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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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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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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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

vox-genetically-enginnered-humans

 

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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 Artificial intelligence is becoming ubiquitous #AI

“I think the medical domain is set for a revolution.”

AI will make it possible to have a “personal companion” able to assist you through life.

I think one of the most exciting prospects is the idea of a digital agent, something that can act on our behalf, almost become like a personal companion and that can do many things for us. For example, at the moment, we have to deal with this tremendous complexity of dealing with so many different services and applications, and the digital world feels as if it’s becoming ever more complex,” Bishop told CNBC.

“I think artificial intelligence is probably the biggest transformation in the IT industry. Medical is such a big area in terms of GDP that that’s got to be a good bet,” Christopher Bishop, lab director at Microsoft Research in Cambridge, U.K., told CNBC in a TV interview.

” … imagine an agent that can act on your behalf and be the interface between you and that very complex digital world, and furthermore one that would grow with you, and be a very personalized agent, that would understand you and your needs and your experience and so on in great depth.

Source: CNBC

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Sixty-two percent of organizations will be using artificial intelligence (AI) by 2018, says Narrative Science

AI growth chart 2016Artificial intelligence received $974m of funding as of June 2016 and this figure will only rise with the news that 2016 saw more AI patent applications than ever before.

This year’s funding is set to surpass 2015’s total and CB Insights suggests that 200 AI-focused companies have raised nearly $1.5 billion in equity funding.

AI-stats-by-sector

Artificial Intelligence statistics by sector

AI isn’t limited to the business sphere, in fact the personal robot market, including ‘care-bots’, could reach $17.4bn by 2020.

Care-bots could prove to be a fantastic solution as the world’s populations see an exponential rise in elderly people. Japan is leading the way with a third of government budget on robots devoted to the elderly.

Source: Raconteur: The rise of artificial intelligence in 6 charts

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AI predicted to impact the U.S. economy by “trillions” by 2025

Accenture Expands Global Artificial Intelligence Capabilities and R&D Agenda

“Artificial intelligence will disrupt businesses and industries on a global scale, and we see this shift going well beyond deploying analytics, cognitive computing or machine learning systems in isolation,” said Paul Daugherty, Accenture’s chief technology officer. “We are investing early to drive more innovation at Accenture, recruit top talent in every location we operate in, and infuse more intelligence across our global business to help clients accelerate the integration of intelligence and automation to transform their businesses.”

Accenture has also established the Accenture Technology Labs University Grant on Artificial Intelligence; awarding the inaugural grant to an academic research team at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at University College Dublin. The research team will explore the interface between humans and machines, using cognitive analysis to better understand how both can collaborate and interact effectively.

Analyst firm IDC predicts that the worldwide content analytics, discovery and cognitive systems software market will grow from US$4.5 billion in 2014 to US$9.2 billion in 20191, with others citing these systems as catalyst to have a US$5 trillion – US$7 trillion potential economic impact by 2025.

Source: Businesswire

 

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The trauma of telling Siri you’ve been dumped

Of all the ups and downs that I’ve had in my dating life, the most humiliating moment was having to explain to Siri that I got dumped.

burn photo of ex

I found an app called Picture to Burn that aims to digitally reproduce the cathartic act of burning an ex’s photo

“Siri, John isn’t my boyfriend anymore,” I confided to my iPhone, between sobs.

“Do you want me to remember that John is not your boyfriend anymore?” Siri responded, in the stilted, masculine British robot dialect I’d selected in “settings.”

Callously, Siri then prompted me to tap either “yes” or “no.”

I was ultimately disappointed in what technology had to offer when it comes to heartache. This is one of the problems that Silicon Valley doesn’t seem to care about.

The truth is, there isn’t (yet) a quick tech fix for a breakup.

A few months into the relationship I’d asked Siri to remember which of the many Johns* in my contacts was the one I was dating. At the time, divulging this information to Siri seemed like a big step — at long last, we were “Siri Official!” Now, though, we were Siri-Separated. Having to break the news to my iPhone—my non-human, but still intimate companion—surprisingly stung.

