Partnerships Between Humans and Machines Will Define the New Era of Computing « A Smarter Planet Blog

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Dr. James Hendler, Professor and Computer Science Department Head, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

By Dr. James Hendler

Every single student in the Department of Computer Science here at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has the potential to revolutionize computing. But with the arrival of Watson at Rensselaer, they’re even better positioned to do so.

Watson has caused the researchers in my field of artificial intelligence (AI) to rethink some of our basic assumptions. Watson’s cognitive computing is a breakthrough technology, and it’s really amazing to be here at Rensselaer, where we will be the first university to get our hands on this amazing system.

With 90 percent of the world’s data generated in the past two years, the ability for people and even traditional computing systems to make sense of this data has grown complex. The addition of Watson to our campus is very timely considering the growth of what some have termed “Big Data.” 

In 1976, Joseph Weizenbaum, a leading computer scientist, wrote a book called Computer Power and Human Reason: From Judgement to Calculation, in which he criticized the field of AI for trying to replace human creativity and thought with the power of computers.  He suggested that humans and computers were inherently different, and that trying to get computers to think like humans was an insurmountable task, if it was possible at all.

BBC - Future - Technology - Tomorrow’s world: A guide to the next 150 years
As we begin a new year, BBC Future has compiled 40 intriguing predictions made by scientists, politicians, journalists, bloggers and other assorted pundits in recent years about the shape of the world from 2013 to 2150.

BBC - Future - Technology - Tomorrow’s world: A guide to the next 150 years

As we begin a new year, BBC Future has compiled 40 intriguing predictions made by scientists, politicians, journalists, bloggers and other assorted pundits in recent years about the shape of the world from 2013 to 2150.

2045: A New Era for Humanity

In February of 2012 the first Global Future 2045 Congress was held in Moscow. There, over 50 world leading scientists from multiple disciplines met to develop a strategy for the future development of humankind. One of the main goals of the Congress was to construct a global network of scientists to further research on the development of cybernetic technology, with the ultimate goal of transferring a human’s individual consciousness to an artificial carrier.

[N.B.  Some of this is way out there, and breathlessly speculative. But from everything we know about exponential technological change, the world in 10, 20 or 30 years from is likely to be much more radically different than we can even imagine.]

How artificial intelligence is changing our lives - CSMonitor.com
From smart phones that act as personal concierges to self-parking cars to medical robots, the artificial intelligence revolution is here. So where do humans fit in?
At iRobot Corporation in Bedford, Mass., a visitor watches as a five-foot-tall Ava robot independently navigates down a hallway, carefully avoiding obstacles – including people. Its first real job, expected later this year, will be as a telemedicine robot, allowing a specialist thousands of miles away to visit patients’ hospital rooms via a video screen mounted as its “head.” When the physician is ready to visit another patient, he taps the new location on a computer map: Ava finds its own way to the next room, including using the elevator.
At iRobot Corporation in Bedford, Mass., a visitor watches as a five-foot-tall Ava robot independently navigates down a hallway, carefully avoiding obstacles – including people. Its first real job, expected later this year, will be as a telemedicine robot, allowing a specialist thousands of miles away to visit patients’ hospital rooms via a video screen mounted as its “head.” When the physician is ready to visit another patient, he taps the new location on a computer map: Ava finds its own way to the next room, including using the elevator.

How artificial intelligence is changing our lives - CSMonitor.com

From smart phones that act as personal concierges to self-parking cars to medical robots, the artificial intelligence revolution is here. So where do humans fit in?

At iRobot Corporation in Bedford, Mass., a visitor watches as a five-foot-tall Ava robot independently navigates down a hallway, carefully avoiding obstacles – including people. Its first real job, expected later this year, will be as a telemedicine robot, allowing a specialist thousands of miles away to visit patients’ hospital rooms via a video screen mounted as its “head.” When the physician is ready to visit another patient, he taps the new location on a computer map: Ava finds its own way to the next room, including using the elevator.

