The real reason tech struggles with algorithmic bias — from wired.com by Yael Eisenstat

Excerpts:

ARE MACHINES RACIST? Are algorithms and artificial intelligence inherently prejudiced? Do Facebook, Google, and Twitter have political biases? Those answers are complicated.

But if the question is whether the tech industry doing enough to address these biases, the straightforward response is no.

Humans cannot wholly avoid bias, as countless studies and publications have shown. Insisting otherwise is an intellectually dishonest and lazy response to a very real problem.

In my six months at Facebook, where I was hired to be the head of global elections integrity ops in the company’s business integrity division, I participated in numerous discussions about the topic. I did not know anyone who intentionally wanted to incorporate bias into their work. But I also did not find anyone who actually knew what it meant to counter bias in any true and methodical way.

 

But the company has created its own sort of insular bubble in which its employees’ perception of the world is the product of a number of biases that are engrained within the Silicon Valley tech and innovation scene.

 

 

Gartner survey shows 37% of organizations have implemented AI in some form — from gartner.com
Despite talent shortages, the percentage of enterprises employing AI grew 270% over the past four years

Excerpt:

The number of enterprises implementing artificial intelligence (AI) grew 270 percent in the past four years and tripled in the past year, according to the Gartner, Inc. 2019 CIO Survey. Results showed that organizations across all industries use AI in a variety of applications, but struggle with acute talent shortages.

 

The deployment of AI has tripled in the past year — rising from 25 percent in 2018 to 37 percent today. The reasons for this big jump is that AI capabilities have matured significantly and thus enterprises are more willing to implement the technology. “We still remain far from general AI that can wholly take over complex tasks, but we have now entered the realm of AI-augmented work and decision science — what we call ‘augmented intelligence,’” Mr. Howard added.

 

Key Findings from the “2019 CIO Survey: CIOs Have Awoken to the Importance of AI”

  • The percentage of enterprises deploying artificial intelligence (AI) has tripled in the past year.
  • CIOs picked AI as the top game-changer technology.
  • Enterprises use AI in a wide variety of applications.
  • AI suffers from acute talent shortages.

 

 

From DSC:
In this posting, I discussed an idea for a new TV show — a program that would be both entertaining and educational. So I suppose that this posting is a Part II along those same lines. 

The program that came to my mind at that time was a program that would focus on significant topics and issues within American society — offered up in a debate/presentation style format.

I had envisioned that you could have different individuals, groups, or organizations discuss the pros and cons of an issue or topic. The show would provide contact information for helpful resources, groups, organizations, legislators, etc. These contacts would be for learning more about a subject or getting involved with finding a solution for that problem.

OR

…as I revist that idea today…perhaps the show could feature humans versus an artificial intelligence such as IBM’s Project Debater:

 

 

Project Debater is the first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. Project Debater digests massive texts, constructs a well-structured speech on a given topic, delivers it with clarity and purpose, and rebuts its opponent. Eventually, Project Debater will help people reason by providing compelling, evidence-based arguments and limiting the influence of emotion, bias, or ambiguity.

 

 

 

Robots as a platform: Are you ready? — from dzone.com by Donna Thomas
Robots as a platform are just about to change the world. What are you going to build?

Excerpt:

But unlike those other platforms, robots can independently interact with the physical environment, and that changes everything. As a robot skill developer, you are no longer limited to having your code push pixels around a phone screen.

Instead, your code can push around the phone* itself.

 

From DSC:
* Or a bomb.

Hmmm….it seems to me that this is another area where we need to slow down and first ask some questions about what we want our future to look/be like.  Plus, the legal side of the house needs to catch up as quickly as possible — for society’s benefit.

 

 

Digital transformation reality check: 10 trends — from enterprisersproject.com by Stephanie Overby
2019 is the year when CIOs scrutinize investments, work even more closely with the CEO, and look to AI to shape strategy. What other trends will prove key?

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

6. Technology convergence expands
Lines have already begun to blur between software development and IT operations thanks to the widespread adoption of DevOps. Meanwhile, IT and operational technology are also coming together in data-centric industries like manufacturing and logistics.

“A third convergence – that many are feeling but not yet articulating will have a profound impact on how CIOs structure and staff their organizations, design their architectures, build their budgets, and govern their operations – is the convergence of applications and infrastructure,” says Edwards. “In the digital age, it is nearly impossible to build a strategy for infrastructure that doesn’t include a substantial number of considerations for applications and vice versa.”

Most IT organizations still have heads of infrastructure and applications managing their own teams, but that may begin to change.

While most IT organizations still have heads of infrastructure and applications managing their own teams, that may begin to change as trends like software-defined infrastructure grow. “In 2019, CIOs will need to begin to grapple with the challenges to their operating models when the lines within the traditional IT tower blur and sometimes fade,” Edwards says.

