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    • I'm reading raves about this episode of Frontline and I found it to be riveting.

      Here are some things that stuck with me:

      First, when Google's AlphaGo beat the world's best Go player, AI showed once again that it is more creative than humans. It invented moves humans never considered in 4,000 years of playing Go, same as it did in Chess.

      Someone asked the question I was thinking: what about problems like climate change where we have tons of data but none of us has been able to think up an answer? It seems impossible to imagine, but maybe AI can think of something creative we can't.

      More points below.

    • Second, automation. Robots have been enormously successful at removing labor from assembly lines. They are good at repetitive, manual tasks. So a GM plant that used to employ 75,000 workers with middle class wages, now employs 7,500 at lower wages. The robots that displaced the labor don't buy things at Walmart or pay taxes.

      I was surprised to see so many people in the film I know or know of. @afisher 's previous business partner had some really cogent explanation of the rise of income inequality:

      He said automation is replacing labor with capital so the people with the capital get richer and labor gets poorer. It leads to this graph, which shows the rise of the rich and decline of the poor. Guess which color is which...

      Here's the thing: robots displace labor, but AI displaces white collar jobs. It's another form of automation, for a different class of workers.

    • Third, we thought we were searching Google, but Google is searching us. They had people like Shoshana Zuboff on who pointed out that surveillance capitalism works so well because most people think they can't be influenced but almost everyone is and it's incredibly effective. That's why Google and Facebook are so rich, because it works.

      From all the nuances they collect, like how low you tend to let your phone battery go before charging, which indicates things like risk aversion, the machine comes to know us better than anyone.

      The new voice activated assistants are providing a new bonanza of info because they can tell our mood. whether we have a cold, etc.

    • Fourth, they had the Editor of WIRED on, Nicholas Thompson, whom I have massive respect for. WIRED is crushing it under him.

      He said he and most people in the Western world thought AI would give the most benefit to democracies and least to authoritative regimes, but the reverse appears to be happening. It's very good at undermining democracy and helping China strengthen its one-party rule.

    • Last, they gave a lot of air time to Kai-Fu Lee, who had fascinating things to say. The first is there are two AI superpowers and everyone else. The US has the lead but China is closing the gap.

      Especially in surveillance, China is the innovator, and they are selling the tech currently to 38 countries with the value prop of keeping their citizens in line.

      I think everyone should watch this film.

    • Thank you for sharing this, Chris! I'll be sure to watch it.. Now, for some reason, I keep thinking, I do want to live the date and time when AI will become able to be conscious, as we are. And then raise that to another level.

    • I watched the whole film. It's an intriguing collection of thoughts and images presented in ways they selected to maximize impact that drives a specific message home. And that is to create sentiments like fear and some kind of magic aura on Silicon valley and China. Surely it can do individual, quite complex tasks, much better than humans if given enough data, and there's a camera in every street corner. But to me, AI remains just another answering machine on steroids. It's that Rottweiler some neighbor is raising... and everyone's worried. But for the truck drivers and poor folks for which a bag of onions and a chunk of ham represents a month's worth of subsistence, being threatened yet once more, if it wasn't for AI it would have been something else. Note it's the jobs that are the leitmotif of concern in the movie, not the actual fabric of society which really needs a change at the core, with or without AI. Meaning those who expect something to trickle from the top down, will always be dissapointed. As a result, the world will remain just as unjust as ever, but somebody's got to be buying some more stock, somewhere, sometime ;-)

    • Great article. That’s been my mantra for a very long time: technology taketh away but it giveth back. You lose the coal jobs, creating awful pain, but you gain the solar installation jobs, creating more happiness than you lost because no black lung.

      What I didn’t see coming was the grotesque rise in income inequality in many countries, like in the US. I don’t know how much has to do with tax law and social programs and how much is due to tech.

    • Jerry and the others make great points, though automation has been replacing labor since the British industrial revolution in the 1780s with the invention of the power loom, steam engine and other inventions.

      And, it's not just AI displacing workers; it's software in general. The humble PC displaced a lot of secretaries and file clerks, yet somehow those folks all landed in other jobs. Email displaced a lot of postal service employees; the drop in first class mail volume is well documented.

      On the other hand, software and the Internet have created a lot of new jobs, and not just for software engineers, but those of 'labor' as well. Just think of all the Uber and Lyft drivers that didn't exist a few years ago. Who knew so many people wanted to be gypsy cab drivers?

      Or all the Amazon Prime Now, DoorDash and FlipCart delivery people? It will be a while before any AI, robot or drone replaces those folks bounding up my driveway.

      Will automation eventually replace these folks? Most assuredly, just like the car replaced the 10,000 people employed in turn-of-the-century Manhattan scooping up horse poop. But then again, how many people really aspire to a lifetime career of being an Uber driver, Prime Now delivery person ... or pooper scooper?