How do you become the Treasury Secretary of the largest economy on the planet and be that profoundly ignorant
March 28th – ISSUE #11
NEWS FOR SMART DATA-DRIVEN AUGMENTED CREATIVE PEOPLE
Hi Folks – Welcome to your latest dose of luxury reading for smart, data-driven, augmented, creative people.
As Always, Change the World! Brendan Harkin
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“Intelligence is really a kind of taste: a taste in ideas” Susan Sontag.
Companies are investing heaps of money to develop artificial-intelligence technologies that promise to transform industries as varied as transportation, finance and health care. That all adds up to big economic change, technologists warn. But for Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, the artificial intelligence revolution and its impact on the U.S. workforce is “not even on our radar screen.” In an interview with Axios, Mnuchin predicted the technology was still 50 to 100 years from displacing human jobs. “I’m not worried at all,” he said. “In fact, I’m optimistic.”
“Personally I’m dumbfounded,” said Amy Webb, futurist and author who runs the Future Today Institute. “If Mnuchin had done any previous reading or learning about #AI, he couldn’t have uttered those ridiculous words this morning. We cannot accept a “clarification” statement from Mnuchin or from Trump. What came out of his mouth this morning was raw, unfiltered, honest”
There’s a great anecdote about Henry Ford speaking with the head of the automotive union on the shop floor, and Ford says to him “Well, Sir, when we automate the entire process – who’s going to pay your union fees”, and he answers “Well Mr Ford when you do automate the entire process, who’s going to buy your cars?”
Mark Cuban says the world’s first trillionaire (as if we need one) will come from an AI entrepreneur. Nice little 46 second video: “Whatever you are studying right now if you are not getting up to speed on deep learning, neural networks, etc., you lose,” says Cuban. “We are going through the process where software will automate software, automation will automate automation.” He says if he was enrolling in university now he’d enrol as a Philosophy Major – I’ve always been ahead of my time 🙂
Brain Sciences, Robotics, Automation, Neural Networks, AI, Computation, are all weirdly informing and shaping each other, but they by no means complete the picture. We experience ourselves as conscious beings in a way that feels different to the rhythm of our heartbeat or the rumblings of our stomach. If the operations of the brain can be separated out and stratified, then perhaps we can construct something akin to just the top layer, and achieve human-like artificial intelligence (AI) while bypassing the messy flesh that characterises organic life. Here’s a great article that asks a more pointed way to pose the question: can we build it?
The amount of complete bullshit published in respected journals about “brain scans” is unreal (“Did you knowingly commit a crime brain scans“): this one carefully elides the difference between being “engaged in illicit activities” and “observing immoral activities”. As if that would produce the same “brain scan” (whatever that is). Are these people taught logic at all? Here’s the kicker: they weren’t even engaged in illicit activities at all – they were part of a controlled experiment and knew that nothing was real. WTF? Ray Kurzweil told me at www.aaai.org in SF last month that a 2% error rate in AI decision-making is “catastrophic“. Then read this clown from Science Mag explaining away a 5% error rate – and hedging, confidently, that “of the more than 40,000 fMRI studies that have been published to date, certainly not all will be affected” – certainly not all, so reassuring – and then this clanger: “not all [40,000 published papers] results are necessarily invalid but it would have to be decided for individual cases”. So who’s going to check, and who’s going to decide?
Last year, a Russian startup announced that it could scan the faces of people passing by Moscow’s thousands of CCTV cameras and pick out wanted criminals or missing persons. Unlike much face recognition technology — which runs stills from videos or photographs after the fact — NTechLab’s FindFace algorithm has achieved a feat that once only seemed possible in the science fictional universe of “Minority Report”: It can determine not just who someone is, but where they’ve been, where they’re going, and whether they have an outstanding warrant, immigration detainer, or unpaid traffic ticket. “The main concern is that we’re already pretty far along in terms of having this real-time technology, and we already have the cameras,” said Jake Laperruque, a fellow at the Constitution Project. “These cameras are small, hard to notice, and all over the place. That’s a pretty lethal combination for privacy unless we have reasonable rules on how they can be used together.” This imminent reality has led several civil liberties groups to call on police departments and legislators to implement clear policies on camera footage retention, biometrics, and privacy.
Even worse, Dan Geer is the chief information security officer for In-Q-Tel, a not-for-profit investment firm (what is a “not-for-profit investment firm”?) that works to invest in technology that supports the missions of the Central Intelligence Agency and the broader US intelligence community. He argues that the “trajectory of biometric capabilities is such that constructing prohibitory rules before something is possible has become wholly essential. Probabilistically, enumerating forbidden things must fail to anticipate some dangers hence the policy trade-off is whether to nevertheless attempt that enumeration or to switch over to enumerating permitted things. A free society being one where “that which is not forbidden is permitted” and an unfree society being one where “that which is not permitted is forbidden,” whether we can retain a free society by enumerating forbidden aspects (of biometrics) is now at question”. Translated: that which is not permitted is forbidden. And yes, we live in an unfree society.
The US Senate has voted to discard the broadband privacy rules that would have forced the ISPs to seek consumers’ permission before selling their personal and web browsing data. The Senate, with Republican Majority, voted 50-48 and made sure that FCC will be prevented from issuing similar rulings in future. Your ISP is spying on you and selling your privacy.
In the 21st century, Big Data algorithms could be used to manipulate people in unprecedented ways. Take future election races, for example: in the 2020 race, Facebook could theoretically determine not only who are the 32,578 swing voters in Pennsylvania, but also what you need to tell each of them to swing them in your favour. But there is also much to fear from abdicating all responsibility to market forces. The market has proven itself woefully inadequate in confronting climate change and global inequality, and is even less likely to self-regulate the explosive powers of bioengineering and artificial intelligence. Author Yuval Noah Harari takes aim at Mark Zukerberg’s faux messianism and dangerous power in the Financial Times.
Finally, something nice to say about Data – Sara Diamond from OCAD in Canada and her friends with a great manifesto: “We can describe data as one of the remarkable new materials of the 21st century – as important to our future as water. Data are measurements of other things: physical phenomena (such as weather patterns) or virtual phenomena (such as telecommunications packets). Every time we search for an online movie, view a video on our mobile device, tweet a comment about a news article, upload a photo to Instagram or are directed to a new location in Pokemon Go, we are producing and responding to data”. There’s no big data without intelligent design and interfaces.
AUGMENTED VIRTUAL INTERACTIVE EXPERIENCE DESIGN
“When they encounter works of art which show that using new media can lead to new experiences and to new consciousness, and expand our senses, our perception, our intelligence, our sensibility, then they will become interested in this music” Karlheinz Stockhausen.
Werner Herzog films were impossible to get your head around when he was making them – Fitzcarraldo – Aguirre, Wrath of God, a genius who just keeps going. In Fitzcarraldo, he actually drags a ship over a mountain (really) to bring European opera to South Americans – the height of Imperialist vanity and violence. Aguirre, Wrath of God is surely the inspiration for Apocalypse Now – the madman up the river.
Billy Corgan from Smashing Pumpkins is a great poet in my opinion – just these few poetic things from just this one beautiful song: We can learn so much from these few things, if we are listening: 1) Cool kids never have the time; 2) Double-cross the vacant and the bored; 3) We don’t even care / as restless as we are; and 4) Hang out with the freaks and the ghouls.