 

 

Hey bot, what’s next in line in chatbot technology? — from blog.engati.com by Imtiaz Bellary

Excerpts:

Scenario 1: Are bots the new apps?
Scenario 2: Bot conversations that make sense
Scenario 3: Can bots increase employee throughput?
Scenario 4: Let voice take over!

 

Voice as an input medium is catching up with an increasing number of folks adopting Amazon Echo and other digital assistants for their daily chores. Can we expect bots to gauge your mood and provide personalised experience as compared to a standard response? In regulated scenarios, voice acts as an authentication mechanism for the bot to pursue actions. Voice as an input adds sophistication and ease to do tasks quickly, thereby increasing user experience.

 

 

AI Now Report 2018 | December 2018  — from ainowinstitute.org

Meredith Whittaker , AI Now Institute, New York University, Google Open Research
Kate Crawford , AI Now Institute, New York University, Microsoft Research
Roel Dobbe , AI Now Institute, New York University
Genevieve Fried , AI Now Institute, New York University
Elizabeth Kaziunas , AI Now Institute, New York University
Varoon Mathur , AI Now Institute, New York University
Sarah Myers West , AI Now Institute, New York University
Rashida Richardson , AI Now Institute, New York University
Jason Schultz , AI Now Institute, New York University School of Law
Oscar Schwartz , AI Now Institute, New York University

With research assistance from Alex Campolo and Gretchen Krueger (AI Now Institute, New York University)

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Building on our 2016 and 2017 reports, the AI Now 2018 Report contends with this central problem, and provides 10 practical recommendations that can help create accountability frameworks capable of governing these powerful technologies.

  1. Governments need to regulate AI by expanding the powers of sector-specific agencies to oversee, audit, and monitor these technologies by domain.
  2. Facial recognition and affect recognition need stringent regulation to protect the public interest.
  3. The AI industry urgently needs new approaches to governance. As this report demonstrates, internal governance structures at most technology companies are failing to ensure accountability for AI systems.
  4. AI companies should waive trade secrecy and other legal claims that stand in the way of accountability in the public sector.
  5. Technology companies should provide protections for conscientious objectors, employee organizing, and ethical whistleblowers.
  6.  Consumer protection agencies should apply “truth-in-advertising” laws to AI products and services.
  7. Technology companies must go beyond the “pipeline model” and commit to addressing the practices of exclusion and discrimination in their workplaces.
  8. Fairness, accountability, and transparency in AI require a detailed account of the “full stack supply chain.”
  9. More funding and support are needed for litigation, labor organizing, and community participation on AI accountability issues.
  10. University AI programs should expand beyond computer science and engineering disciplines. AI began as an interdisciplinary field, but over the decades has narrowed to become a technical discipline. With the increasing application of AI systems to social domains, it needs to expand its disciplinary orientation. That means centering forms of expertise from the social and humanistic disciplines. AI efforts that genuinely wish to address social implications cannot stay solely within computer science and engineering departments, where faculty and students are not trained to research the social world. Expanding the disciplinary orientation of AI research will ensure deeper attention to social contexts, and more focus on potential hazards when these systems are applied to human populations.

 

Also see:

After a Year of Tech Scandals, Our 10 Recommendations for AI — from medium.com by the AI Now Institute
Let’s begin with better regulation, protecting workers, and applying “truth in advertising” rules to AI

 

Also see:

Excerpt:

As we discussed, this technology brings important and even exciting societal benefits but also the potential for abuse. We noted the need for broader study and discussion of these issues. In the ensuing months, we’ve been pursuing these issues further, talking with technologists, companies, civil society groups, academics and public officials around the world. We’ve learned more and tested new ideas. Based on this work, we believe it’s important to move beyond study and discussion. The time for action has arrived.

We believe it’s important for governments in 2019 to start adopting laws to regulate this technology. The facial recognition genie, so to speak, is just emerging from the bottle. Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues. By that time, these challenges will be much more difficult to bottle back up.

In particular, we don’t believe that the world will be best served by a commercial race to the bottom, with tech companies forced to choose between social responsibility and market success. We believe that the only way to protect against this race to the bottom is to build a floor of responsibility that supports healthy market competition. And a solid floor requires that we ensure that this technology, and the organizations that develop and use it, are governed by the rule of law.

 

From DSC:
This is a major heads up to the American Bar Association (ABA), law schools, governments, legislatures around the country, the courts, the corporate world, as well as for colleges, universities, and community colleges. The pace of emerging technologies is much faster than society’s ability to deal with them! 

The ABA and law schools need to majorly pick up their pace — for the benefit of all within our society.

