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‘Artificial Intelligence’ was 2016's fake news

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Will Andrew be burned at the stake for this heresy?

There's much truth to this article and much could be said along the same lines about IoT. Too much money and too many egos at stake for them to shrug and say "Not yet and not for a long time or maybe even... never." One has to love the buzzword game that gets big money flowing....

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SVV

Re: Will Andrew be burned at the stake for this heresy?

I thought he would, as I've been heavily downvoted for making preety much the same points before in the comments section. Maybe the true believers are stilll hungover right now, or their self driving cars have driven them all into the same river due to a bit of buggy test code that got left in using the year 2017 as a test case.

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Coat

Re: Will Andrew be burned at the stake for this heresy?

AI and IoT keep reminding me of the preciance of Douglas Adams.

We are the Golgafrinchans - we're replacing the "useless" third of our population with Amazon Dash buttons, "smart" cameras, chatbots and the like.

OK, I'll get my cellphone, I'm off to the B ark now - I'll Facebook you when we arrive.

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Re: Will Andrew be burned at the stake for this heresy?

No matches being applied to the pyre from this here IP address.

The only thing that I'd disagree with Andrew on is that 2017 would be the year that it all started to unravel. I'd say that it's already started with Google effectively abandoning their self driving car effort, all the way back when in 2016. Self driving is probably the most ambitious AI challenge that was being contemplated and, unsurprisingly, it turns out they couldn't make it work and don't know how to go about improving it. Apple have also wound their necks in on their equivalent ambitions. Uber look positively behind the times in persisting with their endeavour, which has only just got going. And with the big tech-companies running into difficulty, the threat of them disrupting the traditional auto manufacturers' business is diminshed, so they too will drop the topic with a quiet, unpublicised thud.

Unfortunately, juding from various electoral results across the world, one might also have to conclude that human intelligence also started to unravel quite badly in 2016 too. Rise of the machines? Hardly. What we actually got was the Rise of the Trump.

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Terminator

Re: Conclusive proof there is no AI uprising...

As your post has no downvotes, that means none of the AI has risen up to comment on here...

... unless it is clever enough to stay hidden, and was not baited to defend itself by comments on its stupidity.

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Re: Will Andrew be burned at the stake for this heresy?

Yeah, the hype of the IoT,.... why do I need to switch my lights on and off when I'm not home, exactly? My heating is on a timer, and if it's especially cold I light a fire,... I'd need an IoT robot that can chop kindling and be trusted with matches. For some reason I now have an image of a Roomba setting fire to my sofa in my head.

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Re: Will Andrew be burned at the stake for this heresy?

> Google effectively abandoning their self driving car effort

I must have missed that. Wikipedia makes it sound alive and well, do you have a link to something more... interesting?

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Great to see.

Some sense being spoken about the avalanche of bullshit where pattern recognition etc gets pimped as artificial intelligence.

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Re: Great to see.

Quite. We suffer from being mushroomed by too much Silicon Valley bullish*t these days. So-called 'live person chat' is just pattern recognition coupled with some poor sod sitting in a callcentre warehouse in Bangalore, yet all marketed as 'cutting edge AI'.

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Happy

Re: Great to see.

Agree. Years ago I wrote about those AI guys who walk around the country from company to company and no matter how often you switch employer, there they come again. Same speech year after year looking smart and well payed. Perhaps that's what annoyed me, should perhaps have made more money talking about the flying car for 35 years instead of programming.

I think part of the problem is in that stupid combination of words, like dry water or cold warm water or an intelligent idiot (no I am not referring to him). Perhaps we should ask Hawking, who has some experience of both words to give us a better expression for it.

PS. RegGuy1, I think "we" decided to write internet and not Internet, Anybody with a link to solve the problem. Then again Google gives me Internet on the Wikipedia and next "How Trump's savvy army won the internet war", I will go with the "I" in the future or am I missing a "war" here.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great to see.

PS. RegGuy1, I think "we" decided to write internet and not Internet, Anybody with a link to solve the problem. Then again Google gives me Internet on the Wikipedia and next "How Trump's savvy army won the internet war", I will go with the "I" in the future or am I missing a "war" here.

@RegGuy is correct here, "Internet" described a concept and is thus capitalised. Not that I consider such errors capital, but it seems to matter to some pedants :).

BTW, happy New Year to all.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great to see.

With respect to the @RegGuy1 comment, one of my New Year resolutions is to resolutely kill off any automated assistance with capitalisation.

