Adonis Diaries

Archive for September 23rd, 2017

Google launched an initiative to improve how users work with artificial intelligence

  • The research initiative will involve collaborations with people in multiple Google product groups, as well as professors from Harvard and MIT.
  • More informative explanations of recommendations could result from the research over time.
| Monday, 10 Jul 2017 | 12:00 PM ET

Google CEO Sundar Pichai speaks during Google I/O 2016 at Shoreline Amphitheatre

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

Alphabet on Monday said it has kicked off a new research initiative aimed at improving human interaction with artificial intelligence systems.

The People + AI Research (PAIR) program currently encompasses a dozen people who will collaborate with Googlers in various product groups — as well as outsiders like Harvard University professor Brendan Meade and Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Hal Abelson.

The research could eventually lead to refinements in the interfaces of the smarter components of some of the world’s most popular apps. And Google’s efforts here could inspire other companies to adjust their software, too.

“One of the things we’re going to be looking into is this notion of explanation — what might be a useful on-time, on-demand explanation about why a recommendation system did something it did,” Google Brain senior staff research scientist Fernanda Viegas told CNBC in an interview.

The PAIR program takes inspiration from the concept of design thinking, which highly prioritizes the needs of people who will use the products being developed.

While end users — such as YouTube’s 1.5 billion monthly users — can be the target of that, the research is also meant to improve the experience of working with AI systems for AI researchers, software engineers and domain experts as well, Google Brain senior staff research scientist Martin Wattenberg told CNBC.

The new initiative fits in well with Google’s increasing focus on AI.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has repeatedly said the world is transitioning from being mobile-first to AI-first, and the company has been taking many steps around that thesis.

Recently, for example, Google formed a venture capital group to invest in AI start-ups.

Meanwhile Amazon, Apple, Facebook and Microsoft have been active in AI in the past few years as well.

The company implemented a redesign for several of its apps in 2011 and in more recent years has been sprucing up many of its properties with its material design principles.

in 2016 John Maeda, then the design partner at Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, pointed out in his annual report on design in technology that Google had been perceived as improving the most in design.

What is new is that Googlers are trying to figure out how to improve design specifically for AI components. And that’s important because AI is used in a whole lot of places around Google apps, even if you might not always realize it.

Video recommendations in YouTube, translations in Google Translate, article suggestions in the Google mobile app and even Google search results are all enhanced with AI.

Note: with no specific examples to understand what Justin is talking about, consider this article as free propaganda to Google

Selling confusion

Over the last few decades, there’s been a consistent campaign to sow confusion around evolution, vaccines and climate change.

Confusion doesn’t need to be right to be confusing

In all three areas, we all have access to far more data, far more certainty and endless amounts of proof that the original theories have held up.

The data is more accurate than it’s ever been.

Evolution is the best way to explain and predict the origin and change of species. (Adaptation to nature?)

Vaccines are not the cause of autism and save millions of kids’ (and parents’) lives.

And the world is, in fact, getting dangerously warmer.

And yet…

Poll after poll in many parts of the world show that people are equivocating or outright denying all three.

Unlike the increasingly asymptotic consistency in scientific explanations, the deniers have an endless list of reasons for their confusion, many of which contradict each other.

Worth noting that this response doesn’t happen around things that are far more complicated or scientifically controversial (like gravity and dark matter). It’s the combination of visceral impact and tribal cohesion that drives the desire to deny.

Cigarette companies were among the original denialists (they claimed that cigarettes were unrelated to lung cancer, but that didn’t work out very well for them), and much of their confusion playbook is being used on these new topics..

To what end? Confusion might help some industries or causes in the short run, but where does it lead?

Working to turn facts into political issues doesn’t make them any less true. (Unless the power-to-be manages to sustain the false claims?)

If this growing cohort ‘wins’, what do they get?

In a post-science world, where physics and testable facts are always open to the layman’s opinion in the moment, how are things better? How does one develop a new antibiotic without an understanding of speciation and disease resistance?

I know what the science p.o.v. gets us if it prevails, if evolution is taught in schools, if vaccines become ever safer and widespread, if governments and corporations begin to ameliorate and prepare for worldwide weather change.

What’s a mystery is what the anti-science comfounders get if they prevail. What happens when we don’t raise the next generation of scientists, when vaccines become politically and economically untenable, when we close our eyes and simply rebuild houses on the floodplain again?

Gravity doesn’t care if you believe in it, neither does lung cancer.

Ask a confusor that the next time he offers a short term smoke screen. If this is a race to be the most uninformed, and the most passive, what if we win?


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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