Tag: AI

This week on JobMakers, Guest Host Jo Napolitano talks with Josh Feast, the CEO and Co-Founder of Cogito, a Boston-based software company that deploys Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help employers in a wide variety of industries improve their customer service call centers. Josh got his start creating innovative technology to improve case management for a social services agency in New Zealand, before coming to America on a Fulbright scholarship to earn an MBA at MIT Sloan. In this episode, they discuss the many applications of Artificial Intelligence, how it helps provide emotional intelligence to augment management practices at large organizations, and how to address some of the concerns about privacy and bias that have been raised around its use.

Guest:

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I heard a segment on the radio today about last night’s 60 Minute’s episode that featured space age medical technology being developed by the U.S. Military.  I had no idea that they had a massive research lab containing countless disease and virus samples going back hundreds of years, including the Spanish flu. They’ve taken blood […]

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What Is Your ESG Credit Score?

 

Major banks are rolling out a new platform and their lending practices will be driven by your ESG score. ESG stands for your Environmental, Social, and Governance. What, you ask, does that mean? What you buy and sell, what charities you support, and your environmental impact are being tracked and translated into a score. I don’t know who the scorekeepers are, but Glenn Beck’s guest had a friend who checked his Merrill Lynch account, and he was quickly educated.He had a low score of 4.7 and didn’t understand how they arrived at that number.

No, this isn’t China, this is now being implemented here in the US, and it will affect whether you qualify for a car loan, a home loan, a business loan, or if you are a good credit risk if you are applying for other things, like a job. Did you buy a gun for example, or give to a particular political party candidate, or do you purchase meat? What kind of car do you drive, and how often do you drive it? Not kidding – this will have an impact on your freedom in the new world that is unfolding. A story in Forbes from 2019 explains it.

Money lenders are grading you by this new system because they are now being graded by the new system. Every company will be graded on their hiring practices and how many minorities and even diverse genders are hired, what their social and environmental footprint is, and they must prove it, as their scorecard will impact their ability to do business in the new world system. Their ideology is also being incorporated into education. From the World Economic Forum’s “The Great Reset,” being implemented into every sector, corner, and cell of our lives, these are the new rules.

Join Jim and Greg for an all-crazy edition! They discuss additional evidence that Lin Wood cost Republicans the Senate, a New York Times columnist calling for a government “reality czar,” and Elon Musk working towards a brain chip to create “symbiosis between humans and artificial intelligence.”

Please visit our great sponsor:

Bryan Sharpe, known online as “Hotep Jesus,” and a tech entrepreneur, author and podcaster, joins Carol Roth to talk culture, entrepreneurship and technology. Carol uncovers Bryan’s entrepreneurship origin story from cologne spritzing to his current work in AI and blockchain endeavors. Bryan and Carol give some great advice on marketing and being a successful entrepreneur and explore the ethical implications of Artificial Intelligence. 

Plus, a “Now You Know” segment on W. E. B. Du Bois.

How AI Is Like That Other General Purpose Technology: Electricity

 

Do we live in a time of rapid, sweeping technological change or one of persistent, maddening stagnation? Even as politicians and pundits warn about robots stealing all the jobs, economic statistics show weak productivity growth. So perhaps a paradox similar to the 1980s when economist Robert Solow famously said, “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics.”

Then the 1990s happened and so did an information technology revolution and productivity boom, finally. One takeaway from that experience is that it can take considerable time to fully understand and harness new technologies so that measured productivity increases. And that’s not just the case with advanced tech such as incorporating artificial intelligence into a business. For example: The first barcode scan took place in the mid-1970s, but it took 30 years for organizations throughout the manufacturing-retail supply chain to make needed investments in “complementary technological, organisational, and process change,” as explained in “Upstream, Downstream: Diffusion and Impacts of the Universal Product Code” by Emek Basker and Timothy Simcoe.

Maybe the most well-known example is research from economic historian Paul David who found that it took decades for American factories to electrify and reorganize production after the shift to polyphase alternating current. And here’s a complementary finding in the new working paper “Does Electricity Drive Structural Transformation? Evidence from the United States” (bold by me):

How to Get the AI-powered Economy We Want

 

The American economy accelerated nicely in the middle of last year. A Two Percent Economy no more! Well, at least for a bit. Economic growth now seems to be reverting to the humdrum pace seen over most of the post-Financial Crisis recovery. (The Trump White House, it should be noted, sees things more optimistically.) The combo of slower labor force growth and productivity growth means the economy’s growth potential isn’t what it once was.

