Monthly Archives: April 2019

Updates from ITU

AI for Good’ or scary AI?
By Neil Sahota and Michael Ashley – Some futurists fear Artificial Intelligence (AI), perhaps understandably. After all, AI appears in all kinds of menacing ways in popular culture, from the Terminator movie dynasty to homicidal HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Though these movies depict Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) gone awry, it’s important to note some leading tech scholars, such as George Gilder (author Life After Google), doubt humans will ever be able to generate the sentience we humans take for granted (AGI) in our machines.

As it turns out, the predominant fear the typical person actually holds about AI pertains to Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI).

Specialized, ANI focuses on narrow tasks, like routing you to your destination — or maybe one day driving you there.

Much of what we uncovered when cowriting our new book, Own the A.I. Revolution: Unlock Your Artificial Intelligence Strategy to Disrupt Your Competition, is that people fear narrow task-completing AIs will take their job.

“It’s no secret many people worry about this type of problem,” Irakli Beridze, who is a speaker at the upcoming AI For Good Global Summit and heads the Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics at the United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute, told us when interviewed for the book.

“One way or another, AI-induced unemployment is a risk we cannot dismiss out of hand. We regularly see reports predicting AI will wipe out 20 to 70 percent of jobs. And we’re not just talking about truck drivers and factory workers, but also accountants, lawyers, doctors, and other highly skilled professionals.” more>

Related>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Technology is splitting the job market
Some people are prospering, while others are left behind
By Raghuram Rajan – Soon, the smartphone may be replaced by a device implanted in our body that connects with our mind and provides instant access to both computing power and enormous databases. Computer-enhanced humans are no longer the realm of science fiction. The information and communications technology (ICT) revolution has fundamentally changed what we spend time on, how we interact with one another, what work we do and where we do it, and even how people commit crime.

Most importantly, it has upset the balance between the three pillars—the state, markets, and the community.

The ICT revolution has not just followed the course of previous revolutions by displacing jobs through automation; it has also made it possible to produce anywhere and sell anywhere to a greater degree than ever before. By unifying markets further, it has increased the degree of cross-border competition, first in manufacturing and now in services. Successful producers have been able to grow much larger by making where it is most efficient. This has created spectacular winners, but also many losers.

The technology-assisted market has had widely varying effects across productive sectors in a country. Some of the effects stem naturally from technological change, and some stem from the reactions of people and companies to it. Indisputably, it has raised the premium on human capabilities. As a result, some well-educated communities in big cities have prospered, while communities with moderately (typically high-school-) educated workers in semirural areas dominated by manufacturing often have not.

More generally, as with past technological revolutions, the need for people to adapt has come rapidly, before the benefits have spread widely. Indeed, the communities that are required to adapt the most, as always, are the communities that have been experiencing the greatest adversity, and have the least resources to cope. more>

Related>

Updates from Ciena

500G transpacific. Yep, we did that!
The news from SubOptic? Let’s start with our successful single-wavelength 500G field trial over a 9,000km transpacific cable. Ciena’s Brian Lavallee explains more about this milestone as well as other highlights from this important technical conference.
By Brian Lavallée – SubOptic 2019 has recently come to a close, and as the locals say, “laissez les bon temps rouler”, or let the good times roll – and they did.

We shared the news of a successful single-wavelength 500G field trial over a 9,000km transpacific cable, which was completed just before the event. Of course, this means we can also do 500G single-wavelength transmission across much shorter transatlantic distances too. The transpacific field trial leveraged our very latest WaveLogic 5 Extreme coherent optical technology, which truly takes our pioneering submarine networking solution,

GeoMesh Extreme, to the extreme. In just under a decade, we’ve leaped from 10G to 500G transpacific – a truly impressive feat.

How did we achieve such performance?