At iRobot Corporation in Bedford, Mass., a visitor watches as a five-foot-tall Ava robot independently navigates down a hallway, carefully avoiding obstacles – including people. Its first real job, expected later this year, will be as a telemedicine robot, allowing a specialist thousands of miles away to visit patients’ hospital rooms via a video screen mounted as its “head.” When the physician is ready to visit another patient, he taps the new location on a computer map: Ava finds its own way to the next room, including using the elevator.

Crowdsourced AI: the Low-Wage Knowledge Work of the Future
As both Artificial Intelligence and Robotics become more “real,” we have developed a more practical understanding of these technologies’ limitation.  What is striking is that, contrary to what most people believe, the most “irreplaceable” human work tends to come at the lower end of the wage/status scale.  Robots are better at surgery than they are at janitorial work, AI is better at legal scholarship and journalism than it is at customer service.
Enter Chorus, a crowdsourced chat platform
When people talk to the new crowd-powered chat system, called Chorus, using an instant messaging window, they get an experience practically indistinguishable from chatting with a single real person. Yet behind the scenes, each response is the result of tens of people paid a few cents to perform small tasks: including suggesting possible replies and voting for the best suggestions submitted by other workers…
Chorus does that with three simple types of task. First, any new chat updates from the human user are passed along to many crowd workers, who are asked to suggest a reply. Those suggestions are then voted on by crowd workers to determine the one that will be sent back. A final mechanism creates a kind of working memory that ensures that Chorus’s replies reflect the history of the conversation so far, crucial if it is to carry out long conversations—something that is a challenge for apps like Siri and even AI chatbots intended to showcase conversational skills.
For the working memory component, crowd members are asked to maintain a short running list of the eight most important snippets of information under discussion, to be used as a reference when workers suggest replies.
This is important, as to allow for the natural turnover of crowdsourcing workers. “A single person may not be around for the duration of the conversation—they come and go, and some may contribute more than others,” says Bigham.
Bigham says Chorus has the potential to be more than just a neat demonstration. “We definitely want to start embedding it into real systems,” he says. “Perhaps you could help someone with cognitive impairment by having a crowd as a personal assistant.” Another possibility is to combine Chorus with another system previously developed at Rochester, which has crowd workers collaborate to steer a robot. “Could you create a robot this way that can drive around and interact intelligently with humans?” asks Bigham.
(via Artificial Intelligence, Powered by Many Humans - Technology Review)

Crowdsourced AI: the Low-Wage Knowledge Work of the Future

As both Artificial Intelligence and Robotics become more “real,” we have developed a more practical understanding of these technologies’ limitation.  What is striking is that, contrary to what most people believe, the most “irreplaceable” human work tends to come at the lower end of the wage/status scale.  Robots are better at surgery than they are at janitorial work, AI is better at legal scholarship and journalism than it is at customer service.

Enter Chorus, a crowdsourced chat platform

When people talk to the new crowd-powered chat system, called Chorus, using an instant messaging window, they get an experience practically indistinguishable from chatting with a single real person. Yet behind the scenes, each response is the result of tens of people paid a few cents to perform small tasks: including suggesting possible replies and voting for the best suggestions submitted by other workers…

Chorus does that with three simple types of task. First, any new chat updates from the human user are passed along to many crowd workers, who are asked to suggest a reply. Those suggestions are then voted on by crowd workers to determine the one that will be sent back. A final mechanism creates a kind of working memory that ensures that Chorus’s replies reflect the history of the conversation so far, crucial if it is to carry out long conversations—something that is a challenge for apps like Siri and even AI chatbots intended to showcase conversational skills.

For the working memory component, crowd members are asked to maintain a short running list of the eight most important snippets of information under discussion, to be used as a reference when workers suggest replies.

This is important, as to allow for the natural turnover of crowdsourcing workers. “A single person may not be around for the duration of the conversation—they come and go, and some may contribute more than others,” says Bigham.

Bigham says Chorus has the potential to be more than just a neat demonstration. “We definitely want to start embedding it into real systems,” he says. “Perhaps you could help someone with cognitive impairment by having a crowd as a personal assistant.” Another possibility is to combine Chorus with another system previously developed at Rochester, which has crowd workers collaborate to steer a robot. “Could you create a robot this way that can drive around and interact intelligently with humans?” asks Bigham.

