Artificial Artificial Intelligence

The first episode of Slate’s new podcast, The Secret History of the Future, delves into artificial intelligence by first telling the story of the original Mechanical Turk. A 17th century Parisian machine that could play and beat most humans in chess.

No one could figure out how it worked. But that’s because it was driven by a hidden person.

Modern day AI isn’t much different. Turns out.

This’ll be a good one to subscribe to.

Deep Fakes Get Real Fake

Rob posted this on Facebook today:

My first reaction is that I should show this to my dad before he starts getting forwarded emails containing a video of Obama from an underground bunker in DC where he intends to stage a coup. Someone already sent him that email, un-ironically, but without a video. Add the video in and we may be flying under the BS radar of mainstream, intelligent people who might happen to lean a little bit to the right.

Here’s a video from the BBC talking about how this kind of thing is made:

At the end of it, the researcher mentions that once you know how to make one of these, you can then use technology to spot an edited video.

I do worry whether or not people will listen when they’re told they’re looking at a fake. Or when a real video is dismissed as fake.

“Listen, I know you think the FBI is dosing gun owners with LSD and conscripting them into UN drum circles, but a researcher named Dr. Fancy Pants at the University of Blue State ran a sophisticated algorithmic test on that video, and … wait … where are you going?”

Watch your step…there’s rough footing ahead.

Alibaba and Making Cities Revolve Around People

This article almost reads like a press release, but I like that Alibaba is always thinking big and thinking in terms of how to use technology to help connect people, stores, and in this case, cities, into smarter networks.

…the city of tomorrow should be able to adapt to its surroundings and inhabitants, almost like a living organism, so that municipal services like public transport, health care and education can be delivered in the right measure and time to minimise waste and optimise usage.

If you’ve ever been stopped at a red light, with no other cars in the same zipcode, it’s easy to see how this could make small incremental changes for the better. Alibaba already claims to have improved traffic speed by “up to 11%” in one city district by simply sending out instant traffic alerts and route suggestions to drivers.

But zooming out to a city-wide view, seeing the city not as chaos, but as an adaptable, interconnected system is something else entirely. Connecting people, automated vehicles, buildings, and other services together could bring about much larger changes that we might not yet even imagine.

Though it’s really easy to imagine the problems this might cause given bias built into systems by accident or by fiat.

Alibaba’s next moon shot is to make cities adapt to their human inhabitants, technology seer says