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Gideon Rosenblatt
Grounding Machines in Humanity
Grounding Machines in Humanity

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When we consider the future of knowledge, we must consider whether something like knowledge can exist without a human mind to grasp it.

My latest...

#knowledge #AI

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Automating the data farming -- of farming. DNA phenotyping by robots in the field.

"One of the big advances of the last few years is that we can now determine the complete DNA blueprint of each plant. But how do we use that? What we need is to be able to describe a plant as it grows. You could do that perhaps with an army of people, but now the robot can do all of that for you. We can combine the phenotypic information about how the plant's performing with the genetic blueprint and identify the combination of genes we need to get the best plant possible," Long said.

HT +David Fuchs​.

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Using Artificial Intelligence to Curb Toxic Behavior

Looks like Alphabet's subsidiary, Jigsaw, is developing machine-learning based solutions for fighting toxic commentary. It makes me wonder whether we'll be seeing these tools deployed here on G+.

Remember years back when it looked like Google+ might make its commenting engine available more broadly to third party sites? I used it on my WordPress site, until the plugin I used (Comments Evolved) broke and hasn't been repaired by its developer. I don't get the sense that the G+ team is focused there anymore, but having integration with this Perspective tool might be pretty compelling. Instead though, it looks like it's just being implemented as an API.

Here's more background on the bigger, "Conversation AI" project. It bills itself as a collaborative research effort exploring machine learning as a tool for better discussions online.

Also, for anyone who's into using AI to combat toxic behavior, you might be interested in this piece I did on Riot Games and their innovative work in this area:

Thanks to +David Amerland for finding this. 
Can Machine Learning Take on Online Trolls?

Google is betting on machine learning to make the fight against online toxic comments easier. Rather than adopt a person-led rules-based approach which has failed spectacularly at Facebook when it comes to content: - Google is using the machine learning algorithm's capacity for adaptation and constant refinement to provide a handy aid for the human operators of websites.

You can check out Perspective here: and if you're a developer you can learn all about the APi here:

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Keep an eye on Microsoft, and in particular, how they integrate machine learning into Office. I've got a feeling we're going to see some really interesting advances on this front in the next few years.

This is an interesting quote from CEO, Satya Nadella:

Calling AI "the third run time", Nadella said, "If the operating system was the first run time, the second run time you could say was the browser, and the third run time can actually be the agent. Because in some sense, the agent knows you, your work context, and knows the work. And that's how we are building Cortana. We are giving it a really natural language understanding."

HT to +David Amerland. 
Microsoft's Focus on AI

Satya Nadella's take on Cortana and the impact of artificial intelligence in consumers is really interesting and pretty much spot on. Agents will be transformational. For further context on the subject read this: 

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+Leland LeCuyer shares some of his own insights around the already interesting story of the Kraft Heinz failed takeover of Unilever and the clash of cultures it would have entailed. 
Two Models Of Capitalism
I just ran into this article on Forbes and immediately thought of this community. +Julian Birkinshaw examines why the proposed merger of Kraft Heinz with Unilever was withdrawn. He sees it as not only a clash between widely different and possibly irreconcilable business cultures, but a between two distinct models of business. Kraft Heinz is a relentless cost-cutting, profit-maximizing machine aiming to enrich its shareholders; Unilever “exemplifies the view of a corporation as a force for good in society.”

Birkinshaw became all mushy at the end, arguing we need “a balanced diet” of capitalism — namely that there’s a need for both ruthless efficiency and social benefit. However, contrary to what Birkinshaw appears to be advocating here, these two visions of business cannot exist separately without inflicting terrible harm upon society and the earth itself. A company can be ruthlessly efficient at manufacturing disaster. Indeed the standard model of shareholder sovereignty has proven to be a recipe for precisely that, as evidenced not only by the usual suspects — tobacco and oil companies — but even in businesses that one would expect to provide socially beneficial services — food companies and hospitals. Too often the impulse to generate profit leads to decisions which undermine the very mission that the firm purportedly was established to fulfill.

I am more inclined to agree with Peter Drucker who claimed business enterprises “do not exist for their own sake, but to fulfill a specific social purpose and to satisfy a specific need of a society, a community, or individuals.” History supports Drucker’s observation, because long before shareholder supremacy became codified into law, all corporate charters required a specific goal and the corporation would dissolve upon fulfillment of that goal. Open-ended corporate charters, not to mention corporate “personhood” were not established until the railroad.