(via Artificial Intelligence, Powered by Many Humans - Technology Review)

(via joshbyard)

emergentfutures:

No More Car Crashes by 2020?
The leading cause of car accidents is pretty obvious – its human error. Whether its drunk driving, distracted driving, or aggressive driving, it all comes back to the person behind the wheel. Less than 20% of accidents are caused by road or mechanical failure, so the only way to truly make driving safer for everyone is to give the person behind the wheel more tools to drive safely – or even remove the human element altogether.
Here are five things that can put us on a path to ZERO human error car crashes by 2020:
Full Story: Innovaro

emergentfutures:

No More Car Crashes by 2020?

The leading cause of car accidents is pretty obvious – its human error. Whether its drunk driving, distracted driving, or aggressive driving, it all comes back to the person behind the wheel. Less than 20% of accidents are caused by road or mechanical failure, so the only way to truly make driving safer for everyone is to give the person behind the wheel more tools to drive safely – or even remove the human element altogether.

Here are five things that can put us on a path to ZERO human error car crashes by 2020:

Full Story: Innovaro

New AI Can Learn a Game By Watching You Play, Develop Its Own Strategies to Beat You.
As it watches, [the computer] uses standard image-processing tools to recognise changes in the separate board squares and pieces of a game, while ignoring extra details like human hands. The videos allow the system to learn the rules by logging what the board looks like when a game has been won, and what count as legal moves. Having mastered the rules, the software plays the game by examining all possible moves and choosing those it deems most likely to lead to a win.
As you would expect, its performance depends on the complexity of the game. Connect 4 has few possibilities, making it very hard to beat the trained computer.
(via Computer watches you play a game, then beats you at it - tech - 10 July 2012 - New Scientist)

New AI Can Learn a Game By Watching You Play, Develop Its Own Strategies to Beat You.

As it watches, [the computer] uses standard image-processing tools to recognise changes in the separate board squares and pieces of a game, while ignoring extra details like human hands. The videos allow the system to learn the rules by logging what the board looks like when a game has been won, and what count as legal moves. Having mastered the rules, the software plays the game by examining all possible moves and choosing those it deems most likely to lead to a win.

As you would expect, its performance depends on the complexity of the game. Connect 4 has few possibilities, making it very hard to beat the trained computer.

(via Computer watches you play a game, then beats you at it - tech - 10 July 2012 - New Scientist)

(via joshbyard)

8bitfuture:

Japan planning ‘driverless driving’ for early 2020s.
Japan’s Transport Ministry is about to start a project to create an autopilot system which would take over for cars on expressways.

The ministry envisages an autonomous vehicle system in which, after leaving your home, you enter an interchange of a nearby expressway while manually operating your car.
When pulling into the expressway’s lane exclusively for the autopilot system, you change your driving mode to “automatic driving” and input your destination onto the system. You would take your hands and feet off the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake.
You would return to driving on your own only after reaching an intersection near your destination. Until then, you would leave all driving tasks to the self-steering system, comfortably enjoying whatever activity you like.

The system is hoped to alleviate congestion by keeping vehicles going at a constant speed, while eliminating accidents caused by vehicles veering out of lanes.
A study panel will being initial discussions about the project this month, with an aim to have the system operational in around 10 years.

8bitfuture:

Japan planning ‘driverless driving’ for early 2020s.

Japan’s Transport Ministry is about to start a project to create an autopilot system which would take over for cars on expressways.

The ministry envisages an autonomous vehicle system in which, after leaving your home, you enter an interchange of a nearby expressway while manually operating your car.

When pulling into the expressway’s lane exclusively for the autopilot system, you change your driving mode to “automatic driving” and input your destination onto the system. You would take your hands and feet off the steering wheel, gas pedal and brake.

You would return to driving on your own only after reaching an intersection near your destination. Until then, you would leave all driving tasks to the self-steering system, comfortably enjoying whatever activity you like.

The system is hoped to alleviate congestion by keeping vehicles going at a constant speed, while eliminating accidents caused by vehicles veering out of lanes.

A study panel will being initial discussions about the project this month, with an aim to have the system operational in around 10 years.

(via 8bitfuture)