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How to build AI without losing control over it


The TED talk of the week comes from neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris. We’re going to build superhuman machines, he says, but we haven’t yet grappled with the problems associated with creating something that may treat us the way we treat ants.

About Sam Harris
Sam Harris is the author of five New York Times bestsellers. His books cover a wide range of topics — neuroscience, moral philosophy, religion, spirituality, violence, human reasoning — but generally focus on how a growing understanding of ourselves and the world is changing our sense of how we should live.

Harris’s work has been published in more than 20 languages and has been discussed in the New York Times, Time, Scientific American, Nature, Newsweek, Rolling Stone and many other journals. He has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, The Economist, The Times (London), the Boston Globe, The Atlantic, The Annals of Neurology and elsewhere.

TED talk by David Autor


Every other Tuesday our team sits together to watch a TED Talk. Today we listened to professor David Autor. In this video, recorded at TEDxCambridge in September 2016, he addresses the question of why there are still so many jobs and comes up with a surprising, hopeful answer.

About David Autor
David Autos is one of the leading labor economists in the world and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is Professor of Economics and associate department head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Department of Economics. His best known research formally models and empirically analyzes how computerization substitutes for and complements human labor; asks how the rapid rise of import competition from China has reshaped U.S. manufacturing, upending the conventional economic wisdom that free trade is a free lunch; explores how the economic pressures of globalization are reshaping U.S. electoral politics; and conducts large-scale randomized experiments that test whether generous financial aid grants improve the odds of college completion and long-run economic security of students from low income families.

TED talk by Tim Leberecht


Every other Tuesday our team sits together to watch a TED Talk. Today we listened to Tim Leberecht. In this video, recorded at the TED Summit in 2016, he gives tips on how to build a human company in the age of machines.

About Tim Leberecht
Now running strategy consulting firm Leberecht & Partners, Tim was previously the chief marketing officer at NBBJ, a global design and architecture firm, and at Frog Design. He also co-founded the “15 Toasts” dinner series that creates safe spaces for people to have conversations on difficult topics.

TED talk by Fei Fei Li


Every other Tuesday our team sits together to watch a TED Talk. Today we listened to Fei Fei Ling. In this video, recorded at the TED conference in 2015, she describes the state of the art — including the database of 15 million photos her team built to “teach” a computer to understand pictures — and the key insights yet to come.

About Fei Fei Li
Using algorithms built on machine learning methods such as neural network models, the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab led by Fei-Fei Li has created software capable of recognizing scenes in still photographs — and accurately describe them using natural language.

Li’s work with neural networks and computer vision (with Stanford’s Vision Lab) marks a significant step forward for AI research, and could lead to applications ranging from more intuitive image searches to robots able to make autonomous decisions in unfamiliar situations. Fei-Fei was honored as one of Foreign Policy’s 2015 Global Thinkers.

TED talk by Rana el Kaliouby


It’s time for another December edition of TED Talks Tuesday. Today we give the floor to Rana el Kaliouby. At the TEDWomen conference in May 2015 she demonstrated a powerful new technology that reads your facial expressions and matches them to corresponding emotions. This “emotion engine” has big implications, she says, and could change not just how we interact with machines — but with each other.

About Rana el Kaliouby
As chief science officer and co-founder of Affectiva, an MIT Media Lab spin-off, Rana is on a mission to bring emotion intelligence to our digital experiences. She leads the company’s emotion analytics team, which is responsible for developing emotion-sensing algorithms and mining the world’s largest emotion data database. So far, they’ve collected 12 billion emotion data points from 2.9 million face videos from volunteers in 75 countries. The company’s platform is used by many Fortune Global 100 companies to measure consumer engagement, and is pioneering emotion-enabled digital apps for enterprise, entertainment, video communication and online education.

TED talk by Nick Bostrom


Every other Tuesday our team sits together to watch a TED Talk. Today we listened to Nick Bostrom. In this video, recorded at the TED conference in 2015, he asks us to think hard about the world we’re building right now, driven by thinking machines. Will our smart machines help to preserve humanity and our values — or will they have values of their own?

About Nick Bostrom
Since 2005 philosopher Nick Bostrom has led the Future of Humanity Institute, a research group of mathematicians, philosophers and scientists at Oxford University tasked with investigating the big picture for the human condition and its future. He has been referred to as one of the most important thinkers of our age. His recent book Superintelligence advances the ominous idea that “the first ultraintelligent machine is the last invention that man need ever make.”