These news anchors are professional and efficient. They’re also not human. — from washingtonpost.com by Taylor Telford

Excerpt:

The new anchors at China’s state-run news agency have perfect hair and no pulse.

Xinhua News just unveiled what it is calling the world’s first news anchors powered by artificial intelligence, at the World Internet Conference on Wednesday in China’s Zhejiang province. From the outside, they are almost indistinguishable from their human counterparts, crisp-suited and even-keeled. Although Xinhua says the anchors have the “voice, facial expressions and actions of a real person,” the robotic anchors relay whatever text is fed to them in stilted speech that sounds less human than Siri or Alexa.

 

From DSC:
The question is…is this what we want our future to look like? Personally, I don’t care to watch a robotic newscaster giving me the latest “death and dying report.” It comes off bad enough — callous enough — from human beings backed up by TV networks/stations that have agendas of their own; let alone from a robot run by AI.

 

 

Should self-driving cars have ethics? — from npr.org by Laurel Wamsley

Excerpt:

In the not-too-distant future, fully autonomous vehicles will drive our streets. These cars will need to make split-second decisions to avoid endangering human lives — both inside and outside of the vehicles.

To determine attitudes toward these decisions a group of researchers created a variation on the classic philosophical exercise known as “the Trolley problem.” They posed a series of moral dilemmas involving a self-driving car with brakes that suddenly give out…

 

 

 

Gartner: Immersive experiences among top tech trends for 2019 — from campustechnology.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

IT analyst firm Gartner has named its top 10 trends for 2019, and the “immersive user experience” is on the list, alongside blockchain, quantum computing and seven other drivers influencing how we interact with the world. The annual trend list covers breakout tech with broad impact and tech that could reach a tipping point in the near future.

 

 

 

MIT plans $1B computing college, AI research effort — from educationdive.com by James Paterson

Dive Brief (emphasis DSC):

  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is creating a College of Computing with the help of a $350 million gift from billionaire investor Stephen A. Schwarzman, who is the CEO and co-founder of the private equity firm Blackstone, in a move the university said is its “most significant reshaping” since 1950.
  • Featuring 50 new faculty positions and a new headquarters building, the $1 billion interdisciplinary initiative will bring together computer science, artificial intelligence (AI), data science and related programs across the institution. MIT will establish a new deanship for the college.
  • The new college…will explore and promote AI’s use in non-technology disciplines with a focus on ethical considerations, which are a growing concern as the technology becomes embedded in many fields.

 

Also see:

Alexa Sessions You Won’t Want to Miss at AWS re:Invent 2018 — from developer.amazon.com

Excerpts — with an eye towards where this might be leading in terms of learning spaces:

Alexa and AWS IoT — Voice is a natural interface to interact not just with the world around us, but also with physical assets and things, such as connected home devices, including lights, thermostats, or TVs. Learn how you can connect and control devices in your home using the AWS IoT platform and Alexa Skills Kit.

Connect Any Device to Alexa and Control Any Feature with the Updated Smart Home Skill API — Learn about the latest update to the Smart Home Skill API, featuring new capability interfaces you can use as building blocks to connect any device to Alexa, including those that fall outside of the traditional smart home categories of lighting, locks, thermostats, sensors, cameras, and audio/video gear. Start learning about how you can create a smarter home with Alexa.

Workshop: Build an Alexa Skill with Multiple Models — Learn how to build an Alexa skill that utilizes multiple interaction models and combines functionality into a single skill. Build an Alexa smart home skill from scratch that implements both custom interactions and smart home functionality within a single skill. Check out these resources to start learning:

 

An open letter to Microsoft and Google’s Partnership on AI — from wired.com by Gerd Leonhard
In a world where machines may have an IQ of 50,000, what will happen to the values and ethics that underpin privacy and free will?

