Sure, AI can be creative, but it will never possess genius

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Sarah Bernhardt plays Hamlet, London 1899

“What’s Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba, 
That he should weep for her?” 

The close of Act II Scene ii, and Hamlet questions how the performers in a play about the siege of Troy are able to convey such emotion – feel such empathy – for the stranger queen of an ancient city. 

The construct here is complex. A play within a play, sparking a key moment of introspection, and ultimately self doubt. It is no coincidence that in this same work we find perhaps the earliest use of the term “my mind’s eye,” heralding a shift in theatrical focus from traditions of enacted disputes, lovers passions, and farce, to more a more nuanced kind of drama that issues from psychological turmoil.

Hamlet is generally considered to be a work of creative genius. For many laboring in the creative arts, works like this and those in its broader category serve as aspirational benchmarks. Indelible reminders of the brilliant outlands of human creativity. 

Now, for the first time in our history, humans have a rival in deliberate acts of aesthetic creation. In the midst of the avalanche of artificial intelligence hype comes a new promise – creative AI; here to relieve us of burdensome tasks including musical, literary, and artistic composition.  

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RE•WORK Interview with Fiona J McEvoy, YouTheData.com

This article was originally posted on the RE•WORK blogOriginal

The way people interact with technology is always evolving. Think about children today – give them a tablet or a smartphone and they have literally no problem in figuring out how to work it. Whilst this is a natural evolution of our relationships with new tech, as it becomes more and more ingrained in our lives it’s important to think about the ethical implications. This isn’t the first time I’ve spoken about ethics and AI – I”ve had guests on the Women in AI Podcast such as Cansu Canca from the AI Ethics Lab and Yasmin J. Erden from St Mary’s University amongst others join me to discuss this area, and I even wrote a white paper on the topic which is on RE•WORK’s digital content hub – so it’s something that’s really causing conversation at the moment. Fiona McEvoy, the founder of YouTheData.com, joined me on the podcast back in June to discuss the importance of collaboration in AI to ensure it’s ethically sound. Fiona will be joining us at the Deep Learning Summit in San Francisco this week, so in advance of this, I caught up with her to see what she’s been working on…

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Healthbots: the new caregivers

This article by Fiona J McEvoy (YouTheData.com) was originally posted on All Turtles.

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Movie tickets bought, travel booked, customer service problems resolved. Chatbots perform so many tasks that the best ones blend into the background of everyday transactions and are often overlooked. They’re being adopted seamlessly by one industry after the next, but their next widespread application poses unique challenges.

Now healthbots are poised to become the new frontline for triage, replacing human medical professionals as the first point of contact for the sick and the injured.

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Making AI in our own image is a mistake

This article by Fiona J McEvoy (YouTheData.com) was originally posted on All Turtles.

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When the Chinese news agency Xinhua demonstrated an AI anchorperson, the reaction of the internet was predictably voluble. Was this a gimmick or a sign of things to come? Could the Chinese government literally be turning to artificial puppets to control the editorial content of the country’s news channels? Are we careening towards a future where the humans and humanoid bots are indistinguishable?

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If internet trolls are cybercriminals, can AI stop them?

This article by Fiona J McEvoy (YouTheData.com) was originally posted on All Turtles.

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In May 2017, the WannaCry ransomware attack made international headlines. The breach (which was later linked to North Korea) used leaked NSA tools to target businesses that were running outdated Windows software. WannaCry wreaked havoc by encrypting user data and then demanding  Bitcoin ransom payments. Hackers gave victims 7 days to pay, threatening to delete the files of those who wouldn’t comply.

Though a “kill switch” was ultimately discovered, the attack affected over 200,000 business in 150 countries. It has been estimated that WannaCry caused hundreds of millions – and perhaps even billions – of dollars of damage.

Despite the alarm and headlines associated with it, the WannaCry attack was neither unique nor especially surprising. In today’s connected world we have almost become accustomed to these types of hostile acts. Yahoo. Equifax. Ashley Madison. The list goes on.  Technology has catalyzed big changes to our conception crime, and while the word still attaches itself to physical infringements like theft and assault, “crime” now captures a broad range of clandestine activities, including so-called cybercrimes.

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What AI can learn from nature

This article by Fiona J McEvoy (YouTheData.com) was originally posted on All Turtles.

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In designing his famous flying machine, Leonardo da Vinci took inspiration from bird flight. The inventor’s Codex on the Flight of Birds, details their behaviors and makes proposals for mechanical flight that would influence the development of the first modern airplane hundreds of years later.

Birds aren’t the only animals to influence scientific progress. For many years scientists have sought to unlock the extraordinary qualities of shark skin, which has huge advantages for both increasing speed and repelling germs. Recently, Walmart filed a patent for the creation of a swarm of robotic bees which they hope to use for the autonomous pollination of crop fields. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the humble original is perfectly designed for the task.

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Responsibility & AI: ‘We All Have A Role When It Comes To Shaping The Future’

This article was originally written for the RE•WORK guest blog. This week YouTheData.com founder, Fiona McEvoy, will speak on a panel at the San Francisco Summit

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The world is changing, and that change is being driven by new and emerging technologies. They are evolving the way we behave in our homes, work spaces, public places, vehicles, and with respect to our bodies, pastimes, and associates. All the time we are creating new dependencies, and placing increasing amounts of faith in the engineers, programmers and designers responsible for these systems and platforms.

As we slowly begin to delegate tasks that have until now been the sole purview of human judgment, there is understandable trepidation amongst some factions. Will creators build artificially intelligent machines that act in accordance with our core human values? Do they know what these moral imperatives are and when they are relevant? Are makers thoroughly stress-testing deep learning systems to ensure ethical decision-making? Are they trying to understand how AI can challenge key principles, like dignity and respect?

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The Negative Feedback Loop: Technology Needs To Know When It Gets Things Wrong

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Cathy O’Neil’s now infamous book, Weapons of Math Destruction, talks about the pernicious feedback loop that can result from contentious “predictive policing” AI. She warns that the models at the heart of this technology can sometimes reflect damaging historical biases learned from police records that are used as training data.

For example, it is perfectly possible for a neighborhood to have a higher number of recorded arrests due to past aggressive or racist policing policies, rather than a particularly high instance of crime. But the unthinking algorithm doesn’t recognize this untold story and will blindly forge ahead, predicting the future will mirror the past and recommending the deployment more police to these “hotspot” areas.

Naturally, the police then make more arrests on these sites, and the net result is that the algorithm receives data that makes its association to grow even stronger.

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The Problem with Next Generation Virtual Assistants

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It may not seem like it, but there is quite an arms race going on when it comes to interactive AI and virtual assistants. Every tech company wants their offering to be more intuitive…more human. Yet although they’re improving, voice activated tech like Alexa and Siri are still pretty clunky, and often underwhelming in their interactions.

This obviously isn’t great if developers want to see them entering the workplace in such a way as to supercharge sales.  Continue reading