A robot umpire illuminates the future of AI

Continued">

In a minor league baseball game in the Atlantic League, a robot called balls and strikes this week. But there was still a home-plate umpire, and he was still essential. This is a nice metaphor for the future of AI-assisted work. As described in The New York Times, the system applies rules about the strike … Continued

“The Age of Intent” — a big idea book about Artificial Intelligence

Continued">

Two years ago, I got the opportunity to start work on a book about artificial intelligence. Today, you get to see the result. AI is one of the most powerful forces driving technology right now. Conversational interfaces — whether that’s online chat or Alexa — are another. Artificially intelligent chatbots, also known as virtual agents, … Continued

Facebook, AI, evil, and human creativity

Continued">

The intersection of human evil and Facebook algorithms has created the evil-amplifying social networks we now share. Facebook says AI can solve the problem. So far, it can’t. If it ever does, heaven help us. The New York Times published a revealing profile of Mike Schroepfer, Facebook’s CTO. He’s the man whom Mark Zuckerberg has … Continued

Can AI write good articles?

Continued">

I asked an artificial intelligence to write an article. It wasn’t very good, but it wasn’t completely awful, either. If you’re a writer, machines are nipping at your heels; it’s time to work on your creativity. Machines have been writing articles for years — but only in formulaic settings. For example, you won’t be shocked … Continued

What is machine learning? A psychedelic graphical journey

Continued">

You must always treat the reader’s time as more valuable than your own. That’s the Iron Imperative, and it’s just as valid for graphics as it is for text. If you find yourself endlessly fiddling with with an elaborate diagram, ask yourself, “Is this really helping?” Then get help from a decent graphic artist. When … Continued

Some questions about the President’s American Artificial Intelligence Initiative

Continued">

President Trump announced the “American AI initiative” with an executive order. Like many such presidential pronouncements (and not just from Trump), it’s somehow both blustery and mushy. Let’s take it apart and see if it makes sense. In what follows, commentary is mine. Passages in bold italic are passive voice, weasel words, or other notably … Continued

A Knewton critique: Why computers shouldn’t teach calculus (or anything else)

Continued">

Isi, my teenager, is a college student taking calculus. The teacher is assigning homework from Knewton, an online learning system. I’ve been helping with the homework. Now I can see why computers can’t teach college courses — and why tools like Knewton are not just destructive, they’re evil. The old way of teaching calculus worked … Continued

The Trump Administration’s take on Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Continued">

Over 100 government, academic, business, and technology leaders gathered at the White House recently to discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI). While there may have been intelligence in the room, very little was visible in the resulting document. The summary of the meeting is here. What is the government’s role in AI? While the government can help fund … Continued