Excerpt:

This open letter is my modest contribution to the unfolding of this new partnership. Data is the new oil – which now makes your companies the most powerful entities on the globe, way beyond oil companies and banks. The rise of ‘AI everywhere’ is certain to only accelerate this trend. Yet unlike the giants of the fossil-fuel era, there is little oversight on what exactly you can and will do with this new data-oil, and what rules you’ll need to follow once you have built that AI-in-the-sky. There appears to be very little public stewardship, while accepting responsibility for the consequences of your inventions is rather slow in surfacing.

 

In a world where machines may have an IQ of 50,000 and the Internet of Things may encompass 500 billion devices, what will happen with those important social contracts, values and ethics that underpin crucial issues such as privacy, anonymity and free will?

 

 

My book identifies what I call the “Megashifts”. They are changing society at warp speed, and your organisations are in the eye of the storm: digitization, mobilisation and screenification, automation, intelligisation, disintermediation, virtualisation and robotisation, to name the most prominent. Megashifts are not simply trends or paradigm shifts, they are complete game changers transforming multiple domains simultaneously.

 

 

If the question is no longer about if technology can do something, but why…who decides this?

Gerd Leonhard

 

 

From DSC:
Though this letter was written 2 years ago back in October of 2016, the messages, reflections, and questions that Gerd puts on the table are very much still relevant today.  The leaders of these powerful companies have enormous power — power to do good, or to do evil. Power to help or power to hurt. Power to be a positive force for societies throughout the globe and to help create dreams, or power to create dystopian societies while developing a future filled with nightmares. The state of the human heart is extremely key here — though many will hate me saying that. But it’s true. At the end of the day, we need to very much care about — and be extremely aware of — the characters and values of the leaders of these powerful companies. 

 

 

Also relevant/see:

Spray-on antennas will revolutionize the Internet of Things — from networkworld.com by Patrick Nelson
Researchers at Drexel University have developed a method to spray on antennas that outperform traditional metal antennas, opening the door to faster and easier IoT deployments.

 From DSC:
Again, it’s not too hard to imagine in this arena that technologies can be used for good or for ill.

 

 

Evaluating the impact of artificial intelligence on human rights — from today.law.harvard.edu by Carolyn Schmitt
Report from Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society provides new foundational framework for considering risks and benefits of AI on human rights

Excerpt:

From using artificial intelligence (AI) to determine credit scores to using AI to determine whether a defendant or criminal may offend again, AI-based tools are increasingly being used by people and organizations in positions of authority to make important, often life-altering decisions. But how do these instances impact human rights, such as the right to equality before the law, and the right to an education?

A new report from the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society (BKC) addresses this issue and weighs the positive and negative impacts of AI on human rights through six “use cases” of algorithmic decision-making systems, including criminal justice risk assessments and credit scores. Whereas many other reports and studies have focused on ethical issues of AI, the BKC report is one of the first efforts to analyze the impacts of AI through a human rights lens, and proposes a new framework for thinking about the impact of AI on human rights. The report was funded, in part, by the Digital Inclusion Lab at Global Affairs Canada.

“One of the things I liked a lot about this project and about a lot of the work we’re doing [in the Algorithms and Justice track of the Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative] is that it’s extremely current and tangible. There are a lot of far-off science fiction scenarios that we’re trying to think about, but there’s also stuff happening right now,” says Professor Christopher Bavitz, the WilmerHale Clinical Professor of Law, Managing Director of the Cyberlaw Clinic at BKC, and senior author on the report. Bavitz also leads the Algorithms and Justice track of the BKC project on the Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative, which developed this report.

 

 

Also see:

  • Morality in the Machines — from today.law.harvard.edu by Erick Trickey
    Researchers at Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society are collaborating with MIT scholars to study driverless cars, social media feeds, and criminal justice algorithms, to make sure openness and ethics inform artificial intelligence.

 

 

 

How AI could help solve some of society’s toughest problems — from technologyreview.com by Charlotte Jee
Machine learning and game theory help Carnegie Mellon assistant professor Fei Fang predict attacks and protect people.