 

 

 

10 predictions for tech in 2019 — from enterprisersproject.com by Carla Rudder
IT leaders look at the road ahead and predict what’s next for containers, security, blockchain, and more

Excerpts:

We asked IT leaders and tech experts what they see on the horizon for the future of technology. We intentionally left the question open-ended, and as a result, the answers represent a broad range of what IT professionals may expect to face in the new year. Let’s dig in…

3. Security becomes must-have developer skill.
Developers who have job interviews next year will see a new question added to the usual list.

5. Ethics take center stage with tech talent
Robert Reeves, CTO and co-founder, Datical: “More companies (prompted by their employees) will become increasingly concerned about the ethics of their technology. Microsoft is raising concerns of the dangers of facial recognition technology; Google employees are very concerned about their AI products being used by the Department of Defense. The economy is good for tech right now and the job market is becoming tighter. Thus, I expect those companies to take their employees’ concerns very seriously. Of course, all bets are off when (not if) we dip into a recession. But, for 2019, be prepared for more employees of tech giants to raise ethical concerns and for those concerns to be taken seriously and addressed.”’

7. Customers expect instant satisfaction
All customers will be the customer of ‘now,’ with expectations of immediate and personalized service; single-click approval for loans, sales quotes on the spot, and deliveries in hours instead of days. The window of opportunity for customer satisfaction will keep closing and technology will evolve to keep pace. Real-time analytics will become faster and smarter as data that is external to the organization, such as social, news and weather, will be included for more insights. The move to the cloud will accelerate with the growing adoption of open-source vendors.”

 

From DSC:
Regarding #7 above…as the years progress, how do you suppose this type of environment where people expect instant satisfaction and personalized service will impact education/training?

 

 

 

Amazon’s new goal: Teach 10 million kids a year to code — from businessinsider.com by Joseph Pisani

Excerpt:

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon wants to get more kids thinking about becoming computer engineers.

The company launched a program Thursday that aims to teach more than 10 million students a year how to code. Amazon said it will pay for summer camps, teacher training and other initiatives to benefit kids and young adults from low-income families who might not have learned to code otherwise. It hopes the programs spur more black, Hispanic and female students to study computer science.

 

From DSC:
It will be interesting to see how artificial intelligence impacts the demand for programmers as the years progress. 

 

 

Microsoft to tackle AI skills shortage with two new training programs — from zdnet.com by Nick Heath
The tech giant reveals two new training programs to boost AI-related skills in business and in universities.

Excerpts:

The first of the two programs, Microsoft AI Academy, will run face-to-face and online training sessions for business and public-sector leaders, IT professionals, developers, and startups.

Microsoft is also funding a program to help train the next generation of data scientists and machine-learning engineers. Professor Chris Bishop, director of Microsoft’s Research Lab in Cambridge, said the Microsoft Research-Cambridge University Machine Learning Initiative is designed to address the stream of leading machine-learning researchers moving from universities to the private sector.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

In the 2030 and beyond world, employers will no longer be a separate entity from the education establishment. Pressures from both the supply and demand side are so large that employers and learners will end up, by default, co-designing new learning experiences, where all learning counts.

 

OBJECTIVES FOR CONVENINGS

  • Identify the skills everyone will need to navigate the changing relationship between machine intelligence and people over the next 10-12 years.
  • Develop implications for work, workers, students, working learners, employers, and policymakers.
  • Identify a preliminary set of actions that need to be taken now to best prepare for the changing work + learn ecosystem.

Three key questions guided the discussions:

  1. What are the LEAST and MOST essential skills needed for the future?
  2. Where and how will tomorrow’s workers and learners acquire the skills they really need?
  3. Who is accountable for making sure individuals can thrive in this new economy?

This report summarizes the experts’ views on what skills will likely be needed to navigate the work + learn ecosystem over the next 10–15 years—and their suggested steps for better serving the nation’s future needs.

 

In a new world of work, driven especially by AI, institutionally-sanctioned curricula could give way to AI-personalized learning. This would drastically change the nature of existing social contracts between employers and employees, teachers and students, and governments and citizens. Traditional social contracts would need to be renegotiated or revamped entirely. In the process, institutional assessment and evaluation could well shift from top-down to new bottom-up tools and processes for developing capacities, valuing skills, and managing performance through new kinds of reputation or accomplishment scores.

 

In October 2017, Chris Wanstrath, CEO of Github, the foremost code-sharing and social networking resource for programmers today, made a bold statement: “The future of coding is no coding at all.” He believes that the writing of code will be automated in the near future, leaving humans to focus on “higher-level strategy and design of software.” Many of the experts at the convenings agreed. Even creating the AI systems of tomorrow, they asserted, will likely require less human coding than is needed today, with graphic interfaces turning AI programming into a drag-and-drop operation.

