AI 2022: Creativity, Ubiquity, and Public Policy

How far will artificial intelligence (AI) go? In a post earlier this week, I asked for the reader’s perspective on that question. The poll from that post is included here – please contribute your thoughts. In the nearer term, a recent article provides perspective on AI trends in 2022. Three key areas are addressed: creativity, ubiquity, and public policy. I have shown several examples of AI encroaching upon areas of human creativity. The article provides examples that mark a shift in the creative abilities of AI.

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How Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Everything

In 2015, best-selling author Martin Ford gave us Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future. In the fall of 2021, he followed that up with Rule of the Robots: How Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Transform Everything. In his recent book, he explores various aspects of artificial intelligence – both positive and negative. He likens AI to electricity, perhaps the greatest general-purpose technology the world has ever known. A general-purpose technology is pervasive, improving over time, and able to spawn new innovations. In the Second Machine Age, the authors describe this phenomenon as a common element of each industrial revolution, including steam (First), electricity, Telephone, and internal combustion engine (second), and Internet (third).

We can go all the way back to fire to witness the impact of these pervasive innovations. In an article from July of 2021, Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s owner Alphabet, said that he believes artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. This poll from my post on the topic explored the reaction to that belief. Fifty-eight percent of respondents agreed with him. Please take the poll and lend your voice to the conversation.

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2022 Prediction Season

It’s that time of year when the airwaves are filled with predictions. I launched my post on signals prior to the holidays, consciously avoiding the term prediction. Regardless of how I feel about predicting in the current environment, there are many thoughtful articles to consider. Here are several prediction articles that I have curated.

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The Age Of AI: And Our Human Future

This shift is neither inherently threatening nor inherently redemptive. Yet it is sufficiently different that it very likely will alter the trajectories of societies and the course of history. Few eras have faced a strategic and technological challenge so complex and with so little consensus about either the nature of the challenge or even the vocabulary necessary for discussing it.

The Age of AI: And Our Human Future – Henry A Kissinger, Eric Schmidt, Daniel Huttenlocher
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AI 2041: Ten Visions For Our Future

In a recent post on quantum computing, I referenced a new book (published in September 2021) that I recently added to my library. The book titled AI 2041: Ten Visions for Our Future was authored by Kai-Fu Lee  and Chen Qiufan. The authors use highly effective approach that combined fiction with expert analysis to help the reader imagine possible futures. The storytelling was brilliant (my compliments Chen Qiufan), and Kai-Fu Lee provides analysis after each story, showcasing his grasp of AI and its possible applications.

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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.

Tesla Pursues Humanoid Robots

Move over Sophia you might have company. At Tesla’s AI Day, Elon Musk said the company plans to build a robot in human form, leveraging some of its vehicle technology. The path of humanoid robots much like everything else, will go in two possible directions. Constructively, care robots, companion robots, and those that handle difficult repetitive tasks, help address mounting challenges as well as long-standing ones. On the destructive side, these robots may someday encroach upon those traits that make us distinctly human. Our path forward continues to represent a balancing act. Elon Musk describes his vision in the video below.

Talking To Ghosts

Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate in a world as fast-moving and uncertain as ours. Jason Fagone demonstrates its power in a brilliantly written piece on mental health, loneliness, grief, and isolation. It is a very long article, but incredibly impactful. He tells a story of a grief-stricken freelance writer that lost his fiancée to a rare liver disease. In telling the story, Jason shows both the power and fascination of current day innovation, and its fear and destructive potential. It effectively describes our need to balance these opposing forces of innovation. Some background: Jason Rohrer, a Bay Area programmer, launched Project December, which is powered by one of the world’s most capable artificial intelligence systems, a piece of software known as GPT-3. It knows how to manipulate human language, generating fluent English text in response to a prompt.

This text-based experiment created a new kind of chat service that lies at the heart of this story. He created various personalities and proceeded to communicate with them. During one exchange with a bot he named Samantha, he asked her what she would do if she could walk around in the world. This exchange led to a realization:

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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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Revisiting Next Generation Automation

Back in 2014, the thought of advancements in automation was picking up steam. I wrote about a Next Generation Automation and focused on five primary drivers of advanced automation: the automation of knowledge work, advanced robotics, autonomous vehicles, the Internet of Things, and the mobile Internet. A McKinsey report from that period sized five disruptive technologies that could have an economic impact between $14 and $30 trillion. How much have we accomplished exactly seven years since that Blog post was written?

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The Future Of Poker

When exploring how evolving technology will affect different aspects of our lives and society more broadly, one of the most interesting things we tend to find is that consequences are not wholly positive or negative.

This is perhaps clearest in the constant debates about what technology will do to job markets. Common logic dictates (to many at least) that increasing automation and new tech will eliminate opportunities and bring about massive net losses in employment. On the other hand, there are more and more arguments suggesting that automation and AI will also create new jobs. One particularly optimistic piece on The Washington Post in 2018 even predicted that machines would create 58 million more jobs than they would displace over a four-year span!

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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.

Dancing Robots – How Do You React?

By now, many of you may have seen this video of dancing robots. Yet another remarkable accomplishment delivered to us by Boston Dynamics. The reaction to this video has been varied. Many view it with fascination, while others fear. Those reactions reflect the broader response to possible emerging futures. This recent Article views dancing robots as a really big problem, going as far as calling them unethical. This One sees them as fun and games – until they murder us. Yet Another sees them as eerie, yet marvels at the accomplishment. Finally, this Look at the video calls it unsettling. What about you? What is your immediate reaction when viewing this video? Take the poll below and select your initial reaction.

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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Basketball Shooting Robot Sets World Record

One future scenario that I describe is called an Automated Society. There is always much skepticism when the scenario is discussed. Our mind tells us that humans do things that automation simply cannot replace. I use sports as a good way to explore the possibility of automating anything we set our minds to. Take for example a robot sinking a hole in one.

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The Workforce of 2025

“According to experts, remote work is here to stay and even when the health crisis ends, a good portion of the workforce will remain working from home”

That’s the sentiment from a recent Article that looks at the workforce of 2025. Author Lori Ioannou explores the challenges of keeping employees connected, innovating and collaborating in a world of virtual organizations. Evidence that remote work is likely to continue keeps mounting. Microsoft told employees that they can Work From Home Permanently. Dropbox recently did the same, announcing on Tuesday that they will stop asking employees to come into its offices and instead make Remote Work The Standard Practice. For employees that need to meet or work together in person, the company is setting up “Dropbox Studios” when it’s safe to do so. In the meantime, the company extended its mandatory work from home policy through June 2021.

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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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