Monday, October 10, 2016

AI Is Easy

Coinciding with Purdue's Dawn or Doom16 Conference last week was the appearance on my facebook page of this wry revision of Richard Scarry's Busytown (thanks Ned Stuckey - French). It was pertinent to the moment but also brought back a chain of memories. When my nephews Jerrod and Dan's outgrew their old multi -lingual 20th Century edition, they passed it on to my boys, Ben and Sam, who in turn sent it back to Jerrod's girls, Brittany & Kiyah, when the time was right for them to enjoy it!

Upon seeing the 21st Century spoof, my brother Bruce right away wanted to be the "rage pundit," and Gerry observed that there were some possible Dawn or Doom occupations listed here, such as "tech start - up executive" and "tech start - up P.R. disaster recovery specialist."

Garrison Keillor had a similarly good one the other day: "Platform Resource Imager." I guess that's a real thing. And here's a half - in - jest one from Dawn or Doom Keynote Speaker Dave Eggers: "Director of Ensuring the Future" (see "The Circle, p 3).

At the conference Eggers briefly discussed his novel (and upcoming movie) and then moved on to bleaker topics. He expressed concern that we don't embrace the future the way we once did, that we lack substantial forward - looking projects, such as NASA, the Race for Space, and even the Jetsons -- that inspired kids in the 1950s & 60s. Eggers recalled a time when the anticipation of Dawn seemed to outweigh the apprehension of Doom.

On the other hand, Keynote Speaker Marcus Shingles came down clearly on the side of Dawn with his vision of abundance for all: "The future is better than you think; we must strive for distribution of innovation" (in a subsequent session Bret Swanson drew similar conclusions).

Looking at both sides, guest speaker Mike Fong urged us to guard our personal information with vigilance. He described the prevalence of unmonitored information - gathering that takes place all the time (primarily through our cell phones), recording every step we take, every move we make, every thought we think, every turtleneck we purchase, and so forth.

While it's true that information, if misused, could lead to our Doom, it also carries the potential of Dawn. Fong's cautious optimism -- "We should be able to unite humanity in a common awe . . . but we just don't have all the information" -- brings to mind that great passage from James Morrow's novel, Only Begotten Daughter: "Science does have all the answers . . . we [just] don't have all the science" (90, 187).

As for Artificial Intelligence, Shingles entertained the audience with his quip that "AI is Easy, AV is Hard" (while making a last - minute switch in presentation topic and searching his laptop for the corresponding powerpoint). The previous day, Professor Jennifer Neville had explained that AI can be Easy (teaching computers how to play chess) or it can be Hard (teaching computers to have good manners, social skills, common decency). My personal observation: using my cellphone -- my own little piece of AI -- is convenient but not easy!

Random notes from The National Writers Panel:
"Reporting on Emerging Techologies"

Quentin Hardy:

"One person looking at a cell phone = five different stories, at least."

"Technology breakthroughs: something akin to magic has just occurred in our world."

"It's kind of big! Where do I stop?"

"Reporting on emerging technologies is really a task of covering delusional people, because if you knew the odds of your start - up failing / succeeding, you'd never get out of bed!"

Jared Parrish:

"A million problems that percolate up and result in a whiteness in journalism."

"There is a lack of diversity both in journalism itself and in industries being covered; both in the start - ups and on the reporting staff who cover start - ups."

"People want to be what they see."

Natalie Di Blasio:

"The day of journalism happens; then the evening of commentary descends on Earth."

Emily Dreyfuss:

It is important to cover all topics, not just topics of personal interest.

"Readers crave depth, difficulty of topic."

Additional Reading Suggestions

Amygdala vs Prefrontal Cortex

Marc Goodman: Future Crimes

Walter Kirn: "If You're Not Paranoid, You're Crazy," Atlantic, November 2015

Ray Kurzweil: The Singularity is Near

Language Quality Game (Thanks Karthik Kannan)

Linear Steps vs Exponential Steps

John Markoff: How Tech Giants Are Devising Real Ethics for Artificial Intelligence

Podcast: Lexicon Valley (Thanks Charlotte VanVactor)

Podcast: "Note To Self"

Pro Publica: Breaking the Black Box: When Machines Learn by Experimenting on Us (Thanks Marguerite ~ Chapman)

Someone mentioned an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie:
was it Total Recall?

TED Talk on Monkey Money

Apparently the data center at the heart of the
Carmike Coastal10 movieplex
is run by Invisible Zombies.
"Dawn or Doom," I ask?
Gerry McCartney answers: Actually Dawn in this case.
Diana Hancock replies: I think it is beautiful,
but suspiciously lacking in the human touch.

Previous Posts

Dawn of Doom



Dawn or Doom2

Dawn or Doom?

Safe Home

And More

A Dawn or Doom Valentine! ~ Really Thumb - Thing

Smart Beautiful City

Dawn or Doom Comes 'Round Once More

AI is Easy

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