AI, diplomacy and a question of political philosophy
In an age where the traditional modes of diplomacy are open to question (see the empty desks at Trump’s state department), it’s not surprising that world powers are reconsidering their approach. The Times’s Beijing and Washington correspondents report that the Chinese Academy of Sciences is applying AI systems to assess risks to overseas investments. The systems are said to provide insight based on data from sources as diverse as satellite imagery and cocktail party chatter.
Didi Tang and Rhys Blakely’s article then leads, with the help of a Putin quote, into a discussion of the global competitiveness within AI as a transformative technology. It raises fears that the U.S. is at a disadvantage thanks to the lack of a coordinated government strategy akin to that of China. Could this be a test of economic philosophy and the efficacy of laissez-faire vs. collectivist systems in fostering innovation?
And speaking of global competition…
Thomas Macaulay at Techworld shared an interesting slideshow looking at how governments around the world plan to win in an AI arms race. It’s a neat reminder as we pat ourselves on the back for investment and innovation within the UK AI ecosystem, that this will be a highly competitive space globally. Slides 1 and 3 are where the rubber hits the road – UK’s strategy involves £1 billion in investment compared to China’s £113 billion. China has a population 20 times higher than that of the UK, but this investment differential is 113 times – that’s not great reading.
A sober and informed discourse
The Guardian’s U.S. edition shared an illuminating assessment of media hysteria surrounding AI and its negative impacts from freelance writer Oscar Schwartz. We’ve all heard this line before, but more interestingly Schwartz pivots to a bigger critique from Zachary Lipton, an assistant professor at the machine learning department at Carnegie Mellon University, that social media is responsible for a lot of charlatans that are cluttering the debate and puffing up the hype cycle. Lipton suggests in the article that what the public needs is thoughtful debate about the most pressing issues, not the side-shows. “There are policymakers earnestly having meetings to discuss the rights of robots when they should be talking about discrimination in algorithmic decision making. But this issue is terrestrial and sober, so not many people take an interest,” he says in Schwartz’s article.
News in Brief:
- Musk’s OpenAI creates hand with human-like or better dexterity, reports the Telegraph’s Joseph Archer. But can it bowl off-spin for England? https://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/2018/07/31/robot-breakthrough-elon-musks-ai-group-creates-human-like-hand/
- Daily Mail hits the clickbait jackpot with headline including keywords “Frightening”, “AI”, “Robots” and “Sex Factory” – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6013971/Nikki-Goldstein-visits-sex-robots-artificial-intelligence.html
- Headline of the week though, goes to the Scottish Sun for “Aye, Robot” – an article looking at potential job losses in Scotland – https://www.thescottishsun.co.uk/news/2993248/artificial-intelligence-scotland-workforce-robots-jobs/
- The Register hails an AI breakthrough for pedants, but closer reading suggests this application to be pretty limited – https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/08/02/ai_grammar_bot/
- DeepMind’s Shane Legg sets London teen summer homework, outlines basic requirements for entry-level AI job https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-45043406
- This week, separate researchers tried to prove that AI can successfully mimic the great art work of Shakespeare and Taylor Swift (though with varying degrees of success) – http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-6011435/Can-spot-real-Taylor-Swift-lyric-AI-learnt-write-lyrics-like-Bad-Blood-singer.html AND https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/computers-produce-poetry-by-the-meter-vk80077zl
Government kicks off Future of Mobility grand challenge
The Department for Transport and the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles kicked off the Future of Mobility challenge amidst the torpor of the summer recess. As well as publishing its call for evidence, the Government emphasised the possible benefits of autonomous vehicles in eradicating the need for city centre parking and freeing up more community space.
Women in Innovation
InnovateUK also called for entries for its Women in Innovation Awards on Wednesday. £400,000 is available in funding for eight female entrepreneurs, plus mentoring opportunities. Entries need to focus on one of the Government’s four Grand Challenges, including AI and data.
Upcoming AI Events:
- AI is Coming: An Introduction to AI Ethics (London) – Mon 6 Aug 2018, 18:00 – 20:30 BST https://www.meetup.com/AI-Ethics-London/events/253161546/
- Tech Commune: Blockchain, AI and Dapps (London) – Wed, August 8, 2018, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM BST https://www.eventbrite.com/e/bad-meet-blockchain-ai-dapps-a-thetechcommunecom-event-tickets-47638492012?aff=es2
- Development Plans For Implementing AI/AGI (Brighton) – Wed 8 Aug 2018, 18:00 to 21:30 BST https://www.meetup.com/MakeAIHappenBrighton/events/252606177/
- LawTech London: AI Without Boundaries (London) – Wed 8 Aug 2018, 18:00 – 21:00 BST https://www.meetup.com/LawTech-London/events/251951318/
- Designing AI-powered IoT Products (London) – Thu 9 August 2018, 18:30 – 21:30 BST https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/designing-ai-powered-iot-products-talks-by-rga-frog-design-and-swift-creatives-tickets-45447426476?aff=es2