What do we want? Evidence-based Research. When do we want it? After Peer Review
May 14th – ISSUE #15
NEWS FOR SMART DATA-DRIVEN AUGMENTED CREATIVE PEOPLE
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“The creative act, the defeat of habit by originality, overcomes everything.” George Louis
Other slogans included ‘Science not silence’, ‘Respect existence – or expect resistance’. ‘The oceans are rising and so are we’ was someone’s Earth Day message; LGBT activists were ‘Showing off the entire spectrum’. A philosopher carried a placard that said: ‘Reason’.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger reports that after decades of promise and hype, AI seems to have finally arrived, driven by the explosive growth of big data, inexpensive computing power and storage, and advanced algorithms like machine learning that enable us to analyze and extract insights from all that data. “The best way to assess the impact of radical technological change is to ask a fundamental question: How does the technology reduce costs? Only then can we really figure out how things might change.” Agrawal, Fans and Goldfarb provide an elegant answer to this question in their HBRarticle. “Machine intelligence is, in its essence, a prediction technology, so the economic shift will center around a drop in the cost of prediction.”
“Invariably,” wrote MIT Computer Scientist John Daugman, “the explanatory metaphors of a given era incorporate the devices and the spectacles of the day.” We describe everything as if it were technology. The metaphors we use to talk about brains and minds struck Daugman as especially susceptible. The technology that Greeks and Romans developed for pumping water underpinned their theories of the four humors and the pneumatic soul. Later, during the Enlightenment, clockwork mechanisms left their imprint on materialist arguments that man was only a sophisticated machine. “There is a tendency to rephrase every assertion about mind or brains in computational terms.” So herewith are this week’s two stupidest “computational neuroscientific” claims: 1) With Neuralink, Elon Musk Promises Human-to-Human Telepathy! Don’t Believe It. Why the billionaire is wrong that telepathy technology will be available in a few short years. 2) Damage to a specific part of the brain could result in religious fundamentalism (left nebulously undefined). Perhaps believing in “computer tomography” is a kind of religious fundamentalism.
But let’s take them at their word – despite experts’ skepticism, commercial companies such as No-Lie-FMRI and Government Works Inc. are marketing the use of FMRI- and EEG-based technology to ascertain truth and falsehood via brain recordings. Scientific American asks: Do We Have a Right to Mental Privacy and Cognitive Liberty? The rapid expansion of neuroimaging and related technologies suggests that we’d better answer that question, before we’re being told what we were and are thinking.
Meet the People Who Train the Robots (to Do Their Jobs). “Before the machines become smart enough to replace humans, as some people fear, they need to be taught. We spoke with five people — a travel agent, a robotics expert, an engineer, a customer-service representative and a scriptwriter, of sorts — who have been put in this remarkable position. More than most, they understand the strengths (and weaknesses) of artificial intelligence and how the technology is changing the nature of work”. Here are their stories.
SPACE10, IKEA’s external future living lab, are curious to learn how people feel about Artificial Intelligence. They have launched a worldwide survey called Do You Speak Human? — encouraging people to share how they would like their future AI to be. I wanted my future AI to be robotic, female, autonomous and challenging, and only used to improve experience when the data is anonymized. On every count, I am in a tiny minority of opinion.
“As data scientists, our job is to extract signal from noise.” Daniel Tunkelang.
Read this shocking article from the Washington Post on the absurd and brutal War on Drugs (No, notthose legal Big Pharma drugs; only these ones, the illegal drugs). We’ve reached the point where the government and police can penetrate rectums and vaginas, where judges can order forced catheterizations, and where police and medical personnel can perform scans, enemas and colonoscopies without the suspect’s consent. And these procedures aren’t to nab kingpins or cartels, but people who at worst are hiding a quantity of drugs that can fit into a body cavity. In most of these cases, they were suspected only of possession or ingestion. But these tactics aren’t about getting drugs off the street. You’ll have no trouble finding drugs or getting high in South Dakota, Texas, New Mexico, South Carolina, or any other state or city in the news for these searches. These tactics are instead about degrading and humiliating a class of people that politicians and law enforcement have deemed the enemy. I don’t think it’s funny at all – but it’s hard not to think of the real dangers of such Predictive Anal-ytics.
At its core, any predictive model or algorithm is a combination of data and a statistical process that seeks to identify patterns in the numbers. This can include looking at police data in hopes of learning about crime trends or recidivism. But a useful outcome depends not only on good mathematical analysis: It also needs good data. That’s where predictive policing often falls short. Here’s why big data analytics of police activity is inherently biased.
