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AI is the north of SXSW

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AI is the north of SXSW

Alexandre Gama faz sua leitura (em inglês) do SXSW e afirma que Inteligência Artificial dá o rumo dos avanços à frente.

Pyr Marcondes
15 de março de 2018 - 8h17

South By South West in Austin, Texas is about as many and diverse things as the theme pillars of tech, creativity, innovation, education, startups, music, health, food, financials and cinema can put up together. And as in the case of everything that is plentiful, SXSW can’t be deep. So, it’s a wide ocean of info as shallow as a puddle.

But that is not a problem if you get there looking for broadening your horizons instead of scuba diving into some specific field or expertise. Actually, it seems to me that the main value proposition of SXSW resides in its capacity of creating a wide horizontal view of the world we are living in at the moment and the new one that’s coming out the corner of E Cesar Chavez St. and Red River St. where the the Austin Convention Centre is based.

Each one of the event’s attendees can- and probably will- describe a different side and impression of it as there’s something for everybody.

So, my point here is not adding another pixel to the overall image, but instead comment on an aspect that called my attention in one of the panels: the fact that A.I. is very much marvelling and worrying people at the same time. When I say people I’m not referring only to mere mortals not involved with tech and innovation, but also scientists and experts.

A.I. , Machine Learning and Robotics dominated a good part of the panels this year as subjects and it’s very exciting to feel the speakers sharing their experiences and findings with the audience. In one of the panels, the tech guy involved with the development of Apple’s Siri decided to make a public statement to the audience saying out loud that he was surprised by what’s going on right now in his field and that he never expected to see the kind of high level of advancements technology is achieving in his life time. He said that in the last 8 years or so, the learning curve became exponential. The point right now among the experts is not if A.I. is or will be a practical reality or not. It will be for sure. But on the other hand, the discussion has been what kind of A.I. we will be creating and what kind of impact-good or bad-it will bring to mankind. Many of the conference titles reflect that uncertainty: “Regulating A.I.:How to Control the Unexplainable”, or “The future of machine learning: worth the hype?”, or “Who takes the wheel on self-driving car safety?”, or “Will A.I. change the future of Creativity?”. If even Stephen Hawking has his doubts, who should not have them, right?

So, it’s a general feeling that if machines are going to learn, we need to learn a lot and fast about what we want to get from the machines and specially what we don’t want to get from them.

Human ethics, values and purpose were some of the concepts that the experts understand as important components to be infused in the machine “intelligence” so machines won’t pose a threat for humans in their way to inevitable “sentience” (as in “The Sentient Machine” book from Amir Husain). That’s when that panel started to discuss the real concept of the word “intelligence” and how different is natural intelligence (human) and artificial intelligence (machine). So much so, that they should not share the same word for defining their applications. For me it’s all a matter of finding out while walking the path and there will surely be falls on the way ahead.

But A.I. and machine learning is an inevitable reality simply because it’s our very next evolutionary step and while we can always stop for a moment and think before taking that step, it’s impossible for us as a species to remain standing still in the face of everything we foresee as positive lying ahead. That’s our essence as humans.

Technology, A.I. and the kind of change and disruption they bring to business and life is too big to be ignored or avoided. So, its better to start understanding it, accepting it and finding out how to bring its benefits to life and business.

At least that’s what I’m doing myself right now and right here.

 

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