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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.Continue reading
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.
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
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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. A 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.
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:
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). In 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.
Amy Webb is a Quantified Futurist. She is a 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.
Here is a description of the book via Amazon:
In this book, Amy Webb reveals the pervasive, invisible ways in which the foundations of AI–the people working on the system, their motivations, the technology itself–is broken. Within our lifetimes, AI will, by design, begin to behave unpredictably, thinking and acting in ways which defy human logic. The big nine corporations may be inadvertently building and enabling vast arrays of intelligent systems that don’t share our motivations, desires, or hopes for the future of humanity.
Much more than a passionate, human-centered call-to-arms, this book delivers a strategy for changing course, and provides a path for liberating us from algorithmic decision-makers and powerful corporations.
I just finished a fantastic book on artificial intelligence and the evolutionary path of China and the U.S.. Author Kai-Fu Lee inspires, as he focuses on the astounding capabilities of AI, and the one thing that only humans can provide; love. The journey includes the author’s own brush with mortality, and proposes a path forward: the synthesis on which we must build our shared future is AI’s ability to think, coupled with a human’s ability to love. He believes this synergy harnesses the undeniable power of artificial intelligence to generate prosperity, while also embracing our essential humanity. His hope for our future lies both in this new synergy between artificial intelligence and the human heart, and an AI-fueled age of abundance that fosters love and compassion in our societies.
I recommend reading this book from cover to cover. In the meantime, here is a summary organized by several key themes.
The brain is clearly one of the next great frontiers. In this World Economic Forum Article on reading minds, we get a glimpse into the exponential progression of brain science. The author cites research published by AI experts in China, the US and Japan showing that computers can replicate what people are thinking by using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) machines that measure brain activity – linked to deep neural networks that replicate human brain functions.
I had the pleasure of recording a Podcast with AJ Goldstein on a wide ranging set of topics. The central theme was artificial intelligence. We took a journey to the future and explored several possible paths for artificial intelligence. AJ had the following kind words to say as he shared the Podcast in various channels:
Last month I had the opportunity to sit down with one of the world’s leading futurists, Frank Diana, to discuss the future of artificial intelligence.
Today the episode has been released, and it’s one of the most meaningful conversations I’ve had on the podcast.
Rather than provide a subjective one-sided view, with every question that I asked about the future of AI, Frank responded with presenting both sides. He helped me understand “what does the optimist say?”, “what does the pessimist say?”, “what is the utopian view?”, “what’s the dystopian view?”… and in this way it quickly became one of the most balanced conversations I’ve had the chance to be a part of.
With over 30+ years of experience to pull from, Frank provided so many fascinating lenses through which to view our changing future… all the while outlining an insightful playbook of what we can do as individuals, communities, and societies to prepare for the inevitable change that’s going to come.
AJ drove the discussion on the following topics:
- Addressing the two tipping points that have occurred thus far in humanity and changed what it means to be human– and the coming third tipping point.
- Addressing some of the common fears that people have about the implications of advanced AI and robotics on the future.
- How the shift to an automated society might cause initial elimination of jobs, but ultimately will allow more time for pursuit of creative, entrepreneurial endeavors.
- A discussion on the characteristics needed to succeed in a world of change, and what you personally should do to prepare for it.
Enjoy the show!
Yesterday on Coffee Break with Game Changers, Bonnie D. Graham hosted a show focused on designing the future of humanity. You can listen to the rebroadcast here. The session abstract is included below. The show participants included: Bonnie, Masha Krol, Ian Gertler, Maricel Cabahug and myself.
In her opening monologue, Bonnie said:
The first impact of AI will be that more and more non-designers develop their creativity and social intelligence skills to bolster their employability – in the future, everyone will be a designer
With all the talk of AI and its potential negative impact on humanity, we lose sight of the positive. As an engine for augmentation, artificial intelligence is likely to advance our human potential. The effectiveness of what we do stands to improve – whether its creativity and design, or oriented in analytics. Some would prefer to call it “Augmented Intelligence” versus artificial intelligence. If we view the progression of AI on a spectrum, we could indeed reach the place of augmentation and never approach the other end of the spectrum. This lies at the heart of the artificial intelligence debate.