How about your children’s bedroom? In July, Mattel is releasing an internet-connected “digital nanny” called Aristotle. Aristotle is an Amazon Echo-type listening and talking device with a camera. In order to work, it collects and stores data about your child’s activity and interactions with it. Because Aristotle connects to other apps and online retailers, that data may be shared with those partner corporations, which may use that data for a wide variety of purposes—including targeting the marketing of other products to you or your young child. Aristotle is meant to live in your child’s bedroom from birth to adolescence, reading bedtime stories, projecting videos, and delivering content from an endless stream of partners selling books, music, games, and apps. Mattel says that the gadget and its voice are a “persona, and something that the child can become comfortable with and feel close to. “And if you ask Aristotle itself, it says that its “purpose in life is to help comfort, entertain, teach, and learn from you, as we grow together.” The excellent www. are running a petition to ask Mattel to put children’s privacy first.
If that makes you feel like taking a cold shower – here’s a wonderfully empowering website with the world’s largest collection of books, toys and movies for smart, confident, and courageous girls – http://www.amightygirl.com/ (“Strong is the new Pretty”). Share widely!
“Design, if it is to be ecologically responsible and socially responsive, must be revolutionary and radical.” Victor Papanek.
Google began thinking seriously about design when they had a group working on Maps, a group working on Search, and a group working on Gmail. If they were working in isolation from one another, those products were moving in different directions. Google co-founder Larry Page realized that they needed to be pulled together. And what pulls together disparate things? Design. Here’s an abbreviated history of design in Silicon Valley.
What Design Can Do: Spark Social Change. Four studios and projects reveal the challenges of visualizing an activist movement and the problems in need of creative solutions when design is invested in change.
Speaking of Augmented Reality, here’s what a high-speed car chase in , here’s a dazzling history of the movie’s ideas of science fiction interfaces, and PRINT’s annual list of design books released over the past year, as collected by PRINT Editor-in-Chief Zachary Petit. “Despite its disastrous reputation, this past year was an interesting year for design books, with a surprising quantity of reissues among those below. Whether you’re looking for reading material, inspiration for the coming year, or a gift for that creative person in your life, these books—listed in no particular order—are sure to enlighten and edify”. My favorite, “You are Here: NYC Mapping the Soul of the City”. Maps are magical. Every graphic, like every story, has a point of view, and New York is rife with mapmaking possibilities, thick with mythology, and glutted with history. You Are Here: NYC assembles some two hundred maps charting every inch and facet of the five boroughs, depicting New York’s of past and present.
How to Get into VR – This is the second edition of Paths, a news series from Y-Combinator outlining emerging technologies with clear steps on how to get started in each field. It’s an incredible collection of tutorials, resources, terms and other reference material for anyone looking to get involved in the industry.
I’ve said it repeatedly: a new technology like virtual reality doesn’t just need the technological infrastructure to make it work. It also needs a commercial infrastructure, particularly a profit-making business of creating VR content. An overview of the state of VR content creation – the Virtual Reality Content Business that Isn’t – concludes that Hollywood really doesn’t want to get left behind by virtual reality, but at the same time, there’s still no established business model. Meanwhile, hate to say I told you so, but Facebook just closed Oculus Studio. How long before they shutter the $3 billion investment altogether?
“I like to listen. I have learned a great deal from listening carefully. Most people never listen.” Ernest Hemingway.
It is, indeed, never too soon to disturb the ineffable confidence of overpaid blockheads in their perfect entitlement to a disproportionate share of the common wealth. Look at the worthless bureaucrats. There most certainly is such a thing as a free lunch. There is, in fact, a free banquet, of which every rich person daily partakes. It is long past time they invited the rest of us. George Scialabba at Commonweal in The Free Banquet: The Case for Universal Basic Income reviews Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy by economist Philippe van Parijs and political scientist Yannick Vanderborght.
Damon Linker at The Week isn’t so sure, writing in The Spiritual Ruin of a Universal Basic Income: “Most people simply aren’t equipped to lead lives of self-directed flourishing. In a world of widespread, permanent unemployment, we’d be far more likely to see throngs of people spending their days giving themselves over to obsessive video gaming, immersion in virtual-reality porn, and drug addiction, as they desperately grasp for a chemically induced substitution for the real-world fulfillment now placed permanently off limits to them. It would be a psychological and spiritual disaster. Much better than pushing for a UBI would be a concerted effort in favor of a New Deal-style government jobs program that would provide employment for those out of work”.
Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth – featuring a cameo from Chuck D from Public Enemy with his three-point plan which I committed to memory a long time ago: “1) Hit ‘Em Where It Hurts, 2) Tell It Like It Is, and 3) Let Everybody Know”.
Stevie Wonder – with his tribute to Bob Marley or his tribute to Duke Ellington – (“Music is a world within itself / With a language we all understand / With an equal opportunity / For all to sing, dance and clap their hands”).