The time when computers know everything may not be as far-off as compared to decades ago when research around artificial intelligence commenced. With experts noting that AI is on the brink of passing the Turing Test and its ubiquity seen, felt and used everyday, the future is gleaming for the science of replicating how the human brain thinks.
Issues around this subject are still debatable and are favorite topics of politicians, moralists, scientists, and writers like me. In my previous article, I pointed out that the diversity of artificial intelligence, breaking out from the stereotypical scary human-like robots and becoming useful for medicine, aviation, and global economics, makes the AI idea more bearable to the heart—contrary to how movies depict AI to be, displacing us from our own planet. But while I still deal with my fear of androids, I cannot drift too much from the fact that AI will somehow be replacing human beings to do some jobs, if and when businesses realize cost-efficiency with machines. This “artificial intelligence economy” is promising, threatening and becoming a reality. In his blog discussing the U.S. economy and exportation, Tyler Cowen said things that hit home:
“First, artificial intelligence and computing power are the future, or even the present, for much of manufacturing. It’s not just the robots; look at the hundreds of computers and software-driven devices embedded in a new car. Factory floors these days are nearly empty of people because software-driven machines are doing most of the work. The factory has been reinvented as a quiet place. There is now a joke that “a modern textile mill employs only a man and a dog—the man to feed the dog, and the dog to keep the man away from the machines.”
“The next steps in the artificial intelligence revolution, as manifested most publicly through systems like Deep Blue, Watson and Siri, will revolutionize production in one sector after another. Computing power solves more problems each year, including manufacturing problems.”
The previous week was pretty much interesting for AI, with developments around industries and markets that I never initially imagined AI to be squeezed into really soon.
AI and Crowd Computing
The idea of crowdsourcing follows pooling a group of people to accomplish a single goal. It may relate to a variety of industries. Now, crowdsourcing teams up with AI to breathe into a new market called crowd computing, A New York startup, CrowdControl has created a blueprint for the next generation global labor. The company plans to take large complex jobs and splits these into tiny pieces, then sources the piecework out to millions of micro-task workers around the world.
The company’s founder, Max Yankelevich noted that “What we are doing is tapping into the world’s cognitive surplus,” he said, referencing a concept first laid out by digital intellectual Clay Shirky. “When you stop to think about the amount of brain power we have on demand, it’s kind of staggering. If we wanted to, with all the available excess on hand, we could recreate Wikipedia from scratch in a single day.”
The core of crowd computing tackled by Crowd Control is somewhat similar to what Amazon banked on few years back. Kit Dotson of SiliconANGLE discussed how businesses took advantage of Amazon Mechanical Turk in terms of editing reviews to increase traction and better position the products in the market. The core mechanism behind it is Find-Fix-Verify.
AI, Travel and Tourism
A supposedly joyful vacation may turn sour in a matter of moments. This is a prevalent scenario linked with delayed flights, deceiving restaurant reviews, wandering astray, and more. This is what Gogobot, a social travel recommendation app, would like to address as they hired one of the men behind the creation of SIRI, Osher Yadgar. The app now allows users to browse hotels, restaurants, and tourist destinations with recommendations sorted according to friends’ reviews and share photos via the “postcard” feature.
“What we are trying to do is take into account the magnitude of this information and look at it in a personalized way, and reason about you and your preferences and your social network, and build a trusting mechanism for advice,” Yadgar said.
Gogobot acts as a personal assistant type within the “expert systems”. These types of AIs are otherwise known as expert agents that work as little learning systems that filter what we see and gather by looking at a lot of information and sorting it to our preferences.
An interesting International Business Times report made mention of sex robots that will revolutionize prostitution and sex stores in the future. In a 2010 Las Vegas exposition, Douglas Hines unveiled the first sex robot named Roxxxy. This has titillated the minds of many and now has spurred new ideas around “sex tourism”. The benefits that supposedly humanity may draw out of this innovation include the halting of the spread of sexually transmitted diseases which has reached the red alert level globally, putting an end to human trafficking and underage prostitute trade while keeping revenues flowing for economies greatly influenced by sex tourism.
A futuristic scenario was presented by New Zealand-based educators, Ian Yeoman and Michelle Mars in their paper entitled Robots, Sex and Tourism:
“The Yub-Yum offers a range of sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicities, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features. All androids are made of bacteria resistant fibre and are flushed for human fluids, therefore guaranteeing no Sexual Transmitted Diseases are transferred between consumers,” the paper describes.
“The only social issues surrounding the club is the resistance from human sex workers who say they can’t compete on price and quality, therefore forcing many of them to close their shop windows. All in all, the regeneration of Amsterdam’s sex industry has been about the success of the new breed of sex worker. Even clients feel guilt free as they actually haven’t had sex with a real person and therefore don’t have to lie to their partner,” it adds.
The concepts in the paper lay new set of subjects on the debating table.
AI and Reality Shows
No, we are not talking about AI as in American Idol. But, this is pretty much related to the concept around the U.S. reality show. Dr. Nick Collins from the University of Sussex embarks on a research to discover whether The Voice, X-Factor and American Idol judges could be replaced with machines via artificial intelligence, according to BBC.
It takes eight hours to train the judges. “I can’t anticipate how they will turn out,” says Dr Collins. “They are definitely independent entities now, and have their own biases.”
“The judges’ listening capacity is not yet on a par with a human ear, but this is an attempt to respect some of the ways that human hearing operates.”
“They’re never going to be as annoying as Simon Cowell,” he says.
For this one, I may have to argue that AI can lower the cost drastically, especially with celebrities being paid multi-million per season. But, would talents be enticed to be judged by machines? Would they want to be mentored by programmed software? The Simon Cowell bashing of contestants, the thrill of who will be eliminated next or will the judges turn their chairs around for this aspiring singer are what keep people glued to their television with so much anticipation. The critique that goes with raising an eyebrow and aggravating the crowd’s emotion is what makes these types of television shows exciting. It is not only about judging the best talent, it is also about the drama and the “human” emotions and elements involved that magnetize the audience and make it a “reality” show.