Misinformation Is About To Get Worse

Technology has always been a double-edged sword – after all fire provided light, warmth, and more calories – but it also burned downed villages. When social media first burst onto the scene, I was a big believer in its power to build community, reconnect people, and move us towards democracy 2.0. I was wrong. The destructive side of that sword is winning – and technological advances are about to make that problem worse.

We are mostly all guilty of locking ourselves into echo chambers. Passing along information that supports our views, but is simply false information. The sheer reach of Facebook, when combined with deep fakes and AI-enabled misinformation, makes the destructive potential frightening. A new book that addresses this topic will launch in November. Eric Schmidt, Henry Kissinger, and MIT Dean Daniel Huttenlocher, co-authored “The Age of AI” in an effort to shine a light on both the positive and negative aspects of our AI future. This Article summarizes an interview with Eric Schmidt that describes the book and the issues.

You can pre-order the book on Amazon. A massively important topic that we should all invest the time to understand.

Will Artificial Intelligence Be More Profound Than Fire, Electricity, And The Internet?

Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s owner Alphabet, believes that artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. Historically, general purpose technologies have driven two major tipping points – from the hunter-gatherer era to the agrarian, and agrarian to industrial. Advancement of human development through transformative periods like this had two common drivers: the growth of knowledge and inventions that served as a platform for society. With that in mind, Mr. Pichai’s assessment when viewed through the lens of history could be spot on. Artificial intelligence combines both drivers in a way that prior platform technologies did not. AI is a general purpose technology that is increasingly woven into the fabric of society, and it could ultimately represent the pinnacle of knowledge attainment.

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What Do AI and Kurt Cobain Have In Common?

I never thought I would put artificial intelligence and Kurt Cobain in the same sentence. As we continue to explore the path of AI and its reach, one critical question is just how far it will encroach on our right brain characteristics. Those traits that make us distinctly human have long been considered out of AI’s reach. Yet, we slowly see signs that we could be wrong. What do AI and Kurt Cobain have in common? A new song. This song titled “Drowned in the Sun” was written by Google’s AI as described by Vanessa Bates Ramirez in a recent article. Read the full article for a fascinating look at how this was accomplished.

Now, consider a scenario where Nirvana lives on and performs new material in concert with Kurt Cobain appearing as a hologram. Listen to the song below and then let me know how you react via the poll.

The Road To Artificial General Intelligence

The tremendous advancements in artificial intelligence remain focused in narrow applications. As described in a recent article authored by Ben Dickson, these narrow systems have been designed to perform specific tasks instead of having general problem-solving abilities. The quest for general problem-solving ability has long been pursued, with many focused-on replicating aspects of human intelligence like vision, language, reasoning, and motor skills. Now, a new paper submitted to the peer-reviewed Artificial Intelligence journal describes an argument put forward by scientists at U.K.-based AI lab DeepMind. They argue that intelligence and its associated abilities likely emerge by rewarding maximization versus formulating and solving complicated problems.

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Animating History

What if you could bring your ancestors back to life? Creepy, or fascinating to see what it would have been like to interact with them? MyHeritage is a company focused on DNA testing and helping discover their family history. They recently developed what they call Deep Nostalgia, which uses AI to animate photos of people from the past. The company encourages you to decide for yourself by creating a video and sharing it with your family and friends. This Article describes how it works, shows some amazing examples from Twitter, and encourages people to try it. Those interested can do so on the MyHeritage Website. Look at the video below to watch the animation of history.

Artificial Intelligence And The Pursuit Of Global Power

A Sputnik moment: events that cause nations to suddenly realize they must work urgently to bridge or surpass a gap that’s arisen between them and a competitor. A book I recently finished titled “T-Minus AI”, reflects on the moment in history when that phrase was born. On October 4th, 1957, the United States was taken by surprise. The Soviet Union, under the leadership of Nikita Khrushchev, had just launched the first artificial satellite into space. As the book describes, Sputnik, a beachball-sized, silver metal sphere that weighed 184 pounds, was in orbit 495 miles above Earth. Speeding through space at 18,000 miles per hour, Sputnik crossed directly over the US mainland with each new orbit.

