Hosting Interzone: AI’s impact on us, the economy, and history

I’m looking forward to hosting Interzone’s “third act” tomorrow. The topic is deep and dark and heavy: the genesis of an ethical digital blueprint for the post-pandemic economy. (I’m kind of tempted to throw in a “great reset” phrase here to tweak the QAnon community.)

Seriously, though, it’s a big topic. And we’ve got a seriously all-star cast to talk about it:

    Executive Director of Deloitte AI Institute | Founder of Humans for AI
    Director of Machine Learning Research at NVIDIA
    CEO of SalesChoice | Contributor, AI Leadership at Forbes
    Global AI Business Growth Leader at Google I Member of the MIT Technology Review’s Global Panel
    Senior Vice President of AI at Unity Technologies I Former Head of Machine Learning at Uber and Amazon

Here’s the session overview that I’ll kick off with …

We are in the early stages of a new economic system that fundamentally thrives on the sharing and open distribution of physical, intellectual and artistic resources. The proliferation of closed and privately-held intellectual property no longer provides the greatest value to any conceivable group of stakeholders. Political and economic power is rapidly shifting from centuries-old centralized institutions to more agile, adaptable and distributed socio-economic frameworks. And, yet these innovative frameworks are rapidly acquired and controlled by the same power structures and further entrenched in oligarchic incumbencies.

Will the utopia of democratized technologies drive equality and opportunity, or will it merely be the case of one ruling class replacing another; with incumbency and inequality further entrenched by the ever-increasing dominion of technology?

And here’s my introduction & the questions for the panel …

Today, you could pretty easily argue that AI is reengineering the human experience and impacting the evolution of our societies and nations

  • Music: AI chooses our next song
  • Social interaction: AI chooses what we see
  • News: AI selects what we read
  • Entertainment: AI selects the next video

Obviously, all of this happens within a universe that we help define in ways both intentional and unintentional, but there are always impacts. As Marshall McLuhan said … we shape our tools, then our tools shape us.

Sometimes I wonder if I should skip a song in Apple Music

  • I like the song
  • Just not right now
  • But if I skip it, am I training the algorithm to not play me that song again later?

Should I like that video on TikTok?

  • It’s pretty cool
  • But it’s a little too juvenile
  • Do I really want to see more like that?

News is not immune: I use Flipboard to follow tech news

  • But I’m seeing more political news
  • Why?
  • Am I clicking on more of it?

You can go a bit nuts, or conspiracy theory on this. And human agency still exists. Even so, AI is increasingly a core factor in the texture and fabric of our reality. And, therefore, the future we’re planting the seeds for right now. 

  • Is its influence healthy? 
  • Can it be healthier? 
  • If so … how?

And .. can we create AI that serves all of us, not just the rich or the powerful, or not just those of a certain gender or skin color? Can we make artificial intelligence a force for emerging good, or will it just entrench existing divisions?

Lots to discuss here … and some great people to do it with …

Questions I’ll ask the panel

Percentage of AI impact today?

To answer these questions, we have to know something about AI’s influence and extent today … 

  • How much of the economy does AI influence today?
    • Ads
    • Visibility of products
    • Shipping algorithms
  • How much of culture does AI impact today?
    • Music we hear
    • Videos we see
    • News we get

Surveillance capitalism and the impact of reality bubbles

If AI is influencing x% of what we see, what we want, what we get, what we think is in the universe of possibility … 

  • What is the impact of that in individuals?
  • How is that changing our society?
  • How does that change the future?
  • Who benefits from that?

Inclusion and normalization of bias

If we build AI on how the world is today … how can it not adopt our biases?

  • How is our AI perpetuating bias?
  • What can we do about it?
  • Are any of us outside the system? How do we determine what is biased?
  • Should AI have a serendipity factor?
    • “Force” you to see things outside of your reality bubble …
  • Should AI have a balance factor?
    • Search Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Twitter for a politician. Look at what the system recommends … all people on the same side.

Identification of what is real

  • How good will deepfakes get?
  • We already see huge divides … what impact will amazing deepfakes on controversial political and social issues have?
  • Will we get AI to identify deepfakes?
  • Or AI to certify “real” footage?

Building responsible AI

  • What does responsible AI look like?
  • How do you develop it?
  • How do you ensure that it stays responsible as it evolves?
  • Who should be involved in this?
  • What role should it play?
    • In our economy
    • In our culture
    • In our politics
    • In our reality