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Posts Tagged ‘Artificial Intelligence’

On the phone, I ask Li if she imagines there could have been a way to develop AI differently, without, perhaps, the problems we’ve seen so far.  “I think it’s hard to imagine,” she says.  “Scientific advances and innovation come really through generations of tedious work, trial and error.  It took a while for us to recognize such bias.  I only woke up six years ago and realized ‘Oh my God, we’re entering a crisis.’ ”
On Capitol Hill, Li said, “As a scientist, I’m humbled by how nascent the science of AI is.  It is the science of only 60 years.  Compared to classic sciences that are making human life better every day — physics, chemistry, biology — there’s a long, long way to go for AI to realize its potential to help people.”  She added, “With proper guidance AI will make life better.  But without it, the technology stands to widen the wealth divide even further, make tech even more exclusive, and reinforce biases we’ve spent generations trying to overcome.”  This is the time, Li would have us believe, between an invention and its impact.
  —  Fei-Fei Li  (being quoted)
Quoted by: Jessi Hempel
From her article:  “The Human In The Machine
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, December 2018
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On This Day In:
2018 MAGA?
2017 Neutral
Family Over Ego
2016 Hard Learners
2015 Goals
2014 Switch To Dogs…
2013 Times Change
2012 Ashes Not Dust
2011 A Handful From Saudi
None Of This Happened
Take Responsibility