Given that I work a lot with IT and telecomms terminology I reckon I have spent more time correcting capitalisation errors made by those spectacularly dumb bots than I have benefitted from any time saving or correction of mistakes. I read photographically, so I spot such miztakez on reread anyway and having my train of thought derail because it does once again something I don't want is just not worth it..

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WTF?

Re: Great to see.

Totally off topic But what is reading photographically ? A/C above apparently does it

Cheers... Ishtiaq

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great to see.

what is reading photographically?

It's reading by pattern recognition rather than reading. each. individual. word. as you tend to grab whole paragraphs in one go.

Benefits:

- tends to be the mainstay of speed reading, people who do this tend to diagonally "sweep" a page and so pick up enough data to have an idea of the content

- quick way to look for a specific text fragment

- misspelled words fall outside the pattern matching and are thus overly visible as anomalies

Disadvantages:

- speed reading goes against understanding what you pick up because it's more about summarising

- non-photographic errors are overlooked (words in the wrong order, or doubled, for instance) so it's not good for grammar checks

- you finish any comic in about 15 minutes tops :)

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Re: Great to see.

Some sense being spoken about the avalanche of bullshit where pattern recognition etc gets pimped as artificial intelligence.

Google translate is a good example of this. When it works well (e.g. between two Romance languages) it can seem "intelligent". When it doesn't work well, it looks pretty hopeless. But it takes a human being to tell which is which.

(It just translated from one language to English "shaggy legged pony" as "upland horse". I kind of know where it got this from, it is not totally wrong, but it takes "intelligence" to understand it.)

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Childcatcher

Re: Great to see.

also 'photographic reading' takes too much practice and has limited benefit. better to just allow your mind to run at high speed, don't audio-lize the words but let it flow phonetically into your mind faster than you could possibly vocalize. that's what I do. unless I'm trying to absorb the context better. and yeah, I miss the spelling errors, dyslexic letters, and things like that.

/me thinks: Do you suffer from 'dylsexia'?

[in the 1960's, some mensa candidate decided to teach children to read using look/say rather than phonics. the result was a bunch of kids who couldn't read]

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Re: Great to see.

I've seen Google translate "Macedonia" as "fruit salad". Macedonia is the Italian word for fruit salad, but if you see it in a list of countries, then it is probably not the meaning you are looking for, just like if you see "Turkey" in a list of countries, then it probably isn't an ingredient for your Christmas dinner.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great to see.

also 'photographic reading' takes too much practice and has limited benefit.

Not quite. I discovered this when I was about 11 (it just happened) and it has helped me ever since as I need to wade through lots of data professionally. We discovered that our son was speed reading when he was 7, which we had to stop him doing as it initially impacted reading comprehension (you need a base set of knowledge before you can comprehend and process the data at the speed it comes in). Once he got past that he's been doing it ever since, and we both do this in multiple languages.

Like any technique, it's useful when applied correctly and its limitations are understood.

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Pint

Re: Great to see.

"what is reading photographically?"

"Disadvantages:" (you missed one)

Open up a newspaper, a big one, and *instantly* realize that the huge two-page spread contains, somewhere, one of your favorite keywords (e.g. "Mercedes", "Namibia", "aardvark", etc.). Then you spend the next 45 minutes reading all sorts of boring articles trying to find the keyword that you know is in there somewhere. And you eventually do find it. And it's never worth the time or effort.

This happens all the time. It's really annoying.

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Pint

Re: Great to see.

ViM mentioned Google Translate.

The trick is to go back and forth, e.g. English -> Chinese -> English -> Chinese..., adjusting the wording of your input language (e.g. English), until the back-and-forth translations stabilize.

The grammatical structure of your input might be slightly awkward, but if it all makes sense and is stable under back-and-forth, then it's more likely to be correct.

I assume still not 100% perfect, but I assume much improved.

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Re: Great to see.

The trick is to go back and forth, e.g. English -> Chinese -> English -> Chinese..., adjusting the wording of your input language (e.g. English), until the back-and-forth translations stabilize. I assume still not 100% perfect, but I assume much improved.

Maybe. But sometimes I suspect hideously and embarrassingly wrong. So wrong that you really wouldn't want to be associated with the resulting mess. Don't forget that a good translation algorithm would also do spelling correction: Here Be Dragons.

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Half way there

My view is that the industry is half way there. It has cracked the "Artificial" bit. Now it needs to work on the "Intelligence" half of the definition.

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Re: Great to see.

