So many mixed emotions on this bit of news. Place a device in your small apartment/home and let it monitor your health via electromagnetic disturbances, even through walls. 😨
On one hand, it’s really cool to think of the positive impacts this could have. Uncovering trends, monitoring habits, divorcing the data collection from the feebleness of human memory to put a device on or charge it. And then there are the home automation aspects that it could be adapted for. The truly immersive smart home hub. 💡
On the other hand, the surveillance possibilities and sketchy corporate uses from the benign health tracking are rather terrifying. I could see China undertaking a mass rollout of devices like these to augment their camera and digital tracking network. Just as I could see insurance companies requiring the use of these devices to issue policies, and using the data to “personalize” pricing in real time, and not to the benefit of the customer. 🙀
These are exciting and terrifying times. 🔮
Src: MIT Tech Review
Essential Products is working on a phone that is largely controlled by voice commands and has an AI built in that is supposed to become a digital version of you in order to respond to messages for you. 💬
I think this sort of functionality and interaction is a big part of the future, but why a phone? 🤔
Why try to execute a paradigm shift by working in a known form factor that pits you against Apple and Android. If Amazon and Facebook both failed to launch a phone, why should an interface-altering startup succeed? Why not a watch and/or earbuds? Why not a screen less device that acts as a phone add-on to start? While I applaud the message, I question the medium. ❓
Src: The Verge
Thinking in part informed by Ben Thompson at Stratechery.
fast.ai and AWS have teamed up to make some of the most popular deep learning datasets “available in a single place, using standard formats, on reliable and fast infrastructure.” Woo! 🙌
MNIST, CIFAR, IMDb, Wikitext, and more! Check ‘em out.
A lot of focus is placed on the US-China AI space race (guilty), but the nature of AI could make for a surprise victor. Or at least a leveling of the playing field. 🚜
There is a risk that the United States, like many leading powers in the past, could take an excessively cautious approach to the adoption of AI capabilities because it currently feels secure in its conventional military superiority.
I noticed an interesting note in the piece that arms regulations are, by and large, aren’t placed on useful defense technologies that are easily spread. Like tanks and jets (“easily spread” is relative in this case). Compared to nukes, which are heavily regulated but hard to manufacture anyway. 🏭
AI is not subject to the same manufacturing difficulties and provides far more useful. It is also difficult to draw a clear line between commercial and military uses. All of this creates a scenario that will be tough to regulate with nearly all governments incentivized to take a shot. Interesting times ahead. 🔮
Src: Foreign Policy
There is a lot of concern surrounding decisions made by algorithms and bias baked into said systems, but that is far from the only concern. These podcast episodes do a tremendous job illustrating what happens when people use neutral data for the wrong things. When the reason for the data becomes perverted. At the end of the day AI systems and algorithms are the products of humans, and we are far from perfect, logical, and rational. We’re still our own worst enemy. 👤
Src: The Crime Machine, Part 1
Src: The Crime Machine, Part 2
The Economist has announced they will be open sourcing their data, starting with the Big Mac Index. 🍔
It also sounds like they’ll be providing a glimpse into their process via Jupyter notebooks, which is really cool. 📓
Src: The Economist
A while back I wrote about how I didn’t think robots would become the new consumers in capitalism. Turns out I’m not the only one. 👬
This piece scratches my economics itch in a lot of ways, but I think the heart of it is the fact that we typically believe the economy/market/capitalism operates like a rational machine and not an organism reacting to the wants and desires of a collection of irrational flesh bags. 👥
But the threat is not real for the simple reason that the efficiency of production is not the problem that economy tries to solve. The actual problem is the use of scarce means to produce want satisfaction. Both means and ends are valued subjectively. Robots do not value.
This, once again, gets to the core of my AI belief system, that we shouldn’t try to recreate human brains in silicon or assume that AGI or superintelligence will mimic humanity’s actions and desires. It just seems like egoism disguised as science. ⚗️
I want to include two quotes pertaining to value that I really liked in this piece. I think they are often forgotten or misunderstood. 💱
The natural resource it the same, but the economic resource – the value of it – was born with the inventions. Indeed, oil became useful in engines, because those engines satisfy consumers’ wants. The value in oil is not its molecular structure, but how it is being used to satisfy wants.
A good, sold in a market, is not its physical appearance, but the service it provides consumers in their attempts to satisfy wants. In other words, a good provides use value. And value is always in the eyes of the user. The value of any means derives from its contribution to a valuable economic good.
For further reading that provides another angle on why I don’t think robots and AIs will just slip into the existing capitalism and perpetuate it check out this piece by Umair Haque.
Src: Mises Institute
In the continuing narrative that is the space race between the US and China in the realm of AI, we get an entry on what the US can learn from Chine. 🇺🇸🇨🇳
It boils down to the two countries excelling at the usual, the US creates visionary ideas and China puts them into production. China has a massive treasure trove of data, true survival of the fittest business environment, and highly involved (controlling) government. 🔬
China is also further along the tech adoption curve, just look at WhatsApp. It’s hard for tourists in some areas because locals rely so heavily on digital payment platforms. China’s approach has its drawbacks, but it’s hard to say the country isn’t more all-in on AI than any other. 💰
Ultimately, if the US is actually competing with China it needs to take an AI-first approach with buy in from all levels. And it needs to productionize ideas, not just produce them. ⚙️
Src: New York Times
There is a lot of focus on the China vs. USA space race happening in AI right now (at least in my world there is, I’m very interested in the topic). Most of it revolves around spending, governmental support, talent, etc. But maybe the most important aspect is what the implications of either country winning would be, if there truly can be only one winner in this field. 🏎️
China’s social scoring system, still in its infancy, is terrifying. Of course that is an opinion from a different way of live and cultural experience. But still, it has dystopian sci-fi future written all over it. 😈
A network of 220 million cameras outfitted with facial rec, body scanning, and geo tracking. And this insane info net will be paired with every citizen’s digital footprint. Everything is compiled to create a social credit score of sorts that is updated in real time and determines how easily you can interact with society and live your life. Piss the government off and become an outcast with no options. Dear China, Phillip K Dick called, he’d like his dystopia back. 📚
It’s no guarantee that this form of digital dictatorship will be exported on a mass scale (you know it’ll be exported at some scale) if China were to win the race, but it’s a chilling possibility. A lot of ink is spilled talking about the potential for a robot uprising and AI taking over, but the misuse of AI by human actors is far more relevant and just as fraught. We’ve been our own biggest enemy for centuries, why would that suddenly change now? 🤔
Src: ABC News Australia
I’m worried about the implications of transferring our biases to machines and then turning up the speed dial to 11. But I hadn’t thought about how we biased mortals might react to truly unbiased decision making. 🤯
So while creating unbiased systems is important, it doesn’t guarantee success in the messy real world once decisions are made. Ultimately debiasing systems might not matter if we don’t have the backbone to stick by unpopular results. (That’s not a dig at the Boston school system, this scenario was probably guaranteed to be a mess no matter what.) 💪
Src: Boston Globe