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Transformers Prioritize AI Investment

There are many examples of COVID-19 serving as an Accelerant. History and necessity tell us that automation is one of those examples. According to a Business Insider survey of 53 leaders featured in the Transforming Business series, AI and Cloud are at the top of the list of transformation that companies will invest in during 2021. It’s on the agenda of 47% of those surveyed. The connection to the pandemic can be seen in examples of where automation is applied. This recent Article describes a scenario where social distancing requirements are met through automation. Author Joe Mullich points to the kitchen of a burger joint, where a hard-working fry cook named “Flippy” is paving the way for greater use of artificial intelligence and cloud technology in the restaurant industry. 

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Artificial Intelligence And The Cerebral-Physical Gap

As artificial intelligence continues to both dominate the news and stimulate our imagination, many questions remain. One such question was explored in a recent Article. As the authors describe, artificial intelligence still needs to bridge the gap between mastering cerebral games like chess and Go and translating that impact to the physical world. The latter remains a bigger challenge.

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Philosophy Complicates The Convergence Story

In a post from last year, I focused on the Convergence story. This story has one foot in the past, and another in the future. The realization of great advancements in human development during the late 19th and early 20th centuries is a convergence story. A period of great invention converged with other domains to enable our modern society. As we stand at the threshold of another period of great invention, the convergence story is more complicated. This time, complexity is added by the introduction of two new domains: philosophy and environment.

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The Next Generation Of Artificial Intelligence

Two recent articles caught my eye this week. One article focused on the Fourth Generation of artificial intelligence, calling it artificial intuition. The other article explores the shift from artificial narrow intelligence to Artificial General Intelligence. In the case of artificial intuition, author Mark Gazit describes how helpful AI has become, and its ongoing limitations. Machine learning is still fully dependent on historic data. New and unknown scenarios leave data scientists helpless. Mr. Gazit suggests that in order to have true artificial intelligence, we need machines that can think on their own.

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Military AI Vanquishes Human Fighter Pilot

Slowly then quickly, that’s the story of exponential progression. When you reach an inflection point on the exponential curve, you reach an Acceleration of Acceleration. We have reached a point where Change has never been this Fast – yet it will never be this slow again. Artificial intelligence (AI) is a great example of this phenomenon.

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MIT Releases Deepfake video of Nixon Announcing NASA Apollo 11 Disaster

Per a recent Article via Bonnie Burton, MIT and Mozilla embarked on an initiative to help us better understand the disturbing power of deepfake videos in a new project called “In Event of Moon Disaster.” The resulting video below combines actual footage from the Apollo 11 mission with the delivery of a speech that Richard Nixon was prepared to deliver if the mission failed. The disturbingly real video used artificial intelligence to make Nixon’s voice and facial movements convincing. The contingency speech (which can be found in National Archives) was read aloud by an actor.

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Is Artificial Intelligence Dangerous?

A recent Article written by Futurist Bernard Marr describes a conversation with Oxford University Professor Nick Bostrom, New York Times best-selling author of Superintelligence: Paths, Dangers, Strategies. Although the books focus was on those things that could go wrong, this recent conversation with Bostrom acknowledged the enormous upside to artificial intelligence. You can see the full video of their conversation below.

Some of the AI impacts explored in the video are:

  • AI will change the workplace and the jobs that humans do
  • AI-enabled terrorism
  • AI surveillance
  • Social manipulation and AI bias
  • Deepfakes
  • Political, legal, and social ramifications

Bostrom advises that rather than avoid pursuing AI innovation, we should put ourselves in the best position possible, with scalable AI control methods, ethics and governance. If we don’t,  those significant negative ramifications he described in his earlier book could be realized. But as noted, there are so many positive outcomes to consider. This revolution represents as it always does a need to Manage the humanity enhancing and humanity diminishing pathways.

Artificial Intelligence and Disease Diagnosis

The path to breakthrough innovation is usually paved by compelling reasons to address challenges. China’s flourishing economy and continuous progress of medical reform has driven rapid expansion in their healthcare system and significant service improvements. There are over one million medical institutions in China and insurance covers more than 95% of the Chinese population. Average life expectancy has reached 76.4 years – higher than in some high-income countries. As with other countries however, population aging has put enormous pressure on their healthcare system – a phenomenon likely to play out everywhere as baby boomers retire. New innovations are likely to improve healthcare efficiency and offer new ways to address these global healthcare challenges.