Excerpt:

Fei Fang has saved lives. But she isn’t a lifeguard, medical doctor, or superhero. She’s an assistant professor at Carnegie Mellon University, specializing in artificial intelligence for societal challenges.

At MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference on Wednesday, Fang outlined recent work across academia that applies AI to protect critical national infrastructure, reduce homelessness, and even prevent suicides.

 

 

How AI can be a force for good — from science.sciencemag.org by Mariarosaria Taddeo & Luciano Floridi

Excerpts:

Invisibility and Influence
AI supports services, platforms, and devices that are ubiquitous and used on a daily basis. In 2017, the International Federation of Robotics suggested that by 2020, more than 1.7 million new AI-powered robots will be installed in factories worldwide. In the same year, the company Juniper Networks issued a report estimating that, by 2022, 55% of households worldwide will have a voice assistant, like Amazon Alexa.

As it matures and disseminates, AI blends into our lives, experiences, and environments and becomes an invisible facilitator that mediates our interactions in a convenient, barely noticeable way. While creating new opportunities, this invisible integration of AI into our environments poses further ethical issues. Some are domain-dependent. For example, trust and transparency are crucial when embedding AI solutions in homes, schools, or hospitals, whereas equality, fairness, and the protection of creativity and rights of employees are essential in the integration of AI in the workplace. But the integration of AI also poses another fundamental risk: the erosion of human self-determination due to the invisibility and influencing power of AI.

To deal with the risks posed by AI, it is imperative to identify the right set of fundamental ethical principles to inform the design, regulation, and use of AI and leverage it to benefit as well as respect individuals and societies. It is not an easy task, as ethical principles may vary depending on cultural contexts and the domain of analysis. This is a problem that the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems tackles with the aim of advancing public debate on the values and principles that should underpin ethical uses of AI.

 

 

Who’s to blame when a machine botches your surgery? — from qz.com by Robert Hart

Excerpt:

That’s all great, but even if an AI is amazing, it will still fail sometimes. When the mistake is caused by a machine or an algorithm instead of a human, who is to blame?

This is not an abstract discussion. Defining both ethical and legal responsibility in the world of medical care is vital for building patients’ trust in the profession and its standards. It’s also essential in determining how to compensate individuals who fall victim to medical errors, and ensuring high-quality care. “Liability is supposed to discourage people from doing things they shouldn’t do,” says Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami.

 

 

Google Cloud’s new AI chief is on a task force for AI military uses and believes we could monitor ‘pretty much the whole world’ with drones — from businessinsider.in by Greg Sandoval

Excerpt:

“We could afford if we wanted to, and if we needed, to be surveilling pretty much the whole word with autonomous drones of various kinds,” Moore said. “I’m not saying we’d want to do that, but there’s not a technology gap there where I think it’s actually too difficult to do. This is now practical.”

Google’s decision to hire Moore was greeted with displeasure by at least one former Googler who objected to Project Maven.

“It’s worrisome to note after the widespread internal dissent against Maven that Google would hire Andrew Moore,” said one former Google employee. “Googlers want less alignment with the military-industrial complex, not more. This hire is like a punch in the face to the over 4,000 Googlers who signed the Cancel Maven letter.”

 

 

Organizations Are Gearing Up for More Ethical and Responsible Use of Artificial Intelligence, Finds Study — from businesswire.com
Ninety-two percent of AI leaders train their technologists in ethics; 74 percent evaluate AI outcomes weekly, says report from SAS, Accenture Applied Intelligence, Intel, and Forbes Insights

Excerpt:

AI oversight is not optional

Despite popular messages suggesting AI operates independently of human intervention, the research shows that AI leaders recognize that oversight is not optional for these technologies. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of AI leaders reported careful oversight with at least weekly review or evaluation of outcomes (less successful AI adopters: 33 percent). Additionally, 43 percent of AI leaders shared that their organization has a process for augmenting or overriding results deemed questionable during review (less successful AI adopters: 28 percent).

