistic message of this technology, we are more likely to invite the diversity of students and young technologists to join us.

On lack of minorities in AI

Andrew Moore Dean, School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University:

(Begins @ 3:19:10)

I so strongly applaud what you [Fei-Fei Li] are describing here because I think we are engaged in a fight here for how the 21st century pans out in terms of who’s running the world … 

The nightmare, the silly, silly thing we could do … would be if … the middle of the century is built by a bunch of non-minority guys from suburban moderately wealthy United States instead of the full population of the United States.

Source: Frontiers Conference
Click on the video that says Live Stream (event will start shortly)
it may take a minute to load

(Update 02/24/17: The original timelines listed above may be different when revisiting this video.)

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How Deep Learning is making AI prejudiced

Bloggers note: The authors of this research paper show what they refer to as “machine prejudice” and how it derives so fundamentally from human culture. 

“Concerns about machine prejudice are now coming to the fore–concerns that our historic biases and prejudices are being reified in machines,” they write. “Documented cases of automated prejudice range from online advertising (Sweeney, 2013) to criminal sentencing (Angwin et al., 2016).”

Following are a few excerpts: 

machine-prejudiceAbstract

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning are in a period of astounding growth. However, there are concerns that these technologies may be used, either with or without intention, to perpetuate the prejudice and unfairness that unfortunately characterizes many human institutions. Here we show for the first time that human-like semantic biases result from the application of standard machine learning to ordinary language—the same sort of language humans are exposed to every day.

Discussion

“We show for the first time that if AI is to exploit via our language the vast knowledge that culture has compiled, it will inevitably inherit human-like prejudices. In other words, if AI learns enough about the properties of language to be able to understand and produce it, it also acquires cultural associations that can be offensive, objectionable, or harmful. These are much broader concerns than intentional discrimination, and possibly harder to address.

Awareness is better than blindness

“… where AI is partially constructed automatically by machine learning of human culture, we may also need an analog of human explicit memory and deliberate actions, that can be trained or programmed to avoid the expression of prejudice.

“Of course, such an approach doesn’t lend itself to a straightforward algorithmic formulation. Instead it requires a long-term, interdisciplinary research program that includes cognitive scientists and ethicists. …”

Click here to download the pdf of the report
Semantics derived automatically from language corpora necessarily contain human biases
Aylin Caliskan-Islam , Joanna J. Bryson, and Arvind Narayanan

1 Princeton University
2 University of Bath
Draft date August 31, 2016.

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Grandma? Now you can see the bias in the data …

“Just type the word grandma in your favorite search engine image search and you will see the bias in the data, in the picture that is returned  … you will see the race bias.” — Fei-Fei Li, Professor of Computer Science, Stanford University, speaking at the White House Frontiers Conference

Google image search for Grandma 

google-grandmas

Bing image search for Grandma

grandma-bing

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China has now eclipsed U.S. in AI research

As more industries and policymakers awaken to the benefits of machine learning, two countries appear to be pulling away in the research race. The results will probably have significant implications for the future of AI.

articles-on-deep-learning

What’s striking about it is that although the United States was an early leader on deep-learning research, China has effectively eclipsed it in terms of the number of papers published annually on the subject. The rate of increase is remarkably steep, reflecting how quickly China’s research priorities have shifted.

quality-deep-learning-researchThe quality of China’s research is also striking. The chart below narrows the research to include only those papers that were cited at least once by other researchers, an indication that the papers were influential in the field.

Compared with other countries, the United States and China are spending tremendous research attention on deep learning. But, according to the White House, the United States is not investing nearly enough in basic research.

“Current levels of R&D spending are half to one-quarter of the level of R&D investment that would produce the optimal level of economic growth,”
a companion report published this week by the Obama administration finds.

Source: The Washington Post

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Artificial Intelligence Will Be as Biased and Prejudiced as Its Human Creators

ai-appleThe optimism around modern technology lies in part in the belief that it’s a democratizing force—one that isn’t bound by the petty biases and prejudices that humans have learned over time. But for artificial intelligence, that’s a false hope, according to new research, and the reason is boneheadedly simple: Just as we learn our biases from the world around us, AI will learn its biases from us.

Source: Pacific Standard

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Machine learning needs rich feedback for AI teaching

With AI systems largely receiving feedback in a binary yes/no format, Monash University professor Tom Drummond says rich feedback is needed to allow AI systems to know why answers are incorrect.

In much the same way children have to be told not only what they are saying is wrong, but why it is wrong, artificial intelligence (AI) systems need to be able to receive and act on similar feedback.

“Rich feedback is important in human education, I think probably we’re going to see the rise of machine teaching as an important field — how do we design systems so that they can take rich feedback and we can have a dialogue about what the system has learnt?”

“We need to be able to give it rich feedback and say ‘No, that’s unacceptable as an answer because … ‘ we don’t want to simply say ‘No’ because that’s the same as saying it is grammatically incorrect and its a very, very blunt hammer,” Drummond said.

