Doc Huston


News — At The Edge — 7/14

Shape of the near future — multi-assistant world, data slavery, justice and drones — depends on the resolution of some hard choices.


If Duplex is the future, then Google Assistant, Alexa, and Cortana should start working together —

“[Google] Duplex…[is] conversational AI that makes phone calls to schedule appointments or make restaurant reservations….

[Since] bot-to-bot communication will soon be critical…makers of assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant need to work together….Amazon and Microsoft are planning to provide [this]…[because] we will come to live in a multi-assistant world….

An example of how this could function is the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX) format made available last year for interoperability of Microsoft’s Cognitive Toolkit, Facebook’s Caffe2, and PyTorch…[with] an ecosystem of engines and frameworks to train and deploy AI….

[This] would also boost the entire conversational computing space…to entrust more tasks…[and] make room…for specialized assistants…[to] do their job more effectively or accomplish other goals….[A] very different world from the one we live in today.”

What if people were paid for their data? —

“‘DATA SLAVERY’…is the state in which most people now live…[and] something is rotten in the data economy….

Germany’s chancellor, recently called for a price to be put on personal data….[If] people really controlled their data — and the tech giants were required to pay for access…[w]hat would such a data economy look like?….

Unlike physical resources, personal data are…‘non-rival’ goods, meaning…the more they are used, the better for society….

[Since] most AI algorithms need to be trained using reams of human-generated examples…[it’s] a form of labor which powers AI…[mostly] passive, as people engage in all kinds of activities….[Some’s] more active, as they make decisions (such as labelling images or steering a car through a busy city….

[Still] few people will have the time or inclination to keep track of all the information they generate, or estimate its value…[and] lack the bargaining power to get a good deal from AI firms….

[Expect] rise of…‘data-labor unions’…[to] serve as gatekeepers of people’s data[though] so far failed to make much headway….

[The] tech giants already pay for data…through outsourcing…armies of raters and moderators to check the quality of their algorithms and take down content that is illegal or offensive. Other firms use crowd-working platforms….

[I]f AI lives up to the hype, it will lead to demand for more and better data…which people may only provide if they get paid….[But] to happen….

  • [First] legal framework will be needed to encourage the emergence of a new data economy….
  • Second, the technology to keep track of data flows needs to become much more capable. Research to calculate the value of particular data to an AI service is in its infancy….
  • [Third] people will have to develop a ‘class consciousness’ as data workers.…. 90% of Americans think being in control of who can get data on them is important, according to the Pew Research….

[Societies] have to find a mechanism to distribute the wealth created by AI. As things stand, most of it accrues to the big data distilleries. Unless this changes, social inequality could revert to medieval levels.”

If the Supreme Court is Nakedly Political, Can It Be Just? —

“[W]e wonder whether a Supreme Court that has come to be rigidly divided by both ideology and party can sustain public confidence for much longer….[in] era of partisan division….

The trend is extreme — and alarming. In the 1950s and 1960s, the ideological biases…appointees were relatively modest. The gap…has steadily grown…[and in] past 10 years…[and] justices have hardly ever voted against the ideology of the president who appointed them….

[It’s] impossible to regard the court as anything but a partisan institution…[and] will be seen by the public as one whose votes on controversial issues are essentially determined by the party affiliation of recent presidents….

Assaults on judicial independence are…easier when the public comes to view the judiciary as a political body. This risk…should be at the center of public attention.

Tomorrow’s squadron leaders will be accompanied by drones -

[ Taranis] is about the size of a small jet fighter…shaped like a flying wing….[is] an unmanned, stealthy combat drone…[operated] by a pilot sitting in a control center on the ground….

[When] using artificially intelligent [systems]… can take off, find its way to a combat zone, select a target, attack said target with missiles and then find its way home and land….

[A] single pilot could fly with a number of combat drones…as his ‘wingbots’…might be used to reconnoiter an area or attack it, permitting the manned aircraft to hold back….[They can] undertake defensive…turns at g-forces so high that a human being could not withstand …to divert incoming missiles away from a manned fighterand issuing orders to accompanying combat drones….

[Many] countries are now exploring…unmanned military planes to carry cargo and as refueling tankers ….[Airbus] looking at single-pilot operation…[with] a ground-based pilot to take control of an aircraft in the event of a problem.”

Find more of my ideas on Medium at,
A Passion to Evolve.
Or click the Follow button below to add me to your feed.
Prefer a weekly email newsletter — free, no ads, no spam, & never sell the list — email me with “add me” in the subject line.
May you live long and prosper!
Doc Huston

More by Doc Huston

Topics of interest

More Related Stories