By leveraging advanced Digital Signal Processing (DSP) capabilities, 95Gbaud operation, Probabilistic Constellation Shaping (PCS), throughput-optimized FEC, and nonlinear mitigation techniques. more>

Related>

Updates from Datacenter.com

Planning a hybrid cloud implementation? Don’t forget the importance of the network
Almost every company is working on some form of cloud transformation, and we’ve noticed that almost everyone is pursuing a hybrid cloud strategy. Because hybrid sees a wide range of on-premise, hosted and cloud-based services side by side, it will only be cost-effective if you can establish reliable, secure connectivity between the various elements of your hybrid architecture.
datacenter.com – Today everything has to be on demand

The network is often forgotten because IT teams are planning hybrid cloud transformation projects. Without properly dimensioned legacy-to-public cloud connectivity, transformation projects can be compromised and run into serious customer experience problems.

“Transformation projects can be paralyzed without properly dimensioned legacy-to-public cloud connectivity”

This is why organizations are now trying to request and order on-demand capacity from the network as they need, reducing traditional constraints such as capex, delays at external suppliers and long project timelines.

From one to multiple networks

By connecting on demand, you can also adjust the bandwidth up or down to suit your project. For example, if you perform a major update on your cloud platform or your IT services go into production as quickly as they are built for the development and testing phase of your project you can adjust your bandwidth based on the (temporary) need.

“By connecting on-demand, you can also adjust the bandwidth up or down to your project” more>

Related>

Technology ethics campaigners offer plan to fight ‘human downgrading’

By Joseph Menn – Technology firms should do more to connect people in positive ways and steer away from trends that have tended to exploit human weaknesses, ethicists told a meeting of Silicon Valley leaders on Tuesday.

Tristan Harris and Aza Raskin are the co-founders of the nonprofit Center for Humane Technology and the ones who prompted Apple and Google to nudge phone users toward reducing their screen time.

Now they want companies and regulators to focus on reversing what they called “human downgrading,” which they see as at the root of a dozen worsening problems, by reconsidering the design and financial incentives of their systems.

Before a hand-picked crowd of about 300 technologists, philanthropists and others concerned with issues such as internet addiction, political polarization, and the spread of misinformation on the web, Harris said Silicon Valley was too focused on making computers surpass human strengths, rather than worrying about how they already exploit human weaknesses.

If that is not reversed, he said, “that could be the end of human agency,” or free will.

The big companies, Harris said, “can change the incentives.” more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Public disclosures help hold politicians accountable
By Rebecca Stropoli – A common problem in democracies is that, once elected, politicians may fail to address the needs of their constituents, especially the poorer ones. But is there a way to empower the electorate by holding officials accountable for their actions?

MIT’s Abhijit Banerjee and Harvard’s Nils Enevoldsen, Rohini Pande, and Michael Walton examined the effect that publicizing politicians’ records had on electoral results in the 2012 municipal elections in Delhi, India. They find that being issued public report cards caused politicians to shift their spending priorities.

With more than 18 million people, Delhi is the world’s second-largest city, behind Tokyo. Poor people living in slums form a significant share of the Delhi population. Slum dwellers, in fact, account for an electoral majority in many of the city’s 272 single-member wards, each of which elects a councilor to the municipal government every five years.

The anticipation of media reports did influence the policies of politicians representing poorer areas, the findings suggest. Councilors in high-slum wards whose report cards were published shifted their spending priorities to better match the needs of their constituents.

The “effective spending” on the needs of the poor by these councilors over two years increased by about $5,000 on average, or more than 13 percent, Enevoldsen says. more>

Related>

Updates from Ciena

Tomorrow’s cities: evolving from “smart” to Adaptive
Cities are going smart – trying to deal with the proliferation of people, sensors, automobiles and a range of devices that demand network access and generate mind-boggling amounts of data. However, being smart is not an instance in time, and a “smart city” is not static. To be worthy of the name, a smart city must continually evolve and stay ahead of demand. This is only possible if the city’s underlying network is just as smart and can adapt to its constantly changing environment.
By Daniele Loffreda – Cities are constantly in flux. Populations move in; populations move out. Demographics change, economic growth falls and then soars. New leadership steps in and—if you believe all the commercials—technology will make everyone’s life better.

Municipal governments understand the need to consider which smart city applications will best serve the demands of their diverse demographic segments. The City of Austin’s Head of Digital Transformation, Marni White, summed up these challenges stating, “Our problems will continue to change over time, so our solutions also need to change over time.”

The one constant in the smart city is the network running underneath these solutions—and the truly smart city has a network that adapts.

