Are machines that learn for themselves the stuff of nightmares or a vision of a wonderful utopian future?
The answer, of course, is neither.
We all know that technology is neutral, even though we forget a lot of the time. But there is that niggling doubt. What if they broke through the barrier and became sentient and intelligent?
It’s possible, but probably a long way off.
Artificial Intelligence and robots are hot topics for Science Fiction at the moment and I’m one of those who believe we should use fiction to help us imagine the future so we can be better prepared for it. Good or bad.
The more of us that have a basic understanding of how the tech works the richer the debate about how it’s used will be, so I was pleased to find some fun stuff from Google that starts to demystify machine learning.
Here’s an AI experiment that tests a neural network to see if it can guess what you’re sketching.
I’m rubbish at drawing but it guessed 2 out of my 5 doodles and as the designers say, “The more you play with it, the more it will learn.”
Take a look – https://aiexperiments.withgoogle.com/quick-draw
I came across these two stories last week – there’s an algorithm that can detect deceit in your social media feed and Twitter has been telling people they don’t exist.
This led me to ponder what it would be like to be in charge of a social media company with a conscience.
Imagine you’re uncomfortable with providing a platform from which people tell lies that are stored for future generations as the accurate record of our social history.
If your algorithms can detect deceit and detect it more effectively than human beings – that’s the claim – then would you consider it your moral duty to find the lies and delete them all? Of course you’d have to trust the algorithms, and their creators, to not deceive you.
Would you delete everything that appeared to be a lie, no matter how big or small?
I wonder if Twitter is temporarily suspending accounts while it cleanses them.
Have you checked your social media history recently?
Maybe you should…
photo credit: 000109 via photopin (license)
Have you ever been in a supermarket queue with someone shouting in your general direction that there are plenty of empty self-service tills? I have. I was in one when I started to ponder what it might be like if the corporations governed us.
As I waited disobediently, I couldn’t help observe how the drive towards self-service affected the way the staff interacted with their customers. I understand the desire to reduce costs and that’s fair enough, so long as there’s a sufficiently level playing field for others to offer alternatives. Personally, I’d rather pay a little more and have some human contact, or even a little bit more than that and still have local independent shops.
Anyway, my thoughts meandered into the territory of the National Health Service. Would a similarly dehumanised health service be characterised by stressed and low paid staff shouting at queues of the sick? Shouts to cajole and point out that you can queue for an x-ray if you want, but there are plenty of self-service booths available and it’ll be a lot faster.
On the other hand, a loyalty scheme that gave the most frequent users the most reward points could be a winner.
Am I being unfair? Possibly.
Anyone for a self-service eye test or a do-it-yourself cancer diagnosis?