Game Changers: Can We Teach Machines to Predict?


Today on Coffee Break with Game Changers, Bonnie D. Graham hosted a show focused on the future of prediction. You can listen to the rebroadcast here. The session abstract is included below, as well as a Twitter stream that provides insight into the topic and our discussion. The show participants included: Bonnie, Gray Scott, and myself

Episode Description

The buzz: “Those who have knowledge, don’t predict. Those who predict, don’t have knowledge.” (Lao Tzu)

Given the uncertainty, pace, and unexpected nature of today’s world, there are too many unknowns for us to effectively predict the future. Reality check: A convergence across science, technology, politics, society, economics, the environment, and growing ethics discussion, has created a complex web that requires the type of system thinking that may exceed our human capacity. Do machines hold the answer? Can they predict the path of an overwhelming number of possible futures?

The experts speak. Frank Diana, TCS: “We have a duty to think hard about what may be, so as to better prepare society for the changes that may come” (Richard Baldwin). Gray Scott, Futurist: “Prediction is not just one of the things your brain does. It is the primary function of the neo-cortex, and the foundation of intelligence” (Jeff Hawkins). Join us for Tech Magic or Hype: Can We Teach Machines to Predict?

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Find out where you Stand on Artificial Intelligence


Technology is giving life the potential to flourish like never before, or to self-destruct – The Future of Life Institute.

I stumbled upon this organization while reading Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence by author Max Tegmark. Their mission is to catalyze and support research and initiatives for safeguarding life and developing optimistic visions of the future, including positive ways for humanity to steer its own course considering new technologies and challenges. They are a charity and outreach organization working to ensure that tomorrow’s most powerful technologies are beneficial for humanity – and the list of members is a whose who of the science and technology community.

In their view, technology is to thank for all the ways in which today is better than the stone age, and technology is likely to keep improving at an accelerating pace. From their website: with less powerful technologies such as fire, we learned to minimize risks largely by learning from mistakes. With more powerful technologies such as nuclear weapons, synthetic biology and future strong artificial intelligence, planning ahead is a better strategy than learning from mistakes.

They support research and other efforts aimed at proactively avoiding problems with a current focus on artificial intelligence. The book referenced above looks at the advance of AI and how it will impact life, exploring a broad spectrum of views on what will/should happen. Now, the organization is looking to expand the conversation to include as many voices as possible. Here is a look at the results of their Super Intelligence Survey. You can add your own voice by taking the survey here.

 

Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence


In a recent book titled, Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence, Northeastern University president Joseph Aoun proposes a way to educate the next generation of college students, supporting society in ways that artificial intelligence cannot. His underlying premise is that the existing model of higher education has yet to adapt to the seismic shifts rattling the foundations of the global economy – I firmly agree. It was Alvin Tofler that said: The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those that can’t read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.

This conversation is broader than a focus on school-aged young adults. What Tofler pronounced applies to all of us. In his book, Mr. Aoun presents a new model of learning that enables us to understand the highly technological world around us, allowing us to transcend it by nurturing the mental and intellectual qualities that are unique to humans – namely, their capacity for creativity and mental flexibility. He calls this model Humanics. These Human Traits represent our future skills profile, including many of the right brain characteristics visualized below. We will want explorers, problem solvers, dot connectors, continuous learners, and those not afraid to challenge the status quo.

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The Fourth Age


Byron Reese recently authored a book titled The Fourth Age. I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating look at history, and the focus on possible futures. In looking at the future, Mr. Reese explores the reasons that experts disagree on the path of these possible futures. He asks: why do Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates fear artificial intelligence (AI) and express concern that it may be a threat to humanity’s survival; and yet, why do an equally illustrious group, including Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Ng, and Pedro Domingos, find this viewpoint so far-fetched as to be hardly even worth a rebuttal? The answer as described by the author lies not in what we know – but what we individually belief. This theme throughout the book is an interesting piece of self-reflection. See how you would answer the questions posed by the author.

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The Strategic Foundation


In my last post, I explored the evolution of business in the industrial age. This Fourth Iteration of Business establishes resilience on a foundation of automation and intelligence. Resilience may be more important than the productivity gains that are sure to be realized as we progress towards Business 4.0, providing the capacity to recover quickly as the pace of shifts accelerates. This visual represents a strategic foundation for Business 4.0.

The Strategic Foundation

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The Automation of Everything


In a Post from 2014, I explored the path of automation and a possible economic impact between $14 and $30 trillion. Almost four years later, my focus has shifted from economic to societal impact. How far will we take automation? Will automation augment us, freeing us from mundane and redundant tasks, or will it replace us? Is automation limited to those characteristics we typically associate with our left brain – or will it encroach upon our right brain characteristics?

These questions currently have no answer – just speculation. How far the slider in the visual below goes, drives a profound difference in the ultimate implications to society. The obvious area of impact is the future of work – if we do indeed realize decentralized autonomous organizations. Do our right brain characteristics become much more important in this future world, and do they represent a safe haven? I show three very impactful examples in presentations that would have us question whether or not machines can be creative, compassionate, and eventual companions.

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Artificial Intelligence and Jobs


AI Intersects with RoboticsThis very good opinion piece addresses a subject that is gaining more attention and driving more dialog. Will artificial intelligence destroy jobs? Author Kai-Fu Lee has an opinion:

“It will soon be obvious that half of our job tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI and robots. This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced, and we’re not ready for it”

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