Smart city applications must be aligned with where a city and its citizens want to go. Some municipalities that created model smart-cities early on have had to initiate extensive revamping. For example, the City of Barcelona has long been at the cutting edge of using digital devices and the Internet of Things to improve municipal operations; however, in 2017, Mayor Ada Colau gave Barcelona’s CTO, Francesca Bria, a mandate to “rethink the smart city from the ground up.”

This meant shifting from a “technology-first” approach, centered on interconnected devices, to a “citizen-first” focus that responds to the changing needs that residents themselves help define. more>

Related>

Why the US bears the most responsibility for climate change, in one chart

By Umair Irfan – Humans are pumping more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at an accelerating rate. But climate change is a cumulative problem, a function of the total amount of greenhouse gases that have accumulated in the sky. Some of the heat-trapping gases in the air right now date back to the Industrial Revolution. And since that time, some countries have pumped out vastly more carbon dioxide than others.

The wonderful folks at Carbon Brief have put together a great visual of how different countries have contributed to climate change since 1750. The animation shows the cumulative carbon dioxide emissions of the top emitters and how they’ve changed over time.

What’s abundantly clear is that the United States of America is the all-time biggest, baddest greenhouse gas emitter on the planet.

That’s true, despite recent gains in energy efficiency and cuts in emissions. These relatively small steps now cannot offset more than a century of reckless emissions that have built up in the atmosphere. Much more drastic steps are now needed to slow climate change. And as the top cumulative emitter, the US bears a greater imperative for curbing its carbon dioxide output and a greater moral responsibility for the impacts of global warming.

Yet the United States is now the only country aiming to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. more>

Hate Speech on Social Media: Global Comparisons

Violence attributed to online hate speech has increased worldwide. Societies confronting the trend must deal with questions of free speech and censorship on widely used tech platforms.
By Zachary Laub – A mounting number of attacks on immigrants and other minorities has raised new concerns about the connection between inflammatory speech online and violent acts, as well as the role of corporations and the state in policing speech. Analysts say trends in hate crimes around the world echo changes in the political climate, and that social media can magnify discord. At their most extreme, rumors and invective disseminated online have contributed to violence ranging from lynchings to ethnic cleansing.

The same technology that allows social media to galvanize democracy activists can be used by hate groups seeking to organize and recruit. It also allows fringe sites, including peddlers of conspiracies, to reach audiences far broader than their core readership. Online platforms’ business models depend on maximizing reading or viewing times.

Since Facebook and similar platforms make their money by enabling advertisers to target audiences with extreme precision, it is in their interests to let people find the communities where they will spend the most time.

Users’ experiences online are mediated by algorithms designed to maximize their engagement, which often inadvertently promote extreme content.

Some web watchdog groups say YouTube’s autoplay function, in which the player, at the end of one video, tees up a related one, can be especially pernicious. The algorithm drives people to videos that promote conspiracy theories or are otherwise “divisive, misleading or false,” according to a Wall Street Journal investigative report.

“YouTube may be one of the most powerful radicalizing instruments of the 21st century,” writes sociologist Zeynep Tufekci. more>

Updates from Adobe

By Serena Fox – Laura Zalenga has come full circle. Known for her hauntingly ethereal and hyper-composed conceptual self-portraits, the German art and fashion photographer made a radical departure last year at the start of her tenure as an Adobe Creative Resident. She spent months exploring an opposite direction: completely natural, documentary-style photographs and interviews of elderly subjects for a project called The Beauty of Age.

Now, as her residency ends, Zalenga is returning to self-portraiture but finds herself changed, incorporating insights from the time she spent listening and capturing the stories of 80- and 90-year-olds.

Even people in the stone age, who were painting with charcoal on the walls, were already documenting themselves and their daily life. Painters from centuries ago used the first versions of mirrors that existed to try and draw a self-portrait of themselves. So the need to document ourselves is a fundamental one—the urge of people to show who they are is incredibly old and very deep.

One thing I do in my workshops is explain how different a selfie is from a self-portrait. Especially in today’s world, where selfies are everywhere and often viewed negatively, I think it’s important to recognize that self-portraiture is an art form, and always has been. more>

Related>