Predictive, data-driven software is becoming ubiquitous, and as such our reliance upon it is steadily intensifying. The locus of knowledge is becoming external to us again for the first time since the onset of humanism in the 18th century, and we increasingly prefer the forecasts of artificially intelligent systems to our own experience or intuition.
Of all the arenas in which these predictions fascinate and compel our decision-making, perhaps the most prevalent are those that see algorithms foretell the behaviors of our fellow human beings. What they prefer, what they react to, where they go, who they’ll flirt with, whether they’re likely pay back a loan, or even commit a crime.
Quite simply, we are coming to believe that machines know us better than we can know ourselves. Continue reading
The rise and rise of tech, and the popularity of shows like Altered Carbon, is placing the idea of augmented humanity front-and-center. So-called “body hacking” is already popular enough to have its own annual convention, and well-respected AI pioneers like Siri inventor Tom Gruber have been evangelizing about technology that can, and will, be used to help humans achieve superhuman levels of cognitive function. Giving a TED Talk last year, Gruber asked: Continue reading
YouTheData.com is delighted to feature a guest post by John Gray, the co-founder of MentionMapp Analytics.
Love them or can’t stand them, cats and memes have clawed their way into our cultures. Undoubtedly there’s a hieroglyphic cat meme etched on a wall somewhere in the historical ruins of Egypt. Believing otherwise, is to suggest that ancient peoples were humorless. Amusement, cats and memes aren’t new cultural considerations, just like today’s misinformation problem – popularized as “fake news” – isn’t either.
As William Faulkner said: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” We can’t escape the history of information and communication technologies, but we can choose to blithely ignore it’s evolution and the subsequent cultural, social, and political impact. Continue reading
Fraudsters typically line their pockets by forging our signatures, cloning our credit cards, and stealing our personal identities. Yet, we’d like to think that folks who know us personally – our family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances – would catch these counterfeiters out if they brazenly claimed to be us in public. After all, seeing is believing isn’t it? If you don’t look like me, you’re not me. If you do look like me, the chances are that you are me. Right?
Well…maybe. And this could soon become the subject of some confusion.
Well, imagine if stealing your identity could include stealing your image. And if scammers could then use that image to put words in your mouth and – in some cases – fake your very actions. This isn’t just some outlandish thought experiment, but a foreseeable hazard if we fail to prepare for a surge in the production of “deepfakes”. Continue reading
The Cottingley Fairies
As humans, we are accustomed to suspending our disbelief. Indeed, we’re known to indulge in it. Each time we dive into a book, a movie, a video game, a TV show – even a spiritual flight-of-fancy – most of us are willing and able to disengage from the pedantry of our everyday judgment, and allow ourselves to be convinced by things that are less-than-absolutely-convincing…
This coaxing is a consensual arrangement. I allow you to present me with the improbable on the proviso that it is entertaining, or educational, or uplifting, or philosophical – i.e. my pay-off is that I am emotionally stimulated in some way. I don’t need to scrutinize a movie in its every detail, what is important when I watch it is that I enjoy it and it makes me happy (or scared, or angry, or sentimental!). Continue reading
It’s difficult to read, or even talk about technology at the moment without that word “ethics” creeping in. How will AI products affect users down-the-line? Can algorithmic decisions factor in the good of society? How might we reduce the number of fatal road collisions? What tools can we employ to prevent or solve all crime?
Now, let’s just make it clear from the off: these are all entirely honorable motives, and their proponents should be lauded. But sometimes even the drive toward an admiral aim – the prevention bad consequences – can ignore critical tensions that have been vexing thinkers for years.
Even if we agree that the consequences of an act are of real import, there are still other human values that can – and should – compete with them when we’re assimilating the best course of action. Continue reading
Remember VHS? Or downloading music onto your iPod? If you do, the chances are it doesn’t seem too long ago – and that’s because it wasn’t. At least not in the scheme of things.
Think about it.
Our ancestors were stuck with pen and ink for a good long while before those clacky, qwerty typewriters came along. Similarly, it took millennia for us to eventually switch our stirrups for steering wheels (and, alas, lose those well-honed riding skills!). In more recent history, video did indeed kill the radio star, and smartphones killed-off just about every other mode of communication…
But technological evolution does not end here. As we speak, AI innovators are dreaming up new ways to automate the daily processes we currently take for granted. So, as we forge ahead into a new(ish) world of bots and blockchain, which fundamental parts of our lives will soon seem as charming as carrying a handkerchief…?
(And what kinds of opportunities might emerge?) Continue reading
Jenny Morris – a disabled feminist and scholar – has argued that the term “disability” shouldn’t refer directly to a person’s impairment. Rather, it should be used to identify someone who is disadvantaged by the disabling external factors of a world designed by and for those without disabilities.
Her examples: “My impairment is the fact I can’t walk; my disability is the fact that the bus company only purchases inaccessible buses” or “My impairment is the fact that I can’t speak; my disability is the fact that you won’t take the time and trouble to learn how to communicate with me.”
According to Morris, any denial of opportunity is not simply a result of bodily limitations. It is also down to the attitudinal, social, and environmental barriers facing disabled people. Continue reading
We’re delighted to feature a guest post from Grainne Faller and Louise Holden of the Magna Carta For Data initiative.
The project was established in 2014 by the Insight Centre for Data Analytics – one of the largest data research centres in Europe – as a statement of its commitment to ethical data research within its labs, and the broader global movement to embed ethics in data science research and development.
A self-driving car is hurtling towards a group of people in the middle of a narrow bridge. Should it drive on, and hit the group? Or should it drive off the bridge, avoiding the group of people but almost certainly killing its passenger? Now, what about if there are three people on the bridge but five people in the car? Can you – should you – design algorithms that will change the way the car reacts depending on these situations?
This is just one of millions of ethical issues faced by researchers of artificial intelligence and big data every hour of every day around the world. Continue reading
It might not be a question you’re asking yourself right now, but according to a California-based developer of artificially intelligent sex robots, they will be soon be as popular as porn.
This is, at least, the hope of Matt McMullen. He’s the founder of RealDoll, a “love doll” company featured in the documentary, “The Sex Robots Are Coming”. The film seeks to convince its audience that combining undeniably lifelike dolls like Matt’s with interactive, artificially intelligent features will lead to an explosion in the market for robotic lovers.
But is this okay? Many say that it absolutely isn’t. Continue reading