But maybe artificial intelligence can accelerate economic growth on a sustained basis by boosting productivity growth. In their 2018 paper, “AI and the Economy,” economists Jason Furman and Robert Seamans point out that many experts think “AI and other forms of advanced automation, including robots and sensors, can be thought of as a general purpose technology that enable lots of follow-on innovation that ultimately leads to productivity growth.”

How much more productivity growth? There are plenty of guesstimates. Maybe AI’s impact will be like that of robots, which one study found may have added 0.4 percentage points of annual GDP growth between 1993 and 2007 on average for 17 advanced economies. Or maybe AI will be far more consequential. A 2016 analysis by Accenture found AI could greatly benefit the US economy “increasing its annual growth rate from 2.6 percent to 4.6 percent by 2035, translating to an additional USD $8.3 trillion in gross value-added. Or maybe it will be somewhere in between. A 2014 paper by economists John Fernald of the San Francisco Federal Reserve and Charles Jones of Stanford’s business school noted that AI introduces “a fundamental uncertainty into the future of growth.”

Artificial Intelligence and the Brilliant Idiot

 

My phone buzzed while my watch thumped my wrist. I was in a meeting and so made a surreptitious glance at my wrist. My wife was calling and I declined the call, knowing that if it was urgent she would either leave a message or send me a text. The text came through a few minutes later, asking if I wanted to join her for lunch. I waited until the meeting had ended, and until I had taken care of other business that had piled up, before finally messaging her back about when I would be free. We had our lunch date, but as we were leaving I pulled out my phone to check on my work emails, and there on the lock screen was a “Siri Suggestion” that I return my wife’s call from an hour and half before. Siri is a brilliant idiot.  Brilliant enough to guess that I should probably call my wife back, then put that as a suggestion right on the lock screen, but idiotic enough to not know that the suggestion was unwelcome and unnecessary.

Over the last couple of iterations in Apple’s IOS (the operating system used in their mobile devices), Apple has layered in assorted habit-gathering machine-learning routines into Siri, its smooth-voiced “Digital Personal Assistant”. The latest iteration of IOS, version 12, has extended these habit-watching routines to the point where, by default, they constantly monitor what you do and where you do it, then attempt to build macros of commands to automate and guide those habits. The suggestion that I return the call to my wife was based on the phone having observed that I do usually return calls to my wife, but had not yet done so in this case.

This was just a small foretaste of what Siri could do, if I let it, but Apple explains its concept rather more thoroughly:

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Arthur C Clarke famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Likewise, any sufficiently advanced automation will be mistaken for life.  Recently, I watched Netflix’s Altered Carbon series, based on the science fiction novel by Richard K Morgan. The core premise is that the essence of humanity is intelligence or consciousness alone. Therefore, […]

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AI Will Not Usher In the Dystopias Hollywood Loves to Imagine

 

So much of the conversation about artificial intelligence is negative, with much of that negativity about the potential for job loss. (I see things differently.) So a new analysis from Obama White House economist Austan Goolsbee is a welcome change of pace.

In many ways, it is unfortunate that labor market policy has dominated our thinking about the AI economy. The main economic impact of AI is not about jobs or, at least, is about much more than just jobs. The main economic impact of these technologies will be how good they are. If the recent advances continue, AI has the potential to improve the quality of our products and our standard of living. If AI helps us diagnose medical problems better, improves our highway safety, gives us back hours of our day that were spent driving in traffic, or even just improves the quality of our selfies, these are direct consumer benefits. These raise our real incomes and the economic studies valuing the improvements from quality and from new products tend to show their value is often extremely high

That’s a different way of saying that if AI succeeds, it will raise our productivity and higher productivity makes us rich. It is not a negative. Indeed, if AI succeeded in the way some fear, it would mean the exact reversal of the main problem facing growth in the last decade or more that productivity growth has been too slow. Indeed, it would decisively refute one of the central tenets of secular stagnationist thinkers like [Northwestern University economist Robert] Gordon who argue that low productivity growth is a semi-permanent condition for the advanced economies because of the scarcity of path breaking ideas. Would that AI could change that equation.