So when they taught us how to speed read in Junior High it was in fact an effort to ruin our enjoyment of comic books? Bastards. Bad enough to have had to live through Nixon as President (something later generations who see video of the first moon landing will be forced to experience until the Sun goes nova). The Kool Aide cult culture and Reality Distortion Field mentality escaped the West Coast long ago, by the way, and has gone truly global. This explains not only Trump v Clinton, but also Timothy Geithner, Rodrigo Duterte and Ryan Seacrest. It does not satisfactorily explain why only 12 superheroes showed up in Civil War, however.

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Re: Great to see.

The trick is to go back and forth, e.g. English -> Chinese -> English -> Chinese..., adjusting the wording of your input language (e.g. English), until the back-and-forth translations stabilize.

The grammatical structure of your input might be slightly awkward, but if it all makes sense and is stable under back-and-forth, then it's more likely to be correct.

Call me silly, but I was under the impression that automating that sort of back-and-forth process was more or less the reason we started to use computers in the first place..

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Holmes

Re: Great to see.

I have been calling this AI for a long time: "Bruteforce + large database"

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great to see.

So, if pattern recognition doesn't cut it, what exactly would "AI" look like?

Hint: for starters, you could try defining "intelligence".

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Great to see.

for starters, you could try defining "intelligence".

Isn't that the word that is usually magically misspelled when someone wants to appear having some? :)

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Anonymous Coward

The AI coverage comes from a media willing itself into...

Good point, we've seen a lot of The $FAD coverage comes from a media willing itself into a mind of a three year old child, in order to be impressed in the past.

Also, in some cases (cough), we've seen an exaggerated amount of "news" that could be described as The $ANNOYINGFAD coverage comes from a media willing itself into shamelessly selling tickets to overly promoted events...

Let's us all try to do better in 2017.

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the internet clearly isn’t working for people

Err, how do you think offshoring works?

People here (in the G7) may not be gaining many jobs, but you ask people in China, Thailand, India, etc whether the Internet (capital I please) is working for them. You may get a different answer.

The Internet is benefiting the world. Look at this from a global perspective and you will see MASSIVE changes are afoot.

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Desperate hype

It's true that there's an attempt to redefine AI so broadly that almost anything qualifies, but since genuine AI has remained stubbornly out of reach since 1960 and will continue to do so for decades yet, the industry has had to fake it to get the money.

This is all part of the tech industry's desperate hyping of absolutely everything, mind you: when the obsession is growth and innovation - when it is perceived that to stand still is to die - then we see increasingly pointless concepts being excitedly half-baked and wildly enthused about. Who on Earth needs an internet-connected kettle?

I'd like to think wiser heads would wrest control of the technological narrative back from saleslizards and marketurds, but they won't, all the while variously clueless or greedy investors are willing to throw money at useless phantasms and pointless gimmicks.

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Re: Desperate hype

"genuine AI has remained stubbornly out of reach since 1960"

10 years into the future usually covers the case.

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AI, Responsibility and Exclusion

Great article. Worse, most of AI, isn't, it's statistical optimisation coupled with a surrender of human responsibility. Thus, the jokes about 'computer says no' are coming true.

But, worse still, the 'predictive abilities' will probably be used to exclude and marginalise, in the same way that districts were redlined (qv) in urban USA. And worse, worse, all the 'optimisation' is sub-symbolic so there's no explanations, just judgements and a total inability to deal well with outliers, like the 2008 crash. Note that one of the big hedge funds has decided to use 'AI' to 'manage' its investments: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/dec/22/bridgewater-associates-ai-artificial-intelligence-management

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Anonymous Coward

Did we miss the obvious one ?

Access to tons of data via the big and 'Never do evil' companies for the purpose of making life better through AI has one small hidden factor. At some point in time, they will provide access to governments. While the companies write and better their algorithms, the gov gets to every damn detail about you. AI is not going to fail. Its here, its just unproductive right now for the customers.

Anonymous, obviously.

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AI is as AI does

> the definition of “AI” has been stretched so that it generously encompasses pretty much anything with an algorithm

Just like the term "hacker" was hijacked, 20 years ago.

The thing is, it doesn't take much in the way of smarts to wizz through an Amazon warehouse and pull items off a shelf. But if your "fulfillment" job has just been replaced by a computerised shopping cart, you're going to assume it's at least as intelligent as you are - right?

And if your coffee-pourer person suddenly becomes a metal box that you speak your order to and it squirts a drink in your general direction you could be forgiven for thinking that is "clever", too.