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Sometimes it is the people no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.
  —  Alan Turing
Codebreaker” (2011)  —  movie review
Codebreaker is a “docu-drama” about the life of Alan Turing, the famous mathematician who lead the team which developed the computer which broke the “Enigma” German code machine back in World War II.  Turing is played by Ed Stoppard.  The “drama” portion of this film is mostly from the journals of Dr. Franz Greenbaum, who was the psychiatrist Turing was forced to see for counseling. Dr. Greenbaum is played by Henry Goodman.
This film was made for TV and was aired in 2011 in the UK under the title: “Britian’s Greatest Codebreaker“.  The title was changed and the film had a limited theatrical release in the US in 2012, so you may find it noted with either year of release.
The documentary portion of the film is interspersed into the drama and features a series of interviews with relatives of both Turing and Greenbaum, a few of Turing’s colleagues / contemporaries and some otherwise famous folks from mathematics and the computer industry.
Of course the “psych” interviews delve into Turing’s childhood, schooling and his homosexuality.  The documentary interviews try to give a lay-person’s explanation of some of Turing’s main computer breakthroughs.  For those who don’t know, Turing is considered one of the creators of both digital computers / computing, and of artificial intelligence (AI).
Turing is reputed to have died from suicide by poisoning.  This film does nothing to explicitly contradict that conclusion, but it offers slim insights into the conspiracy theory that Turing might have been killed off by the British government in the interest of state secrecy.  In any case, some 50 years after the fact, Turing was given a full pardon for his “crime” (indecent acts) as well as a formal apology from the British government.
Final recommendation: Strong to highly recommended.  Although no where near the “movie” which followed in 2014 (see below) for production value or drama, this made for television movie was just as interesting and probably more informative.  If you are interested in computers, AI or the history surrounding WWII, I think you’ll enjoy this film.
The Imitation Game”  (2014)  —  movie review
This is my third or fourth time viewing this movie and my initial review can be found here.
This movie is based on the book / biography: “Alan Turing: The Enigma” written by Andrew Hodges.  The movie is a dramatized version of “basically” historical events with liberties taken for “drama”.  Benedict Cumberbatch stars as Alan Turing, (Alex Lawther plays a young Alan Turing), Keira Knightley plays Joan Clarke (the female / “love” interest), Allen Leech plays John Cairncross (a Russian agent / collegue of Turing on the project), Rory Kinnear plays Detective Robert Nock, Mark Strong plays Stewart Menzies (the MI6 super-spy), Matthew Goode plays Hugh Alexander (one of the brilliant collegues), Charles Dance plays Commander Denniston (Turing’s commanding officer at Bletchley Park ).  The basic premise is that a brilliant Turing invents a general purpose computer to defeat the Nazi coding machine “Enigma”, thus saving lives by helping to end the war faster.  Their work is performed at Bletchley Park.  Turing (and the team) are successful, but because it is all TopSecret, there is no record of his achievements until much later (several decades) and Turing has committed suicide in the meantime.
The movie (and presumably the book) is based on fact. Turing was a real person; he was brilliant, he did come up with this codebreaking machine.  Also, he was homosexual; he was subject to hormonal “treatment” to “cure” his desires; he did die in 1954.  Beyond that, there are a number of points which are probably better handled in the “Codebreaker” TV movie reviewed above.  To begin with, I don’t believe he was autistic (as is implied in this movie).  I gather he had a mild stutter, but nothing like what is implied in the movie.  He was homosexual, but he was not as closeted as the movie implies.  My understanding is while he was open about it with his friends and colleagues, he was not what would be described as “flaming”.  He was “in love” with Joan Clarke and did propose to her and later break off the engagement.  By “in love” I mean he cared for her deeply, although it appears the relationship was more than Platonic but less than physical.  At any rate, as portrayed in the film, Turing does tell her he is gay and she did appear to not care (in real life) about his sexual preferences.
There are also a number of other factual inconsistencies: the character Hugh Alexander did handle most of the supervisory / administrative duties for the team.  He was not “really” Turing’s supervisor and Turing was uninterested in those duties and most office (and real) politics.  The character John Cairncross may or may not have been a Russian agent.  In either case, he and Turing did not work together and I’ve read it’s unlikely they even met or knew each other.  Finally, Turing was not add odds with Commander Denniston, but it seems there was some issue with funding, a letter was sent to Churchill by the team and Turing’s name was on the letter, but it was from the whole of the team, not just from Turing.
Okay.  So after all that, was the movie any good and did I enjoy it?  Yes and very much so.  I admit I am a fan of both Cumberbatch and Knightley. I also quite like Mark Strong as I see him in more things (the “Kingsman” series is top of this list).  Because I spent a career in computing, I already knew of Turing and some of his accomplishments, so it was nice to see it dramatized and put up on a big screen film.  Final recommendation: (still) highly recommended.  I am a fan of the two leads, the specific (codebreaking / history) and general (computing / WWII) topics are also of personal interest, so I had a natural predisposition to enjoy this film.  But, beyond my personal interests (biases), I do think this was a good film / drama and worth the time of anyone who happens to view it.
For those wondering about the movie’s title…  Turing wrote a paper about computing and artificial intelligence which proposed that if a person sat in front of typing instrument (what we today would call a terminal or workstation) and could type in a series of sentences and questions to “someone” at another workstation using normal language and could not tell the responses came from a machine, then the machine, was in fact, intelligent.  This is the simplified version.  The more complete version had three participants: the human testing / judging, a human responding, and a computer responding.  In this case, the judge had to decide which responder was human and which was the machine.  In some variations, the judge isn’t advised one responder is a machine until after completing several question / response cycles.  Basically, the test was evolving to add a blind control situation: the judge didn’t know there was a test or what was being tested until after the cycles.  I found it interesting that the producers of the movie would try to educate the audience about this aspect of computing and AI even though it had little to do with the premise of the movie, that is, a long-suffering individual genius breaking the German code machine.
As an aside (and final note), the movie shows Turing out running cross-country several times.  What isn’t specified is that he was a world class distance runner who nearly qualified for the British Olympic team in the marathon.  Again, nothing earth shaking, but I found the detail interesting.
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On This Day In:
2018 Until Integrity, Decency, Wisdom, And Humility Return
Just Tell (And Re-tell) The Big Lie Often Enough On Fox News
2017 To Laws, Not Office Or Individuals
Beast / General / Civil
2016 Patronage
2015 For Blogs, Too!
2014 Righteous Anger
2013 An Irish Blessing
2012 But Is It Worth It?
2011 Let Us Start