 

 

 

Do robots have rights? Here’s what 10 people and 1 robot have to say — from createdigital.org.au
When it comes to the future of technology, nothing is straightforward, and that includes the array of ethical issues that engineers encounter through their work with robots and AI.

 

 

 

How AI could help solve some of society’s toughest problems — from MIT Tech Review by Charlotte Jee
Machine learning and game theory help Carnegie Mellon assistant professor Fei Fang predict attacks and protect people.

Excerpt:

At MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference, Fang outlined recent work across academia that applies AI to protect critical national infrastructure, reduce homelessness, and even prevent suicides.

 

 

Google Cloud’s new AI chief is on a task force for AI military uses and believes we could monitor ‘pretty much the whole world’ with drones — from businessinsider.in by Greg Sandoval

  • Andrew Moore, the new chief of Google Cloud AI, co-chairs a task force on AI and national security with deep defense sector ties.
  • Moore leads the task force with Robert Work, the man who reportedly helped to create Project Maven.
  • Moore has given various talks about the role of AI and defense, once noting that it was now possible to deploy drones capable of surveilling “pretty much the whole world.”
  • One former Googler told Business Insider that the hiring of Moore is a “punch in the face” to those employees.

 

 

How AI can be a force for good — from science.sciencemag.org

Excerpt:

The AI revolution is equally significant, and humanity must not make the same mistake again. It is imperative to address new questions about the nature of post-AI societies and the values that should underpin the design, regulation, and use of AI in these societies. This is why initiatives like the abovementioned AI4People and IEEE projects, the European Union (EU) strategy for AI, the EU Declaration of Cooperation on Artificial Intelligence, and the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society are so important (see the supplementary materials for suggested further reading). A coordinated effort by civil society, politics, business, and academia will help to identify and pursue the best strategies to make AI a force for good and unlock its potential to foster human flourishing while respecting human dignity.

 

 

Ethical regulation of the design and use of AI is a complex but necessary task. The alternative may lead to devaluation of individual rights and social values, rejection of AI-based innovation, and ultimately a missed opportunity to use AI to improve individual wellbeing and social welfare.

 

 

Robot wars — from ethicaljournalismnetwork.org by James Ball
How artificial intelligence will define the future of news

Excerpt:

There are two paths ahead in the future of journalism, and both of them are shaped by artificial intelligence.

The first is a future in which newsrooms and their reporters are robust: Thanks to the use of artificial intelligence, high-quality reporting has been enhanced. Not only do AI scripts manage the writing of simple day-to-day articles such as companies’ quarterly earnings updates, they also monitor and track masses of data for outliers, flagging these to human reporters to investigate.

Beyond business journalism, comprehensive sports stats AIs keep key figures in the hands of sports journalists, letting them focus on the games and the stories around them. The automated future has worked.

The alternative is very different. In this world, AI reporters have replaced their human counterparts and left accountability journalism hollowed out. Facing financial pressure, news organizations embraced AI to handle much of their day-to-day reporting, first for their financial and sports sections, then bringing in more advanced scripts capable of reshaping wire copy to suit their outlet’s political agenda. A few banner hires remain, but there is virtually no career path for those who would hope to replace them ? and stories that can’t be tackled by AI are generally missed.

 

 

Who’s to blame when a machine botches your surgery? — from qz.com by Robert Hart

Excerpt:

That’s all great, but even if an AI is amazing, it will still fail sometimes. When the mistake is caused by a machine or an algorithm instead of a human, who is to blame?

This is not an abstract discussion. Defining both ethical and legal responsibility in the world of medical care is vital for building patients’ trust in the profession and its standards. It’s also essential in determining how to compensate individuals who fall victim to medical errors, and ensuring high-quality care. “Liability is supposed to discourage people from doing things they shouldn’t do,” says Michael Froomkin, a law professor at the University of Miami.

