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Humans · Economy · Technology

Artificial intelligence: Not new to controversy

October 05th, 2016
in:Humans, Economy, Technology
by:Israel Bionyi
located in:USA
tags:Artificial intelligence, big data, biodiversity, forensic, SMASH16

The idea about ‘thinking machines’ discussed in SMASH16 sparked interest and excitement, but also denial around the world.

Held in Boston, the 2016 Science and Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH16) celebrated the best works of science in media, highlighting the need to effectively communicate science and creating synergies between the scientific community and the media world.

Big science stories, trends in science media, insight around science topics relevant to food, evolution, astrophysics, biodiversity, forensic, big data, neuroscience and sound were discussed in panels.

A keynote by Joi Ito, director of MIT Media Lab on Tuesday, 20 September 2016, moderated by Paula Apsell, Senior Executive Producer at Public Broadcasting Service(PBS) discussed the potential of disruptive technologies in shaping the future of societies, including artificial intelligence and bitcoin.

Joi discussed two types of Artificial Intelligence(AI): artificial general intelligence (AGI), a machine system that could successfully perform any intellectual task a human being can and specialized AI, often called machine learning, which often manifests in self-driving cars, the algorithm on Facebook and Google and predictive policing.

“My focus is specialized learning, things like machines assisting judges determining bail and things like driverless cars,” Joi said. “AI or any kind of machine learning system isn’t programmed. What happens is that an algorithm is created and trained with data, much more like raising a kid.”

But do we need thinking machines or automated things that act like humans and control our lives?

In the streets of Boston, Uber drivers are absolutely terrified by the idea of driverless cars. Christopher Obazee, 35 from Nigeria makes $4,000 a week from Uber as a full timer. His colleague, Mohammed, 55 from Morocco, makes $60 a night as a part timer. Both Uber drivers panic they will not be able to break even and provide for their families both in the US and back in Africa if driverless cars take away their jobs.

“I have heard about AI before and the idea that we are going to have automated cars really scares me, because it is going to put many people out of jobs,” said Mohammed. However, Joi’s argument during the keynote focused more on the quality of work and safety. “If you spent enough money building a driverless car and you eliminate humans driving cars, it would be much safer,” Joi stated.

At the heart of the Netherlands in the city of Ede, social worker Annemieke Eshuis was exposed to Joi’s prospect of AI, with machines and robots playing the key roles of medical workers, like ‘huggable robots’ in hospitals and doctor ‘consulting robots’. “If you start putting robots around patients as doctors and social workers, I really feel we are going the wrong way,” said Eshuis.

“The purpose of life is to love and to be loved, to have intimate relationships. We need trust from two sides to build a relationship, a robot doesn’t have a heart, so you cannot have real communication with a robot. As a social worker, I see that people want to share their heart’s feelings. They want to sense that you are listening to them, they can feel that in their hearts if you really do.”

In the rural towns and villages of Cameroon, rural chiefs and natives reacted to the concept of AI. Nehemiah Yumoh, a Cameroon native from Bangolan who now resides in Germany, said this technology is out of place in the African context.

Just like many chiefs interviewed about this idea, he said he will fight it with his last bone because “the value and place of man will disappear,” he said. “Besides robots are strange to an African man and I think something like that is certainly not welcome in Bangolan.”

Joi also talked over a number of topics including synthetic biology, the possibility for biologists to create life from scratch, design into science and the Krebs cycle of creativity, white spaces in scientific disciplines and bitcoin technology. His talk essentially showcased unconventional, innovative and creative approaches to solving scientific problems.

His keynote certainly electrified and aroused curiosity among SMASH16 delegates in the room and people across the world who watched the session online via Facebook.

Article written by:
Israel Bionyi
Author
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Big science stories, trends in science media, insights around science topics relevant to food, evolution, astrophysics, biodiversity, forensic, big data, neuroscience and sound was discussed on the 2016 Science and Media Awards Summit in the Hub (SMASH16).
“AI or any kind of machine learning system isn’t programmed. What happens is that an algorithm is created and trained with data, much more like raising a kid.” Joi Ito said
But do we need thinking machines or automated things that act like humans and control our lives?

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