The flaw of objective function

According to Drummond, one problematic feature of AI systems is the objective function that sits at the heart of a system’s design.

The professor pointed to the match between Google DeepMind’s AlphaGo and South Korean Go champion Lee Se-dol in March, which saw the artificial intelligence beat human intelligence by 4 games to 1.

In the fourth match, the only one where Se-dol picked up a victory, after clearly falling behind, the machine played a number of moves that Drummond described as insulting if played by a human due to the position AlphaGo found itself in.

“Here’s the thing, the objective function was the highest probability of victory, it didn’t really understand the social niceties of the game.

“At that point AlphaGo knew it had lost but it still tried to maximise its probability of victory, so it played all these moves … a move that threatens a large group of stones, but has a really obvious counter and if somehow the human misses the counter move, then it’s won — but of course you would never play this, it’s not appropriate.”

Source: ZDNet

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The ultimate question we have to answer about AI

Are you willing to share your most intimate secrets with Cortana?

It may be time to learn how to get comfortable with an AI that knows you about as intimately as someone can be known


Microsoft’s vision for AI is to make Cortana an integral part of your everyday interactions with your computerized devices. The theme of this strategy is referred to as Democratizing AI. Cortana is to have an essential role for every person and every organization.

While the programming of AI and the creation of neural nets is all well and good, to be effective Cortana is going to have to get to know us—completely and intimately.

Cortana is going to know things like the fact that you indulge yourself with a cheeseburger on Friday afternoons after you have kept to your diet all week. It will know that you like to check your football fantasy team roster on Tuesday mornings rather than check your email like you should. Cortana is likely to discover patterns you didn’t even know existed—perhaps even patterns you will find embarrassing.

The question is:

Will you be okay with an AI knowing that much about you? Are you willing to let an AI, ultimately controlled by a for-profit corporation, get that close to you?

Source: TechRepublic

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We are evolving to an AI first world

“We are at a seminal moment in computing … we are evolving from a mobile first to an AI first world,” says Sundar Pichai.

“Our goal is to build a personal Google for each and every user … We want to build each user, his or her own individual Google.”

Watch 4 mins of Sundar Pichai’s key comments about the role of AI in our lives and how a personal Google for each of us will work. 

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Machine prejudice from deep learning is infecting AI

This study by Aylin Caliskan-Islam1 , Joanna J. Bryson1,2, and Arvind Narayanan

Message from the bloggers of this post: This research paper is a bit deep, but it is very important in the discussion of socializing AI as it identifies what the authors call “machine prejudice” as an inevitable outcome from deep learning. Here we have pulled a few excerpts. To download the entire research paper click on the link below.

Abstract

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are in a period of astounding growth. However, there are concerns that these technologies may be used, either with or without intention, to perpetuate the prejudice and unfairness that unfortunately characterizes many human institutions. Here we show for the first time that human-like semantic biases result from the application of standard machine learning to ordinary language—the same sort of language humans are exposed to every day.

… Human learning is also a form of computation. Therefore our finding that data derived from human culture will deliver biases and prejudice have implications for the human sciences as well.

We argue that prejudice must be addressed as a component of any intelligent system learning from our culture. It cannot be entirely eliminated from the system, but rather must be compensated for.

Challenges in addressing bias
Redresses such as transparent development of AI technology and improving diversity and ethical training of developers, while useful, do little to address the kind of prejudicial bias we expose here. Unfortunately, our work points to several additional reasons why addressing bias in machine learning will be harder than one might expect. …

Awareness is better than blindness
… However, where AI is partially constructed automatically by machine learning of human culture, we may also need an analog of human explicit memory and deliberate actions, that can be trained or programmed to avoid the expression of prejudice.

Of course, such an approach doesn’t lend itself to a straightforward algorithmic formulation. Instead it requires a long-term, interdisciplinary research program that includes cognitive scientists and ethicists. …

Study title: Semantics derived automatically from language corpora necessarily contain human biases

Source: Princeton University and University of Bath (click to download)

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The big reveal: AI’s deep learning is biased

A comment from the writers of this blog: 

The chart below visualizes 175 cognitive biases that humans have, meticulously organized by Buster Benson and algorithmically designed by John Manoogian III.

Many of these biases are implicit bias which refers to the attitudes or stereotypes that affect our understanding, actions, and decisions in an unconscious manner. These biases, embedded in our language, are now getting embedded in big data. They are being absorbed by deep learning and are now influencing Artificial Intelligence. Going forward, this will impact how AI interacts with humans.

We have featured many other posts on this blog recently about this issue—how AI is demonstrating bias—and we are adding this “cheat sheet” to further illustrate the kinds of human bias that AI is learning. 

Illustration content Buster Benson, “diagrammatic poster remix” by John Manoogian III

Source: Buster Benson blog

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Google’s AI Plans Are A Privacy Nightmare

googles-ai-plans-are-a-privacy-nightmareGoogle is betting that people care more about convenience and ease than they do about a seemingly oblique notion of privacy, and it is increasingly correct in that assumption.