 

 

Alibaba looks to arm hotels, cities with its AI technology — from zdnet.com by Eileen Yu
Chinese internet giant is touting the use of artificial intelligence technology to arm drivers with real-time data on road conditions as well as robots in the hospitality sector, where they can deliver meals and laundry to guests.

Excerpt:

Alibaba A.I. Labs’ general manager Chen Lijuan said the new robots aimed to “bridge the gap” between guest needs and their expected response time. Describing the robot as the next evolution towards smart hotels, Chen said it tapped AI technology to address painpoints in the hospitality sector, such as improving service efficiencies.

Alibaba is hoping the robot can ease hotels’ dependence on human labour by fulfilling a range of tasks, including delivering meals and taking the laundry to guests.

 

 

Accenture Introduces Ella and Ethan, AI Bots to Improve a Patient’s Health and Care Using the Accenture Intelligent Patient Platform — from marketwatch.com

Excerpt:

Accenture has enhanced the Accenture Intelligent Patient Platform with the addition of Ella and Ethan, two interactive virtual-assistant bots that use artificial intelligence (AI) to constantly learn and make intelligent recommendations for interactions between life sciences companies, patients, health care providers (HCPs) and caregivers. Designed to help improve a patient’s health and overall experience, the bots are part of Accenture’s Salesforce Fullforce Solutions powered by Salesforce Health Cloud and Einstein AI, as well as Amazon’s Alexa.

 

 

German firm’s 7 commandments for ethical AI — from france24.com

Excerpt:

FRANKFURT AM MAIN (AFP) –
German business software giant SAP published Tuesday an ethics code to govern its research into artificial intelligence (AI), aiming to prevent the technology infringing on people’s rights, displacing workers or inheriting biases from its human designers.

 

 

 

 

Luke 10:25-37 New International Version (NIV) — from biblegateway.com
The Parable of the Good Samaritan

25 On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

26 “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?”

27 He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

28 “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.”

29 But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

30 In reply Jesus said: “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, when he was attacked by robbers. They stripped him of his clothes, beat him and went away, leaving him half dead. 31 A priest happened to be going down the same road, and when he saw the man, he passed by on the other side. 32 So too, a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.33 But a Samaritan, as he traveled, came where the man was; and when he saw him, he took pity on him. 34 He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him. 35 The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’

36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”

37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

 

From DSC:
The Samaritan had to sacrifice something here — time and money come to mind, but also, as our pastor said the other day, the Samaritan took an enormous risk caring for this wounded man. The Samaritan himself could have been beaten up (or worse) back in that time.

 

 

 

Why emerging technology needs to retain a human element — from forbes.com by Samantha Radocchia
Technology opens up new, unforeseen issues. And humans are necessary for solving the problems automated services can’t.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

With technological advancements comes change. Rather than avoiding new technology for as long as possible, and then accepting the inevitable, people need to be actively thinking about how it will change us as individuals and as a society.

Take your phone for instance. The social media, gaming and news apps are built to keep you addicted so companies can collect data on you. They’re designed to be used constantly so you back for more the instant you feel the slightest twinge of boredom.

And yet, other apps—sometimes the same ones I just mentioned—allow you to instantly communicate with people around the world. Loved ones, colleagues, old friends—they’re all within reach now.

Make any technology decisions carefully, because their impact down the road may be tremendous.

This is part of the reason why there’s been a push lately for ethics to be a required part of any computer science or vocational training program. And it makes sense. If people want to create ethical systems, there’s a need to remember that actual humans are behind them. People make bad choices sometimes. They make mistakes. They aren’t perfect.

 

To ignore the human element in tech is to miss the larger point: Technology should be about empowering people to live their best lives, not making them fearful of the future.

 

 

 

 

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