Even if you unfollow, unfriend and restrain yourself from the temptation of cyberstalking, our technologies still hold onto traces of our relationships.

Perhaps, in the future, if I tell Siri I’ve just gotten dumped, it will know how to handle things more gently, offering me some sort of pre-programmed comfort, rather than algorithms that constantly surface reminders of the person who is no longer a “favorite” contact in my phone.

Source: Fusion 

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Inside the surprisingly sexist world of artificial intelligence

women in aiRight now, the real danger in the world of artificial intelligence isn’t the threat of robot overlords — it’s a startling lack of diversity.

There’s no doubt Stephen Hawking is a smart guy. But the world-famous theoretical physicist recently declared that women leave him stumped.

“Women should remain a mystery,” Hawking wrote in response to a Reddit user’s question about the realm of the unknown that intrigued him most. While Hawking’s remark was meant to be light-hearted, he sounded quite serious discussing the potential dangers of artificial intelligence during Reddit’s online Q&A session:

The real risk with AI isn’t malice but competence. A superintelligent AI will be extremely good at accomplishing its goals, and if those goals aren’t aligned with ours, we’re in trouble.

Hawking’s comments might seem unrelated. But according to some women at the forefront of computer science, together they point to an unsettling truth. Right now, the real danger in the world of artificial intelligence isn’t the threat of robot overlords—it’s a startling lack of diversity.

I spoke with a few current and emerging female leaders in robotics and artificial intelligence about how a preponderance of white men have shaped the fields—and what schools can do to get more women and minorities involved. Here’s what I learned:

  1. Hawking’s offhand remark about women is indicative of the gender stereotypes that continue to flourish in science.
  2. Fewer women are pursuing careers in artificial intelligence because the field tends to de-emphasize humanistic goals.
  3. There may be a link between the homogeneity of AI researchers and public fears about scientists who lose control of superintelligent machines.
  4. To close the diversity gap, schools need to emphasize the humanistic applications of artificial intelligence.
  5. A number of women scientists are already advancing the range of applications for robotics and artificial intelligence.
  6. Robotics and artificial intelligence don’t just need more women—they need more diversity across the board.

In general, many women are driven by the desire to do work that benefits their communities, desJardins says. Men tend to be more interested in questions about algorithms and mathematical properties.

Since men have come to dominate AI, she says, “research has become very narrowly focused on solving technical problems and not the big questions.”

Source: Quartz

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Round-the-clock AI Nurse saves lives

Sentient [Technologies] has its eyes on other big problems – for instance, finding an intelligent way to respond to sepsis infections, which kill 37,000 people in the UK every year at a rate greater than bowel cancer and lung cancer. “I can’t imagine a better place to use data,” [Antoine] Blondeau said. “It’s about saving lives. It’s about life and death.”

“The idea was: ‘Let’s create an AI nurse […] this nurse would always be on the clock, always on the lookout for you’.” The nurse they eventually built, in partnership with MIT, collected data on 6,000 patients for a year and was able to use that “to predict the onset of sepsis ahead of time with more than 90 percent accuracy.”

Source: Wired UK

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Internet to create a free teen-friendly hub where students can access info in one place

“I began my career as a high school teacher in the Bronx at a 5,000-student high school that’s since been shut down for chronic low-performance. That experience helped me understand how alone so many young people are as they are trying to figure out their future. Their parents are busy, their friends are worried about their own issues, and often they don’t have a teacher or other adult who is there to guide them,” Executive Director of GetSchooled.com Marie Groark

PLDid you know the average high school student spends less than one hour per school year with a guidance counselor mulling over college decisions? This, according to the National Association for College Admission Counseling.

Not only is this not nearly enough time to make decisions that can impact the rest of their lives, but for kids whose families can’t afford college prep, that might be their only interaction with someone equipped to steer them toward higher education.