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My daughter is a linguistics major (BA graduate) from Cal.  Last night we were discussing artificial intelligence and she stated she doubted she could work in the IT industry because she questioned the ethics of corporate America.
I asked: “Why?”
She said a co-worker approached her at her desk and asked her about a product she (the co-worker) was interested in buying.  My daughter said as an aside that this was nothing she had ever thought about, considered for her own purchase or searched on or about on the web.  However, the next time she picked up her iPhone (within one hour of the conversation), she began receiving Ad placements for the product they had been discussing.
I replied she must have left her Siri turned on.  She said, yes, but she had never actually said the name / product type herself.  Only the co-worker had done that.  She added, she was less concerned if it (Siri) had done the listening for her specific voice, but she didn’t approve of it listening in on others (not her voice), too.
I then reminded her that ALL security is an illusion and your confidence in the security is based on the amount of money you are willing to spend on maintaining the illusion.  (Which led to a completely different discussion…)  Of course, Siri / Apple, Google, Amazon and Microsoft are “listening” in and monitoring all of our searches and selling that information on to other corporations, who in turn convert our “hot leads” into sales offers – and they, of course, store our data and forward it on to other “affiliates”.  And so the cycle continues…  After all, it’s just good business.  Right?  And, if anyone else is listening in along with them, too?  Well, that’s just good government keeping us “safe”.  Right?
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On This Day In:
2018 Defining Characteristic
2017 Just Asking
2016 Still A Burden
15 And Counting
2015 All A Game
2014 Two Thoughts
2013 RIP – Dear Abby
Half-Life Problems
2012 To The Soul…
2011 Reverted!!

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As powerful as advanced AI might be someday, we need to understand it first and think carefully about how it should be applied.  The best thing we can do is make sure we have the best minds working on AI and support research that helps us develop it faster.  Again, it’s just math.  Not magic.
At a very basic level, I think AI is good and not something we should be afraid of.  We’re already seeing examples of how AI can unlock value and improve the world.  If we can choose hope over fear — and if we advance the fundamental science behind AI — then this is only the beginning.
    —  Mark Zuckerberg
Quoted by: Jason Tanz
In his article: “A To-Do List For The Tech Industry
Appearing in: Wired Magazine, dtd: November 2016
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On This Day In:
2016 Today’s Rule
2015 Remembering Oklahoma City
2014 Who Was That Masked Man?
2013 Enemy Mine
2012 Strengthen Me
2011 Service, Please
2010 The Church In Crisis…

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The implications of an unparsable machine language aren’t just philosophical.  For the past two decades, learning to code has been one of the surest routes to reliable employment — a fact not lost on all those parents enrolling their kids in after-school code academies.  But a world run by neurally networked deep-learning machines requires a different workforce.  Analysts have already started worrying about the impact of AI on the job market, as machines render old skills irrelevant.  Programmers might soon get a taste of what that feels like themselves.
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This explosion of indeterminacy has been a long time coming.  It’s not news that even simple algorithms can create unpredictable emergent behavior — an insight that goes back to chaos theory and random number generators.  Over the past few years, as networks have grown more intertwined and their functions more complex, code has come to seem more like an alien force, the ghosts in the machine ever more elusive and ungovernable.  Planes grounded for no reason.  Seemingly unpreventable flash crashes in the stock market.  Rolling blackouts.
These forces have led technologist Danny Hillis to declare the end of the age of Enlightenment, our centuries-long faith in logic, determinism, and control over nature.  Hillis says we’re shifting to what he calls the age of Entanglement.  “As our technological and institutional creations have become more complex, our relationship to them has changed,” he wrote in the Journal of Design and Science.  “Instead of being masters of our creations, we have learned to bargain with them, cajoling and guiding them in the general direction of our goals.  We have built our own jungle, and it has a life of its own.”  The rise of machine learning is the latest — and perhaps the last — step in this journey.
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To nerds of a certain bent, this all suggests a coming era in which we forfeit authority over our machines.  “One can imagine such technology outsmarting financial markets, out-inventing human researchers, out-manipulating human leaders, and developing weapons we cannot even understand,” wrote Stephen Hawking — sentiments echoed by Elon Musk and Bill Gates, among others.  “Whereas the short-term impact of AI depends on who controls it, the long-term impact depends on whether it can be controlled at all.”
  —  Jason Tanz
From his article: “The End Of Code
Appearing in the June 2016 issue of Wired Magazine
[Every 10 years or so we are cautioned about computers, the end of programming, Artificial Intelligence and “the end of code”.  And, as always, I am reminded of the quote: “The survival value of human intelligence has never been satisfactorily demonstrated.”   —  Michael Crichton from his book: “The Andromeda Strain”  I guess we may see, sooner rather than later.  —  KMAB]
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On This Day In:
2015 Okay, Maybe Not Ceaseless
2014 Can Do
2013 Are You Helping?
2012 Inside All Truth Is A Vacuum
2011 So, Whom Are We Trying To Fool Then?

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