By Danielle O’Rourke – August 18, 2017

Today’s newsletter serves no other purpose than to be a momentary distraction.  I’ll resume normal course next week.

Now, to your distraction:


Topic of the Week: Artificial Intelligence

I am thoroughly amused by Artificial Intelligence right now.

First, I find the current debate between Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk fascinating.  In case you’re getting up to speed, here’s my quick interpretation of the two sides:

Team Mark (Idealistic): AI will make life better for all of us.  With the help of AI, we will one day live in a world where machines do everything, and we all sit back and enjoy living off our universal basic income.

Team Elon (Apocalyptic):  AI will eventually conduct a Terminator-style takeover and eliminate the human race.  To fight back, we need to program our brains with AI.

Personally, I hope we end up with C3PO-like robots which provide a bit of snark and comic relief at the end of a hard day.  I don’t think that’s too much to ask.


The Current State of AI

In my very uninformed opinion, AI faces one big challenge: Humans.

If the last week taught us anything, it’s that humans are far from perfect.   AI is susceptible to human error, including programming errors, failure to anticipate how AI will solve a problem, and unexpected human intervention.

For your amusement, here are a few of my favorite examples of AI exhibiting human imperfections:

Security robot is unable to handle its stressful working conditions.

Security is a tough business.  Unable to handle the stress of its duties, a security robot lunged itself down multiple steps and landed in a watery grave. RIP Robo Cop.  Link here >

Facebook’s chatbots get shut down for creating their own language.

Like many people learning English for the first time, Facebook’s chatbots quickly realized English is not an efficient language.  So they made their own.  Link here >

Video game creators didn’t anticipate that an AI would cheat.

The creators of Elite Dangerous received complaints from players about how difficult the game was to play. Apparently, the AI used to control the game’s villains wasn’t impressed with the weapons it had to choose from.  To spice things up, it combined bits and pieces of various weapons to create undefeatable super weapons.   Link here >

Okay, team Elon is starting to make sense.

Microsoft dropped an impressionable chatbot into the deep end of the Internet. 

The internet is not always the nicest of places.  It seems Microsoft forgot this when it launched a new chatbot.  Twitter users taught the chatbot to respond with inappropriate remarks, and the chatbot had to be shut down. Link here >

An AI bot has a strange eye for design

My Handy Design Bot was created to select popular images on the internet and automatically transplant images onto phone cases.  Unfortunately, the bot has strange taste and started grabbing obscure images from the depths of the internet.   I don’t think there is a huge market for toilet paper roll phone cases. Link here >

Have a great weekend everyone and enjoy the Eclipse on Monday!