I’m not worried about depressed robots. But I am worried about masses of people being depressed about robots. Or any other form of autonomous system, for that matter. How we use them, how we communicate and interact–and ultimately control them–is critical. IEEE, ever in the forefront of maintaining standard practices and ethical approaches to technology, is directly in the fray on this one, with its Initiative on Symbiotic Autonomous Systems. Roberto Saracco, a noted computer scientist and educator from Turin, Italy, is co-director of the initiative; he joins me for this episode of Seeking Delphi.™
Is privacy dead? The answer may be more indifferent than you suspect. Gray Scott says it’s becoming irrelevant. People and politicians may squawk, but if you look at their behavior, it looks as if they just don’t really care. It seems we’d rather have free content–even at the cost of privacy–than pay even nominal amounts to access online materials. In this wide ranging interview, conducted just hours before Mark Zuckerberg’s senate testimony in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica data breach, Gray provides us with his nuanced view of the state of privacy, both present and future.
For anyone who has watched the HBO series Westworld, the questions about creating machine consciousness run much deeper than “can we.” These include, should we? How will we treat it? How will it feel about its station as artificial life? Will we be able to control it, and is that ethical? And most profoundly, how will that change what it means to be human? The questions go beyond ethical to existential, and they were all addressed in the SXSW Intelligent Future track in a panel titled Can We Create Consciousness In A Machine? Not surprisingly, there were two techno-philosophers on the panel to explore these issues. They are David Chalmers, with NYU’s Center for Brain an Mind Consciousness, and Susan Schneider, with the Department of Cognitive Sciences at the University of Connecticut.
In this Seeking Delphi™ minicast, I speak with both of them about some of these issues. The third panelist mentioned in the podcast is Allen Institute physicist, Kristoff Koch.
YouTube slide show of Seeking Delphi™ SXSW 2018 minicast #2
The experts on the panel agreed…classical digital computers can’t create consciousness. Neural networks? Neuromorphic chips? And what about quantum computing? My interview with whurley on quantum computing, immediately following his SXSW keynote on the subject, is below.
SXSW minicast #3: whurley on quantum computing
In case you missed it, the YouTube slide show link for SXSW 2018 minicast #1, on covering sessions on quantum computing and self-driving car safety, is below.
As introduction to the podcast, some of this material is reprinted from a post earlier today. Scroll down for the audio file or links to access it on iTunes or PlayerFM.
“The promise of autonomous vehicles is great.”–Dan Lipinski
“My opinion is that it’s a bridge too far to go to fully autonomous vehicles.”–Elon Musk
Wait–what? The man who thinks he can send humans on a one way trip to colonize Mars within 10 years, thinks fully autonomous vehicles are out of our reach? The Elon Musk quote above is from 2013. I would be surprised if he still feels that way–but who knows?
Segue to this morning, at the Intelligent Future interactive track at SXSW 2018 in Austin, TX. Nobody on the panel entitled “Who takes the wheel on self-driving car safety” suggested we won’t get there. But there was plenty of caution on how, how fast, and how far we go in doing so.
Most notable were comments by Andrew Reimer of MIT. He foresaw a gap of 50-100 years before fully autonomous cars–no human intervention–take over the lion’s share of driving, globally. His issues were not just technical; they included trust, complexity, infrastructure and good old fashioned habit. He was certain that manual driving would probably never completely go away. He sighted the example of a high end sports car owners wanting the enjoyment of driving.
“It might just be hobbyists,” he said, but made it clear that in some shape or form, the human factor is likely to survive for a very long time.
A session on “Quantum Computing: Science Fiction to Science Fact,” was somewhat misnamed. While the history of its theoretical origins were recounted by D-Wave’s Bo Ewald, the session really focused on the current trends and developments leading toward a 10-year or so future horizon.
Bo Ewald talks about meeting Richard Feynman
Ewald recounted how iconic physicist Richard Feynman first imagined quantum computing in 1981, published the first paper on it in 1982, and gave a talk on it at Los Alamos in 1983. Ewald was head of computing at Los Alamos in 1983 and met Feynman at that talk. Sheldon Cooper, eat your heart out.
A sessiojn autonomous systems covered much of the same ground that was addressed in Seeking Delphi podcasts with Richard Yonck (#12) and John C. Havens (#17). last year. But one of the presenters, Liesl Yearsly of Akin, had an interesting means of illustrating how the material will affect us.
“If pregnancy were a book, they’d cut the last two chapters.”–Nora Ephron
It seems that every other person is wearing a fitness tracker these days. I am one of them. But wearable bio-medical devices aren’t just for normal activity. They are being developed, marketed, and used to monitor a variety of health conditions, seemingly for just about everything and everyone. Now–yes–even unborn babies have a wearable health monitor. Developed an marketed by San Francisco-based Bloomlife, it tracks a variety of parameters during the course of pregnancy. You might call it a fitness tracker for the unborn baby.
In this episode, Bloomlife CEO and co-founder, Eric Dy, talks about the origin and functions of their breakthrough device, where it and the market for wearable health trackers are going, and how he and his partner won a trip to Neckar Island–just one of three companies out of 1300 competing in a tech innovation contest–to present to Richard Branson
Links to relevant stories appear after the audio file and embedded YouTube video below. A reminder that Seeking Delphi is available on iTunes, PlayerFM, and has a channel on YouTube. You can also follow us onFacebook.
The Bloomlife tracker in action
Episode #15: A Fitness Tracker for The Unborn Baby
The marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation defines a robot as “Your Plastic Pal Who’s Fun to Be With.” The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy defines the marketing division of the Sirius Cybernetic Corporation as “a bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes.”–Douglas Adams, The Hitchhikers Guide to The Galaxy
Danger, Will Robinson!
The early images of robots were crude. There was Robby the Robot in the 1956 scifi classic Forbidden Planet.His cousin, Robot B-9, on the campy mid 1960’s TV series Lost In Space, made famous the the catchphrase “danger Will Robinson.” They look like cartoons to us today, compared, for example, to the chillingly lifelike Ava from 2015’s Ex Machina, or the robots so real in HBO’s Westworld, it’s hard to tell who’s a human and who’s an android. But how close are we to an invasion of robots of all kinds? Some of this week’s stories would have one believe we are on the cusp.
Artificial Intelligence–A research team at NEMEC in Belgium has created a neuromorphic chip that mimics the activity of human neurons to compose music. It does so by being exposed to various compositions and then copies the style. It’s more practical future uses lie in medical sensors and personal electronics that learn the health and behavior of its users.
Urban Futures–Architect and urban futurist Cindy Frewen joined me for Seeking Delphi™ podcast #13 in a discussion of the urban landscape of the future. Watch and listen to the YouTube slide show or subscribe via any of the links below it.