An astonishing combination last weekend in Switzerland: the near future of Humankind in our newly AI world was debated by 3 authors Olivier Paquet, Antoine Jaquier and Eli Anderson and animated by the brilliant journalist Elise Lepine while we were all cruising on the Geneva lake. Let’s have a look at their points of view to help us paint the future of AI in Industry.
First, let’s demystify AI by differentiating 2 kinds of AI (taking from the course in Coursera “AI for everyone” by Andrew Ng):
1. ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence) where the algorithm, the system is supporting human being (E.g. SMART speaker, self-driving car, web search, AI in farming and factories)
2. AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) where the machine does anything a human does.
We are often confusing AI with AGI while the present signs of progress are focusing on ANI (and not AGI — yesssss!!). As per Mc Kinsey recent research, ANI will create a value of 13 Trillion USD by 2030.
AI is supposed to help us as humans,not replace us
As a human, to take any action or a decision we have to process a certain amount of data (E.g “it is raining” + “I am at home” + “ I have to go outside to walk the dog” => “I will take my coat and my umbrella to walk the dog”).
We are building a logic, an algorithm to come to an action or a decision. With technological evolution, we are creating huge amounts of data, called “Big data”, which in turn needs to be processed and analyzed. Machines are programmed to support us in taking the right actions or decisions.
As humans, we cannot process anymore the vast amounts of data; we need the help of machines
In manufacturing, you take as an input a high-resolution picture of manufacturing good (for example a cell phone) coming off the assembly line, and you want to output the following: “is there a scratch, or is there a dent, or some other defects on this product you have just manufactured?”
This visual inspection is helping manufacturers to reduce or to prevent defects. In this case, the use is quite positive as we guarantee the quality of the cell phone to customers.
But as Antoine Jaquier underlined during the literary cruise, we are often abusing today the use of these algorithms. For example, Professors in the USA have been fired just because the “algorithm concluded so”. In this case, we are hiding our decision behind the algorithm output in order to not be accountable for the decision.
As Antoine Jaquier reminded us, since the Renaissance period with the opening of maritime routes and the creation of a structured commercial process, the world has been driven by commercial transactions, to be as profitable as possible. The consequence nowadays is that narrow AI is being developed to make a few of us very rich. To survive we would need to be only 4 billion inhabitants on our planet (and we are currently more than 7 billion according to 2017 statistics). In his book “Simili Love” edited Au Diable Vauvert, the world of 2040 sounds similar to nowadays: divided in 3 social categories:
- the Elite
- the Designated that support the first category and the last one
- the Useless which represents 70% of the population.
All our personal data are public and the world is directed by Foogle (…!). “The Useless” population is dying progressively as the water they are drinking is making them sterile and they do not have the right to any health-care (according to the book, hopefully not to reality!) and the two other social categories do not have any privacy anymore and become lonelier.
Antoine Jaquier’s solution is to live again in communities, helping and being with each other. As he says “I like my Iphone but I do not believe it is our flame as human beings”.
Nowadays, if we continue as such, AI is progressing with what is currently driving us: profitability that does not benefit all of us and nor our planet
Coming back to our manufacturing example, the visual inspection helps avoid defects.
This in turns, drive customer satisfaction and profitability (as we need to optimize our process to avoid imperfections that cost money. Customer also tend to buy more of good quality products).
Profitability is driving our world today and I do not believe this will change anytime soon! As customer how can we make a switch that will not be destructive for our planet and the community? Consequently, how can we move AI to the virtuous side?
To answer this question, let’s highlight Olivier Paquet’s point of view: According to Greek mythology the Titan Epimetheus was responsible for giving a positive trait to every animal, but when it was time to give Humankind a positive trait, there were none left.
His twin brother Prometheus decided that Humankind’s attributes would be the civilizing arts and fire, which he stole from Athena and Hephaestus.
That means that the ability to create and to progress through technology is our specificity. “The technology of the Iphone was known before it launched in 2007. Iphone found Apple and that is why it has been a success, reflects Olivier, we are co-evolving with the machine”; we cannot reject its existence.
We are co-evolving with our machines; it is one of our specificities as Humankind
Expert in politics, Olivier’s point is that this co-evolution can only be virtuous if we take the following political approach: the well-being of humankind will lie in our capacity to find the right consensus between us.
Olivier refers to the 3rd Republic in France where law could only be released by consensus but not by the majority (because the minority would be fully neglected).
However, as it implies that all of the representatives need to agree, decision times were very long.
In his novel “Les Machines Fantomes”, the AI themselves are looking at the best consensus for Humankind, thereby being more efficient.
AI could support us, depending on how we choose to use it. I believe we are beginning to look at narrow AI through the right lenses with the development of new green resources, the reduction of energy waste in manufacturing (E.g. AI solutions to parameter the optimum use of energy in real-time) often because it also supports profitability.
Despite the fact that algorithms are already playing with our emotions and therefore our votes, the choice should remain to us (E.g. In 2016, Cambridge Analytica specialists in data mining worked for Donald Trump’s presidential campaign as well as for Leave.EU which ultimately led to Brexit. CA’s role in those campaigns has been controversial and is the subject of ongoing criminal investigations in both countries).
Eli Anderson is not only a writer but also a geriatrics doctor (taking care of our elderly). The seniors inspire him in his book: “they have so much to teach us and we often ignore them” .
They remind us that we have the choice, the choice to follow the community, or the choice to be on our own and follow our own needs and beliefs.
In “Mila Hunt” Edited by Albin Michel, Mila is a teenager who has the strong power to change the will of the persons she is meeting.
The government called “The Centre” sends her to the ghetto to eliminate their leaders using her power.
Arriving there, she comes across a strange world where the teenagers have taken over, and she starts to wonder why the Centre wants her to eliminate them. She is emotionally affected by their way of being and leading in a positive way.
“The affect becomes the limit of the technology and we can always choose to be outside of it”
Contrary to all Science fiction movies from the last decade, we should not be afraid of the AI itself but rather of the purpose, we are programming it for.
Laws start to pop up to protect these deviations, but it still does not seem enough to ensure that our free will is guaranteed. We need to deal with the evolution of technology but how? As soon as WE — because of our emotion and infinite capacity to love — will take the step as an individual, then a community, or even as a government (let’s hope) to consume for our common good and the one of our planet, then manufacturers will have to evolve accordingly to be profitable (otherwise their service or products will no longer be bought by the people).
The co-evolution of ANI will only then become virtuous. Unfortunately, this Utopia looks far away for the time being.
My dream is that AI & EI (Emotional Intelligence) will co-exist for the best of our next generation; but how can we evolve as such?
A special thank you to Olivier Paquet, Antoine Jaquier, Eli Anderson and Elise Lepine for the passionate debate that inspired this reflection.
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