Good morning, my little cyborgs!
Welcome to the latest edition of the Sunday AI Review. Hope you’ve all had a great week and are enjoying a splendid weekend. I’m having a lovely, quiet, cosy time with Indie, writing, reading, drawing and walking dogs. Next weekend, it all changes, with my sister-in-law’s hen do set to steal any notion of rest and relaxation.
But for now, I’ll enjoy my cheese on toast and cup of tea, and get on with seeking out the news of the week in AI!
Top 5 Most Shared AI News This Week
This week saw the long-awaited opening of the first Amazon Go checkout-less grocery store in downtown Seattle. You scan a smartphone app-based QR code, walk in, and grab your supplies. When you’re done, you simply leave. Unless your ID needs checking for a bottle of wine or something, then you need not talk to another person at all. Infrared cameras on the ceiling and machine learning algorithms combined with computer vision work together to process your purchases, add it all up and charge it to your card. Easy peasy.
As to whether or not it will catch on, I am pretty positive that it will. It’s the logical progression from self-service checkouts, and the speed and ease of shopping it facilitates will be welcome with busy shoppers. Besides, Amazon may be the loudest voice shouting about checkout-less shopping, but it’s not the only retailer using the power of machine learning to elbow store clerks out of the way. Ocado is already using ML and robots in its grocery delivery service in the UK, and Moby Store in China has been doing the Amazon Go thing for a while now.
China, widely recognised as reigning monarchs of the AI race, faces a new challenger in the form of a bilateral agreement between India and Japan to develop robotics and AI for the defence sector. It’s not only a tech relationship, however, but a strategic political challenge against China’s “aggressive and expansionist” attitude.
The Indo-Pacific agreement between the two countries may also expand to incorporate the US and/or Australia into a multilateral agreement to bolster the nations against possible action by China seeking to assert dominance beyond its own borders. The unmanned ground-based vehicles and robots India and Japan are working on together exemplify the ways in which warfare is moving in precisely the direction that’s scaring the bejesus out of the scientific community.
As fears mount that AI is on its way to supplant human intelligence, HBR offers a handy list of ‘soft’ skills that you’ll need to cultivate to stand a chance of maintaining value as a leader in business. There are quite a few articles like this out there recently – how we need to work harder on personality than hard skills to survive in the increasingly automated workplace.
It’s always good, of course, to be on a quest for self-improvement, but I wonder if we are just discouraging people from growing their own intelligence on the assumption that AI can be clever for us. That does not seem particularly wise to me.
In one area of intelligence, at least, AI may stand a chance of doing a much better job than us. Whatever way you spin it, we are fucking up the planet. Whilst we continually work to develop a ‘human friendly’ AI future, we must simultaneously be looking at the ways that artificial intelligence can help alleviate some of the pressure we put on the environment.
Good news for all my fellow liberal arts grads! No longer must our kind be tarred and feathered for daring to follow our creative inclinations rather than pursuing a career in business! It seems that the future needs us.
To be fair, Steve Jobs said so as far back as 2011, but at the time Bill Gates disagreed, telling a panel of American governors that a liberal arts education would hold us back. Seven years later, Gates eats his words, as Brad Smith and Harry Shum declare (in their new book, The Future Computed):
“As computers behave more like humans, the social sciences and humanities will become even more important. Languages, art, history, economics, ethics, philosophy, psychology and human development courses can teach critical, philosophical and ethics-based skills that will be instrumental in the development and management of AI solutions.”.
One caveat, however. Don’t lean on your major alone; to prove Microsoft right, you ought to back up your knowledge with a sizeable understanding of tech stuff, like engineering, too.
Pick of the Week
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