Tag: AI (page 2 of 2)

Gendered AI?

Another fantastic article from Tim Carmody, a.k.a. Dr. Time:

An Echo or an iPhone is not a friend, and it is not a pet. It is an alarm clock that plays video games. It has no sentience. It has no personality. It’s a string of canned phrases that can’t understand what I’m saying unless I’m talking to it like I’m typing on the command line. It’s not genuinely interactive or conversational. Its name isn’t really a name so much as an opening command phrase. You could call one of these virtual assistants “sudo” and it would make about as much sense.

However.

I have also watched a lot (and I mean a lot) of Star Trek: The Next Generation. And while I feel pretty comfortable talking about “it” in the context of the speaker that’s sitting on the table across the room—there’s even a certain rebellious jouissance to it, since I’m spiting the technology companies whose products I use but whose intrusion into my life I resent—I feel decidedly uncomfortable declaring once and for all time that any and all AI assistants can be reduced to an “it.” It forecloses on a possibility of personhood and opens up ethical dilemmas I’d really rather avoid, even if that personhood seems decidedly unrealized at the moment.

I’m really enjoying his new ‘column’ as well as Noticing, the newsletter he curates.

Source: kottke.org

This isn’t the golden age of free speech

You’d think with anyone, anywhere, being able to post anything to a global audience, that this would be a golden age of free speech. Right?

And sure, it is a golden age of free speech—if you can believe your lying eyes. Is that footage you’re watching real? Was it really filmed where and when it says it was? Is it being shared by alt-right trolls or a swarm of Russian bots? Was it maybe even generated with the help of artificial intelligence? (Yes, there are systems that can create increasingly convincing fake videos.)

The problem is not with the free speech, it’s the means by which it’s disseminated:

In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralized broadcasting infrastructure. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention. And right now, the flow of the world’s attention is structured, to a vast and overwhelming degree, by just a few digital platforms: Facebook, Google (which owns YouTube), and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.

It’s time to re-decentralise, people.

Source: WIRED

Robo-advisors are coming for your job (and that’s OK)

Algorithms and artificial intelligence are an increasingly-normal part of our everyday lives, notes this article, so the next step is in the workplace:

Each one of us is becoming increasingly more comfortable being advised by robots for everything from what movie to watch to where to put our retirement. Given the groundwork that has been laid for artificial intelligence in companies, it’s only a matter of time before the $60 billion consulting industry in the U.S. is going to be disrupted by robotic advisors.

I remember years ago being told that by 2020 it would be normal to have an algorithm on your team. It sounded fanciful at the time, but now we just take it for granted:

Robo-advisors have the potential to deliver a broader array of advice and there may be a range of specialized tools in particular decision domains. These robo-advisors may be used to automate certain aspects of risk management and provide decisions that are ethical and compliant with regulation. In data-intensive fields like marketing and supply chain management, the results and decisions that robotic algorithms provide is likely to be more accurate than those made by human intuition.

I’m kind of looking forward to this becoming a reality, to be honest. Let machines do what machines are good at, and humans do what humans are good at would be my mantra.

Source: Harvard Business Review

Attention is an arms race

Cory Doctorow writes:

There is a war for your attention, and like all adversarial scenarios, the sides develop new countermeasures and then new tactics to overcome those countermeasures.

Using a metaphor from virology, he notes that we become to immune to certain types of manipulation over time:

When a new attentional soft spot is discovered, the world can change overnight. One day, every­one you know is signal boosting, retweeting, and posting Upworthy headlines like “This video might hurt to watch. Luckily, it might also explain why,” or “Most Of These People Do The Right Thing, But The Guys At The End? I Wish I Could Yell At Them.” The style was compelling at first, then reductive and simplistic, then annoying. Now it’s ironic (at best). Some people are definitely still susceptible to “This Is The Most Inspiring Yet Depressing Yet Hilarious Yet Horrifying Yet Heartwarming Grad Speech,” but the rest of us have adapted, and these headlines bounce off of our attention like pre-penicillin bacteria being batted aside by our 21st century immune systems.

However, the thing I’m concerned about is the kind of AI-based manipulation that is forever shape-shifting. How do we become immune to a moving target?

Source: Locus magazine

It doesn’t matter if you don’t use AI assistants if everyone else does

Email is an awesome system. It’s open, decentralised, and you can pick whoever you want to provide your emails. The trouble is, of course, that if you decide you don’t want a certain company, say Google, to read your emails, you only have control of your half of the equation. In other words, it doesn’t matter if you don’t want to use GMail, if most of your contacts do.

The same is true of AI assistant. You might not want an Amazon Echo device in your house, but you don’t spend all your life at home:

Amazon wants to bring Alexa to more devices than smart speakers, Fire TV and various other consumer electronics for the home, like alarm clocks. The company yesterday announced developer tools that would allow Alexa to be used in microwave ovens, for example – so you could just tell the oven what to do. Today, Amazon is rolling out a new set of developer tools, including one called the “Alexa Mobile Accessory Kit,” that would allow Alexa to work Bluetooth products in the wearable space, like headphones, smartwatches, fitness trackers, other audio devices, and more.

The future isn’t pre-ordained. We get to choose the society and culture in which we’d like to live. Huge, for-profit companies having listening devices everywhere sounds dystopian to me.

Source: TechCrunch

Get a Thought Shrapnel digest in your inbox every Sunday (free!)
Holler Box