Artificial Intelligence Is Powerful—And Misunderstood. Here’s How We Can Protect Workers

In 2015, a man named Nigel Richards won the title of French-­language Scrabble World Champion. This was especially noteworthy because Richards does not speak French. What the New Zealander had done was memorize each of the 386,000 words in the entire French Scrabble dictionary, in the space of just nine weeks.

Richards’ impressive feat is a useful metaphor for how artificial intelligence works—real AI, not the paranoid fantasies that some self-­appointed “futurists” like to warn us about. Just as Richards committed vast troves of words to memory in order to master the domain of the Scrabble board, state-of-the-art AI—or deep ­learning—takes in massive amounts of data from a single domain and automatically learns from the data to make specific decisions within that domain. Deep learning can automatically optimize human-given goals—called ­“objective ­functions”—with unlimited memory and superhuman accuracy.

While limited in scope, deep learning is usable by everyone and powerful within a certain domain. It can help ­Amazon maximize profit from recommendations or Facebook maximize minutes spent by users in its app, just as it can help banks minimize loan-­default rates or an airport camera determine if a terrorist has queued up for boarding.

The potential applications for AI are extremely exciting. Autonomous vehicles, for example, will dramatically reduce cost and improve safety and efficiency. But the rise of AI also brings many challenges, and it’s worth taking time to sort between the genuine risks of this coming technological revolution and the misunderstandings and hype that sometimes surround the topic.

First, let’s talk about job displacement. Because AI can outperform humans at routine tasks—­provided the task is in one domain with a lot of data—it is technically capable of displacing hundreds of millions of white and blue collar jobs in the next 15 years or so.

But not every job will be replaced by AI. In fact, four types of jobs are not at risk at all. First, there are creative jobs. AI needs to be given a goal to optimize. It cannot invent, like scientists, novelists and artists can. Second, the complex, strategic jobs—­executives, diplomats, ­economists—go well beyond the AI limitation of single-­domain and Big Data. Then there are the as-yet-unknown jobs that will be created by AI.

Are you worried that these three types of jobs won’t employ as many people as AI will displace? Not to worry, as the fourth type is much larger: empathetic and compassionate jobs, …read more

Source:: Time – Technology


Poland Charges a Huawei Manager and Pole for Spying on Behalf of China

(WARSAW, Poland) — Poland’s Internal Security Agency has charged a Chinese manager at tech giant Huawei in Poland and one of its own former officers with espionage against Poland on behalf of China, Polish state television reported on Friday.

The two men were arrested on Tuesday. Polish security agents also searched the offices of Huawei and Orange, Poland’s leading communications provider, where the Pole had recently worked, seizing documents and electronic data. The homes of both men were also searched, according to TVP, the state broadcaster.

The development comes as a U.S. dispute with China over a ban on Huawei is spilling over to Europe, the company’s biggest foreign market, where some countries are also starting to shun its network systems over data security concerns.

Some European governments and telecom companies are following the U.S. lead in questioning whether using Huawei for vital infrastructure for mobile networks could leave them exposed to snooping by the Chinese government.

Maciej Wasik, deputy head of Poland’s special service, said that the operation that resulted in the arrest of the two suspects had been underway for a long time and was planned with care.

He said “both carried out espionage activities against Poland.”

Polish state TV, which is close to the government, identified the Chinese man as Weijing W., saying he was a director in Poland at Huawei. Also going by the Polish first name Stanislaw, the Chinese man had previously worked at the Chinese consulate.

State TV identified the Pole as Piotr D., and said he was a high-ranking employee at the Internal Security Agency until 2011, where he served as deputy director in the department of information security.

TVP said the men have not pleaded guilty and are refusing to give testimony in the case.

If convicted, they could face up to 10 years in prison. Under Polish law, their last names cannot be published ahead of trial.

Huawei issued a statement from its Chinese headquarters that said it was aware of the situation and looking into it.

“We have no comment for the time being. Huawei complies with all applicable laws and regulations in the countries where it operates, and we require every employee to abide by the laws and regulations in the countries where they are based,” it continued.

Geopolitical tensions over Huawei intensified after its chief financial officer, who is the daughter of founder Ren Zhengfei, was arrested Dec. 1 in Canada in connection with U.S. accusations that the company violated …read more

Source:: Time – Technology


Google Doodle Honors Banjo-Picking Bluegrass Legend Earl Scruggs

Google honored banjo-picking bluegrass legend Earl Scruggs with its Google Doodle on Friday.

Scruggs, who pioneered a musical style known as the “Scruggs style” which became integral to bluegrass, died in 2012 at age 88. The animated Doodle shows off Scruggs’ fingerpicking playing style.

Google’s Doodle was timed to celebrate the anniversary of the 2014 opening of the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, N.C. The Scruggs Center is dedicated to celebrating Scuggs’ life and helping to educate people about the North Carolina musical traditions that gave rise to Scruggs’ talent.

Scruggs’ son, Gary, told Google: “Even though my father, Earl Scruggs, passed away before the Earl Scruggs Center opened, he was involved in its planning stages. It was important for him that the Earl Scruggs Center would serve as more than a museum displaying interesting artifacts and memorabilia, but as an educational facility as well.”

“I very much admired the fact that my Dad was not only a world-class musician, but was also willing and eager to teach his musical skills to anyone asking his advice.”

Scruggs was born in North Carolina in 1924, where he grew up playing the banjo. His musical career would span some six decades, winning him four Grammy awards and a star on the Hollywood walk of fame.

…read more

Source:: Time – Technology