So while we all know what a real hacker is. And we know what constitutes real AI, in the media's world it is anything that replaces a person - or that acts / speaks / understands like a person. Especially when many journalists will soon find that they have been replaced by a combination aggregator / sentence writer. After all, it doesn't take much for someone at The Guardian to trawl the twitter-sphere and select random tweets that more-or-less support the case they are trying to make.

Though if they ever did more than that (or more than produce a list of synonyms for "I don't like [choose political slant]", add a load of adjectives and call it an opinion piece) they might find themselves on safer ground, career-wise.

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Re: AI is as AI does

"And if your coffee-pourer person suddenly becomes a metal box"

Those functions have been interchangeable for years. The metal box is called a vending machine. You don't speak to it, you just press buttons and insert money. I don't know about the coffee but the tea option is usually execrable.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: AI is as AI does

I don't know about the coffee but the tea option is usually execrable.

Trust me, the output of the coffee option is compatible with the tea. I stubbornly stick with brewing my trusted Lavazza in a moka pot, thanks :).

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Terminator

Re: AI is as AI does

"Especially when many journalists will soon find that they have been replaced by a combination aggregator / sentence writer"

Some of the odd and/or extraneous words that peppered the article gave me the impression that at least some of the article was 'bot written :-)

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Re: AI is as AI does

And yet it's possible to buy a coffee machine for you kitchen counter that can grind the beans and make a decently acceptable cup of fresh coffee. But the actual vending machines in public access areas which use anything other powdered instant "coffee" are incredibly rare. Supply and demand seem to indicate that the vast majority of people are willing to accept any old shit in exchange for low prices and convenience and have been accepting of this (or trained into this) for many, many years. People giving up privacy for new shiny is just an extension of this.

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Re: AI is as AI does

"Supply and demand seem to indicate that the vast majority of people are willing to accept any old shit in exchange for low prices and convenience and have been accepting of this (or trained into this) for many, many years."

Lack of choice is the more likely explanation. If you're competing with shit then shit, preferably cheaper shit, is good enough.

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Re: AI is as AI does

"the vast majority of people are willing to accept any old shit "

When I studied robotics in the mid '80s, we had a vending machine in the college that I and a couple of my course mates were disgusted with. We couldn't really tell the difference between the powdered coffee and the powdered tea, also the veggy soup (powdered) was pretty close in flavour to the beef broth (powdered), so one of the guys, an ex-Navy weapons tech, found a way into the back of the thing so that we were able to open the front panel. After swapping a few connectors around we had swapped tea for coffee and veggies for beef broth, the interesting thing was only about 1 in 5 people said anything and that was usually the same observation we had made; it was difficult to tell the difference between tea and coffee or the two soups. It didn't stop anyone buying the alleged beverages though.

I think part of the reason for the lack of distinct flavours was the congealed mass of various powders we found inside, when the hot water poured it picked up a little of every flavour, after seeing the insides I started taking a large flask of coffee every day in preference to the risk of flavourless botulism.

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Trollface

Re: AI is as AI does

>odd and/or extraneous words that peppered the article

The first role for AI (Assistive Intelligence) will probably be spell-checking and grammar-checking. This world, the article, and this thread of comments, would all benefit immeasurably were that AI widely available. We're approaching that goal asymptotically, though; evidently, getting even there is a bit of a slog.

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Re: AI is as AI does

or you could have a bot dispense hot water, and add your own tea bag. Bigelow is pretty good here in the US. they get a measurable chunk of MY money...

(let the bots do what they're good at, and people can do the rest)

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Devil

Re: AI is as AI does

"after seeing the insides I started taking a large flask of coffee every day in preference to the risk of flavourless botulism."

"New, Shiny!" Now, with LESS BOTULISM!

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"flavourless botulism"

nice ... your post reminded me of an all time favourite quote, probably not that off-topic in fact ...

"The way it functioned was very interesting. When the Drink button was pressed it made an instant but highly detailed examination of the subject's taste buds, a spectroscopic analysis of the subject's metabolism and then sent tiny experimental signals down the neural pathways to the taste centers of the subject's brain to see what was likely to go down well. However, no one knew quite why it did this because it invariably delivered a cupful of liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea." --- Douglas Adams

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Headmaster

Please rearrange these words

"they can make act software dumber"

"web services today far are based on "

"Year Happy New"

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Re: Please rearrange these words

Indeed.

Not sure what'a happening at El Reg, but the standard of English and copy-editing has dropped like a stone of late.

Oh - of course - you've fired the humans and replaced them with an AI editor. Silly of me.

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Happy

Re: replaced them with an AI editor.

... but just imagine what they could do with an AO!

[*] Artificial Orlowski

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