AI and a Very Idealistic Description of Evil

 

Being interested in Artificial Intelligence, when I ran across this article in The Atlantic I was hoping to find something interesting. The article focuses on Judea Pearl, an AI researcher who pioneered Bayesian (calling Midget Faded Rattlesnake) networks for machine leaning. Pearl is disappointed that most AI research nowadays is centered around his previous bailiwick of machine learning (what he calls fancy curve fitting) and not around his new interest, which is around causal reasoning models.

This is all well and good and somewhat interesting, however near the end of the article he and the interviewer talk about free will and have the following exchange about evil.

AI is the Transformational Technology of Our Age … If Businesses Ever Adopt It

 

As I’ve blogged about at length in this space, the US economy won’t see sustained growth unless we can boost productivity. And there are a few different theories out there for why productivity growth has been so sluggish since the mid-2000s. Maybe ideas are becoming harder to find, maybe productivity has increased and we aren’t measuring it correctly, or maybe productivity growth is here but it’s just not evenly distributed yet.

If that last theory is correct, and there’s some reason to think it is (per a Commerce Department study, the digital sector has grown at an average annual rate of 5.6% over the last decade, compared to 1.5% overall), then the relevant question for policymakers is how to get these innovations to spread throughout the rest of the economy. That’s where the new McKinsey report “Notes from the AI Frontier” comes in. “Artificial intelligence (AI) stands out as a transformational technology of our digital age,” they write, and after studying 400 different use cases across 19 different industries, they estimate AI can “potentially enable the creation of between $3.5 trillion and $5.8 trillion in value annually” — if its use is broadly adopted.

What Will It Take for AI to Really Affect the US Economy? Patience, for Starters.

 

It’s been a bad stretch for techno-optimists, with new doubts being raised about our social media giants and the progress of autonomous driving. And of course there isn’t much sign yet in the broad economic data that we are on the verge of a new productivity and growth boom.

But researchers Erik Brynjolfsson, Daniel Rock, and Chad Syverson offer some good news in “Unpacking the AI-Productivity Paradox,” an article in the MIT Sloan Management Review. They think there’s good reason to believe artificial intelligence could be an important general-purpose technology like electricity and the internal combustion engine. Moreover, they find no “inherent inconsistency” between that optimism and the current statistical sluggishness, which some have labeled the “Great Stagnation.” In fact, BRS think they have a pretty good explanation for it:

It takes considerable time — more than is commonly appreciated — to sufficiently harness new technologies. There are numerous cases where we see a lag between tech achievements and economic impact. Retailers’ recent experience with e-commerce is a good example. The e-commerce excitement of the 1990s was prophetic, but it took nearly two decades — until 2017 — for online business models to approach 10% of total retail sales. The sector as a whole required the build-out of an entire distribution infrastructure. Customers had to be “retrained” to buy online. Organizational inertia held back innovation in business processes, supply chains, and product selection. None of the needed changes happened overnight, even though the potential of e-commerce to revolutionize retailing was widely recognized, and even hyped. The actual share of online commerce was a miniscule 0.2% of all retail sales in 1999. Only now are companies like Amazon.com Inc. having a first-order effect on more traditional retailers’ sales and stock market valuations.

Yes, AI Can Create More Jobs Than It Destroys

 

Sophia, a robot integrating the latest technologies and artificial intelligence developed by Hanson Robotics.

The Luddites and technophobes have a point. Machines do displace workers. Always have. From the cotton gin, machine tools, and punch cards to combine harvesters, industrial robots, and business software. And it is this “displacement effect” that leads to scary forecasts about AI and robots leading to mass technological unemployment and underemployment.

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Most of medicine is about information, not tools. Consider, for example, that getting the diagnosis right is the single most critical element in the vast majority of medical situations, which means that expertise, not toys are the critical piece. And enormous broadband capacity is making it possible to eliminate the gap between patient and expert […]

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Elite: Dangerous is a space simulation game in which players pilot ships to mine and trade, explore the galaxy, police smugglers and pirates, or become smugglers and pirates. It includes plenty of NPCs (Non-Playable Characters) operated by artificial intelligence to compete with players.  From Julian Benson at Kotaku UK:  Preview Open

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