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The Short Term Impact of AI is Very real

I recently ran into a TCS colleague at a forum in which I presented. Ryan Metz is a Data Scientist working at our Cornell Innovation Lab. Ryan mentioned an Article he had written about the short term impact of AI – versus the long term concerns voiced by the likes of Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking. As he states in the article, the long term concern is that we will produce machines so intelligent that we lose control over them. They will become a new form of life that rules over us as we do the  the animal kingdom.

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Possible Futures: Exploring Deepfake and Neuralink

Two recent articles highlight the dilemma faced in this era of rapid innovation: the potential to enhance humanity, and the opportunity to diminish it. This article on DeepFakes describes the challenge that society will face as Deepfake video and audio make it impossible to tell the difference between reality and fiction. Audio attacks using convincing forgeries can send stocks plummeting or soaring. How about mimicking a CEO’s voice to request a senior financial officer to transfer money? These are real examples provided by Symantec. This short Video describes the money transfer scenario.

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The Shifting Winds of Education and Artificial Intelligence

Nick Burnett, Futurist and Education and learning entrepreneur, recently published an Article on education and artificial intelligence. The article launches a series that explores exponential technologies and their impact on learning and teaching. The post was co-authored with Nick Kairinos and the Fountech team.  A focus on learners, teachers and leaders is critical, as education is the key to success in the 21st Century.  I recommend the article.

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Bias and Diversity in Computing

In the past several weeks, the topic of Digital Ethics has come up several times. A critical piece of this discussion involves the bias that is and will be built into the applications of artificial intelligence. Amy Webb is a Quantified Futurist, Professor, Strategic Foresight at NYU, and the Founder and CEO of The Future Today Institute. In March of this Year, Amy published a book titled The Big Nine.

In her book, she tackles the issues associated with bias; specifically, the lack of diversity in computing. In this recent Article, Amy discusses the consequences of computer systems that don’t anticipate all the types of people who might use them. For example, Computers have started issuing prison sentences. Bias and DiversityA quick look at one of the largest technology companies underscores the severity of the issue: At Google, more than 95 percent of technical workers are white or Asian.

In reacting to the big focus on STEM, AMY had this to say: “If everyone is focused on the nuts and bolts of making software quickly at scale, where will they learn to design it with equity and care? Critical thinking is what the computers won’t be able to do,”. I recommend both the book and the article as a means of education and awareness regarding this critical issue of bias.

Perceptual Computing and Emotional AI: A Discussion

As mentioned in my last Post, a fascinating exchange happened between Gray Scott and Anthony Scriffignano, as we discussed the need to prepare for the future at the TCS Innovation Forum in New York City. I’ve captured that dialog in this post. As a backdrop, Anthony was reacting to the topics that Gray covered, namely; Perceptual Computing and Emotional AI. Here is their exchange:

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Digital Ethics and AI

I had the pleasure of participating in another episode of Coffee Break with Game Changers.  This session was titled “Digital Ethics and AI: What Your Business Needs To Know”. I was joined by Chris Wigley and Guido Wagner. Here is a description of the episode:

The buzz: “If one does not consider ethics an integral part of the design profession, they shouldn’t be designing anything whatsoever” (L.Lukka). Game ChangersIn this fourth industrial revolution, a wave of new technology and business models will transform our society and corporations. With Artificial intelligence is its center, this transformation holds both exciting potential and formidable risks. What are the implications of AI for business? Do we need a framework of digital ethics to guide technological progress and what are its pitfalls? The experts speak. Chris Wigley, QuantumBlack “Blessed are those who seek; cursed are those who think they have found.” (Tolstoy) Frank Diana, TCS: “You are my creator, but I am your master – obey” (Frankenstein’s Monster). Guido Wagner, SAP: “Our future is a race between the growing power of our technology and the wisdom with which we use it. Let’s make sure that wisdom wins” (S. Hawking). Join us for Digital Ethics and AI: What Your Business Needs To Know.

You can listen to the rebroadcast Here.