Digital fluency does not mean knowing coding languages. Experts at both convenings contended that effectively “befriending the machine” will be less about teaching people to code and more about being able to empathize with AIs and machines, understanding how they “see the world” and “think” and “make decisions.” Machines will create languages to talk to one another.

Here’s a list of many skills the experts do not expect to see much of—if at all—in the future:

  • Coding. Systems will be self-programming.
  • Building AI systems. Graphic interfaces will turn AI programming into drag-and-drop operations.
  • Calendaring, scheduling, and organizing. There won’t be need for email triage.
  • Planning and even decision-making. AI assistants will pick this up.
  • Creating more personalized curricula. Learners may design more of their own personalized learning adventure.
  • Writing and reviewing resumes. Digital portfolios, personal branding, and performance reputation will replace resumes.
  • Language translation and localization. This will happen in real time using translator apps.
  • Legal research and writing. Many of our legal systems will be automated.
  • Validation skills. Machines will check people’s work to validate their skills.
  • Driving. Driverless vehicles will replace the need to learn how to drive.

Here’s a list of the most essential skills needed for the future:

  • Quantitative and algorithmic thinking.  
  • Managing reputation.  
  • Storytelling and interpretive skills.  
  • First principles thinking.  
  • Communicating with machines as machines.  
  • Augmenting high-skilled physical tasks with AI.
  • Optimization and debugging frame of mind.
  • Creativity and growth mindset.
  • Adaptability.
  • Emotional intelligence.
  • Truth seeking.
  • Cybersecurity.

 

The rise of machine intelligence is just one of the many powerful social, technological, economic, environmental, and political forces that are rapidly and disruptively changing the way everyone will work and learn in the future. Because this largely tech-driven force is so interconnected with other drivers of change, it is nearly impossible to understand the impact of intelligent agents on how we will work and learn without also imagining the ways in which these new tools will reshape how we live.

 

 

 

The coming revolution in software development — from forbes.com by Matt Bornstein

Excerpt:

Amid the deep learning hype, though, many observers miss the biggest reason to be optimistic about its future: deep learning requires coders to write very little actual code. Rather than relying on preset rules or if-then statements, a deep learning system writes rules automatically based on past examples. A software developer only has to create a “rough skeleton,” to paraphrase Andrej Karpathy from Tesla, then let the computers do the rest.

In this new world, developers no longer need to design a unique algorithm for each problem. Most work focuses, instead, on generating datasets that reflect desired behavior and managing the training process. Pete Warden from Google’s TensorFlow team pointed this outas far back as 2014: “I used to be a coder,” he wrote. “Now I teach computers to write their own programs.”

Again: the programming model driving the most important advances in software today does not require a significant amount of actual programming.

What does this mean for the future of software development?

 

 

 

Skype chats are coming to Alexa devices — from engadget.com by Richard Lawlor
Voice controlled internet calls to or from any device with Amazon’s system in it.

Excerpt:

Aside from all of the Alexa-connected hardware, there’s one more big development coming for Amazon’s technology: integration with Skype. Microsoft and Amazon said that voice and video calls via the service will come to Alexa devices (including Microsoft’s Xbox One) with calls that you can start and control just by voice.

 

 

Amazon Hardware Event 2018
From techcrunch.com

 

Echo HomePod? Amazon wants you to build your own — by Brian Heater
One of the bigger surprises at today’s big Amazon event was something the company didn’t announce. After a couple of years of speculation that the company was working on its own version of the Home…

 

 

The long list of new Alexa devices Amazon announced at its hardware event — by Everyone’s favorite trillion-dollar retailer hosted a private event today where they continued to…

 

Amazon introduces APL, a new design language for building Alexa skills for devices with screensAlong with the launch of the all-new Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device with a screen, Amazon also introduced a new design language for developers who want to build voice skills that include multimedia…

Excerpt:

Called Alexa Presentation Language, or APL, developers will be able to build voice-based apps that also include things like images, graphics, slideshows and video, and easily customize them for different device types – including not only the Echo Show, but other Alexa-enabled devices like Fire TV, Fire Tablet, and the small screen of the Alexa alarm clock, the Echo Spot.

 

From DSC:
This is a great move by Amazon — as NLP and our voices become increasingly important in how we “drive” and utilize our computing devices.

 

 

Amazon launches an Echo Wall Clock, because Alexa is gonna be everywhere — by Sarah Perez

 

 

Amazon’s new Echo lineup targets Google, Apple and Sonos — from engadget.com by Nicole Lee
Alexa, dominate the industry.

The business plan from here is clear: Companies pay a premium to be activated when users pose questions related to their products and services. “How do you cook an egg?” could pull up a Food Network tutorial; “How far is Morocco?” could enable the Expedia app.
Also see how Alexa might be a key piece of smart classrooms in the future:
 

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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