Get Schooled has turned to the Internet to create a free teen-friendly hub where students can access relevant info in one place, from how to find and apply for scholarships to info on standardized tests to what type of school fits their personality. They cut the boredom factor with celebrity interviews and a gamification model that awards students points as they engage, redeemable for offline rewards.

We believe a role for AI, as a next step in this expanding opportunity, is to engage and collaborate with students individually about their own life and future. Get to know the unique perspective and situation of each student. To guide the student in what they personally need precisely when they need it. Equipping them with information tailored to their own personal journey. 

Source: Fast Company

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The great disconnect at Google about ‘people needs’

Eric Schmidt: AI Progress Is Just Starting

ericschmidtWhen AI becomes useful in practical matters, it gets utilized more and more. Schmidt thinks that the inflection point of AI use is just about here and that it will take off soon. He thinks that practical things will lead the way in the utilization curve of AI.

Schmidt wants society’s use of AI to “keep thinking first and foremost about people’s real needs, and the real world we all inhabit.”

An expert vacation planner, a supersmart email filter, and music services that predictively analyze what you want to listen to next are the some functions that he sees AI being used for.

AI will be solving practical, everyday problems, and doing well enough at it that AI use will seem the best way to solve such problems.

PL – Okay, we can’t let this one go. Google “keeps thinking first and foremost about people’s real needs?” And then Schmidt lists: A vacation planner? An email filter? Music filter? That’s cool. And useful, don’t get us wrong.

But, we think “real needs” of people should include, first and foremost, personal growth, relationships, parenting, well-being, jobs, careers, conflicts … These are real-world needs in the real world we inhabit. 

We think HUMAN BEHAVIOR is the elephant in the room for the tech world. 

Source: Information Week

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USC Study: Virtual assistants “way better” than talking to a person?

A new USC study suggests that patients are more willing to disclose personal information to virtual humans than actual ones, in large part because computers lack the proclivity to look down on people the way another human might.

“We know that developing a rapport and feeling free of judgment are two important factors that affect a person’s willingness to disclose personal information,” said co-author Jonathan Gratch, director of virtual humans research at ICT and a professor in USC’s Department of Computer Science. “The virtual character delivered on both these fronts and that is what makes this a particularly valuable tool for obtaining information people might feel sensitive about sharing.”

“The research, which was funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the U.S. Army, is promising for people suffering from post-traumatic stress and other mental anguish, said Gale Lucas, a social psychologist at USC’s Institute for Creative Technologies, who led the study. In intake interviews, people were more honest about their symptoms, no matter how potentially embarrassing, when they believed that a human observer wasn’t in on the conversation. “In any given topic, there’s a difference between what a person is willing to admit in person versus anonymously,” Lucas said. The study, which will be published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, provides the first empirical evidence that virtual humans can increase a patient’s willingness to disclose personal information in a clinical setting, researchers said. It also presents compelling reasons for doctors to start using virtual humans as medical screeners. The honest answers acquired by a virtual human could help doctors diagnose and treat their patients more appropriately …”

Source: NeuroscienceNews.com

Source Tanya Abrams – USC
Contact: USC press release
Original Research Abstract for for “It’s only a computer: Virtual humans increase willingness to disclose” by Gale M. Lucas, Jonathan Gratch, Aisha King, and Louis-Philippe Morency in Computers in Human Behavior. Published online July 9 2014 doi:10.1016/j.chb.2014.04.043

PL – Now, read my post HERE as I “connect the dots” between this topic (above) to the shortage of real professionals in behavioral health services. Kudos to those creating AI applications to advance our machines. But the time has come to use AI to advance our humanity.

 

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Aside

Point of this blog on Socializing AI

Artificial Intelligence must be about more than our things. It must be about more than our machines. It must be a way to advance human behavior in complex human situations. But this will require wisdom-powered code. It will require imprinting AI’s genome with social intelligence for human interaction. It must begin right now.”
— Phil Lawson
(read more)

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