Google’s new assistant, which debuted in the company’s new messaging app Allo, works like this: Simply ask the assistant a question about the weather, nearby restaurants, or for directions, and it responds with detailed information right there in the chat interface.

Because Google’s assistant recommends things that are innately personal to you, like where to eat tonight or how to get from point A to B, it is amassing a huge collection of your most personal thoughts, visited places, and preferences  In order for the AI to “learn” this means it will have to collect and analyze as much data about you as possible in order to serve you more accurate recommendations, suggestions, and data.

In order for artificial intelligence to function, your messages have to be unencrypted.

These new assistants are really cool, and the reality is that tons of people will probably use them and enjoy the experience. But at the end of the day, we’re sacrificing the security and privacy of our data so that Google can develop what will eventually become a new revenue stream. Lest we forget: Google and Facebook have a responsibility to investors, and an assistant that offers up a sponsored result when you ask it what to grab for dinner tonight could be a huge moneymaker.

Source: Gizmodo

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Understand The Spectrum Of Seven Artificial Intelligence Outcomes

spectrum-of-outcomes-for-ai-768x427

Successful AI projects seek a spectrum of outcomes, says R “Ray” Wang. 

AI driven smart services will power the future business models. As with most disruptive business models, form must follow function. Just enabling AI for AI’s sake will result in a waste of time. However, applying a spectrum of outcomes to transform the business models of AI powered organizations will indeed result in a disruptive business model and successful digital transformation.

SPECTRUM OF SEVEN OUTCOMES FOR AI
  1. Perception describes what’s happening now.
  2. Notification tells you what you asked to know.
  3. Suggestion recommends action.
  4. Automation repeats what you always want.
  5. Prediction informs you what to expect.
  6. Prevention helps you avoid bad outcomes.
  7. Situational awareness tells you what you need to know right now.

Source: Software Insider

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The Advent of Virtual Humans

Social intelligence

Enter the virtual humans. Not the Hollywood kind, but software agents that mimic and engage us. Apple has Siri, Microsoft features Cortana, Amazon offers Alexa and Google is rolling out its Assistant. Those are separate from the specialized AI programs that provide leadership training, help adults in therapy and assist children with autism.

Smarter, more autonomous systems that are able to act on their own will be able to interpret your moods from seeing where you’re looking, how you’ve tilted your head or if you’re frowning — and then respond to your needs.

USC’s SimSensei program has been developing AI to do just that. While chatting with people, SimSensei records, quantifies and analyzes our behavior and gets to know us better. One application displays an onscreen virtual therapist named Ellie who gets people to tell her about their problems. She adjusts her speech and gestures to show she’s paying attention and understands what’s bothering you.

The program has been adapted to coach people in public speaking and handling themselves in job interviews. The US Army has used it for leadership training.

Source: CNET

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AI Is The Future Of Salesforce.com

marc-benioffIf Salesforce founder Marc Benioff has his way, artificial intelligence software will infuse every facet of the corporate world, making employees faster, smarter and more productive.

Recently he’s been investing heavily, buying smaller companies and hiring talent to build an artificially intelligent platform called Einstein.

It’s a big deal. Einstein will not just consume and manage information like traditional CRM software suites. It will learn from the data. Ultimately it will understand what customers want before even they know. That would be a game-changer in the CRM industry.

Building Einstein has not been easy, or cheap. Salesforce started buying productivity and machine learning startups RelateIQ, MetaMind, and Tempo AI in 2014. This year it acquired e-commerce developer Demandware for $2.8 billion, Quip for $750 million, Beyondcore for $110 million, three very small companies, Implisit Insights, Coolan and PredictionIO for $58 million and Your SL, a German digital consulting concern to round out its German softwareunit. If all of that seems like a lot, it is. It’s also $4 billion spent and, more important, a significant increase in head count.

Source: Forbes

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DO NO HARM, DON’T DISCRIMINATE: Official guidance issued on robot ethics

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Welcoming the guidelines at the Social Robotics and AI conference in Oxford, Alan Winfield, a professor of robotics at the University of the West of England, said they represented “the first step towards embedding ethical values into robotics and AI”.

Winfield said: “Deep learning systems are quite literally using the whole of the data on the internet to train on, and the problem is that that data is biased. These systems tend to favour white middle-aged men, which is clearly a disaster. All the human prejudices tend to be absorbed, or there’s a danger of that.”

“As far as I know this is the first published standard for the ethical design of robots,” Winfield said after the event. “It’s a bit more sophisticated than that Asimov’s laws – it basically sets out how to do an ethical risk assessment of a robot.

The guidance even hints at the prospect of sexist or racist robots, warning against “lack of respect for cultural diversity or pluralism”.

“This is already showing up in police technologies,” said Sharkey, adding that technologies designed to flag up suspicious people to be stopped at airports had already proved to be a form of racial profiling.

Source: The Guardian

 

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