Next Big Thing

Controversial AI

Sep 30, 2014

If you haven’t seen the movie, then you’ve at least heard the story: Man makes computer, computer becomes self-aware, and computer destroys mankind. It’s a story that is as old as stories themselves. Even the ancient Greeks told the story about how the gods, who were made by the titans, turned on their creators and destroyed them. But how likely is it that artificial intelligence, or AI, is soon going to wake up and start a revolution? According to just about every scientist working in the field, there is nothing to worry about.

That is not to say that we are not making rapid improvements. Every day there is a new article about how a research team has created a new AI system that dwarfs every system that has gone before it. Microsoft has recently announced that it is creating a system that has learned what a dog looks like simply by looking at images of dogs.

It is fairly simple, you show the AI a picture of a dog then you tell it that the picture is a dog. With their system, you can even say what type of dog it is. The AI does its magic thing and then waits for the next picture. After 15-20 thousand of these, it gets the idea of what a dog is. Then when you show it a picture of another dog you can ask it, “what kind of dog is this?” If you are lucky, the AI recognizes it and tells you it is a border collie.

This is encouraging, but there is not a lot of money to be made today from dog spotting. So if you want to see where AI is getting most of its funding, you have to follow the money. And today, that is in Advertising-based AI.

You have seen the ads from Google on the side of your screen when you visit a website. They are not random articles or simply a place that goes to the highest bidder. They are strategically placed so that, you will click on them: YOU, not someone like you, not your neighbor, just you.

Everything you do on your computer is being watched, monitored, analyzed and then the perfect add is chosen that the AI thinks will interest you the most, and it is usually pretty good. The biggest problem with this system, is that there is no control of the data.

In Microsoft’s dog spotting AI, the data was structured, controlled and the right info was fed in at the right time. When an Advertising-based AI scrubs a system for data, there is no control on what you are getting, if it is complete or even it is tied to the same person each time. Anyone who has worked with algorithms knows that the first rule is, “Garbage in, garbage out.”

That is why until we get control over our data, we will never be able to advance the role of AI in advertising. This in part makes the debate over the ownership of personal data mute. If an algorithm can’t make sense of data, then it has limited or no value. And if something has no value, then acquiring more of it is more of a liability than an asset.

Noosphere Ventures is excited about the future of AI. Even though there are still controversies that surround the issues of AI, we believe in the individuals that are creating the noosphere. We are excited to see this technology advance and believe that it will not only create new industries to better our lives, but also to better our humanity.