But I’m preaching to the converted. What about the other side of Birkinshaw's thesis?

I can lay claim to the title of "World’s Worst Businessman,” thus I attest from experience that engaging to do good in the world also demands discipline — even (or especially) fiscal discipline. Being broke harbors a strange tendency to limit the good that one can do. It goes without saying that a modicum of ruthlessness is required even in the pursuit of good.

So permit me to channel someone who is widely regarded as a better businessman than me — Steve Jobs — and add “one last thing”: Even the most bottom-line oriented capitalist enterprise like Kraft succeeds at doing some good. At the very least it makes money for its investors. The problem isn't whether or not it does some good; instead the problem is who benefits and the corollary who gets harmed. The problem with the bottom line is that it has been too narrowly defined.

Similarly, corporations like Unilever that strive to benefit society may be accused of defining their mission too broadly. How exactly does a firm benefit society? All of society? Like all things, there must be tradeoffs: benefits and harms. A good business seeks to benefit others in addition to themselves. It also seeks to mitigate whatever harm it induces. These are not easy things to do or to measure. P&L balance sheets do not exist to hold an entity to account for the impact it has upon the world.

In the end a business or an individual may only do so much. Like my grandmother taught, try to leave the world a little better than before.

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Understanding a Third Pillar to Trump

In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:
1) Generally older people who naively believe Trump will “make America great again”, that is to say, return it to its 1950s ideal evoked by both Trump and Clinton.
2) The 1 percent, who know this promise is empty, but also know it will be beneficial to short term business interests.
3) Younger members of the 99 percent, like Anon, who also know this promise is empty, but who support Trump as a defiant expression of despair.

This is a long, but very worthwhile read. I feel like I just got a glimpse into the history of 4chan, Anonymous, and GamerGate and some insight into Trump's allure among young, white males.

The first half is retrospective, a history that is fascinating. Reading this part, I felt like a light bulb suddenly went off, explaining certain types of interactions I've had with people on reddit, YouTube as well as here on Google+. If, like me, you don't know the 4chan world, this article really is a must-read.

The second half of this piece is more psychological analysis, and I'm just not sure how accurate it is. I'm not saying it's inaccurate -- just that I don't know enough to judge. If true, however, it does suggest that there might be some paths for dealing with this group that are more productive than we've got right now.

#4chan #anonymous 

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Existential Choice

I was just re-reading a book (Michael Polanyi's "The Tacit Dimension"), and the author refers a few times to the notion of "existential choice." Having only a vague remembrance of what that was, I looked it up, and found this great, short video explanation. 

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Photos, Permanence and Personal History

This author discovered the power of Google Photos and it got him thinking about how it is shifting the market for online photos away from ephemerality:

The experience convinced me that the next generation of big personal data coupled with AI and a smart product will shift the aggregate value equation for photos back toward permanence. We are on the cusp of bringing photos as meaningful history back into style.

What that means is that the next battleground between companies like Facebook, Snap and Google won’t be over access to just shared photos, but over what value can be provided from a person’s photo history.

I have to agree. Over the holidays, I bought my wife two photo frames that connect to Google Photos. We had a frame like that before, but not one that connected to Google or other services. You had to load shot onto a little USB drive, which meant that, for us at least, they pretty much just stayed the same for four years or so.

Now, by hooking up these frames to different albums on Google Photos, we get some really interesting variety. For Valentines for example, I did a search for photos of just my wife and me, put them in a dedicated album, threw in another new pic with me with a sign saying "Happy Valentines!" and it was a great little surprise sitting next to her desk. Since getting these new photo frames, we are reliving memories in a way that is qualitatively different. It's pretty cool.


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After the printing press, memory became less critical to knowledge. And knowledge became more widely dispersed as the reliance on memory being required for interpretation and understanding diminished. And with that, the collective power of the human mind was multiplied.

HT +John Verdon​, who is always sharing interesting stuff...

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In the category of what not to do. Things sound pretty bad at Uber. Can't say I'm surprised. The company just kinda has that feel to it...
This is absolute CRAZY - Lots of people apparently are deleting uber over it
Doesn't surprise me though, you are either skinny and get hit on, or fat and get told you are a fat lesbian a lot of the time, especially if you have an opinion!
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