Quartz’s new app has come half way in reinventing news

You probably have heard about Quartz’s new innovative iPhone app. Over the past days, the news about it was all over the Internet. It’s too early to conclude whether this app will turn out to be a hit among users. The texting-styled user experience is definitely innovative and fits very well to this year’s hype topic, conversational interfaces. However, in the end, the possibilities to interact with the news items are pretty limited, which can quickly lead to boredom.

But that does not need to remain like this. In fact, Quartz has come half way in changing the distribution and presentation of digital news for good. What’s missing? The text field in which readers can write their questions, comments and requests and through which they can access all the information and knowledge they desire about a specific piece of news. Such a field would require what’s usually labeled “artificial intelligence”, but the absence of that does not surprise. Creating a personal news bot that is capable of interacting with users around news and that understands their remarks and inquiries was, until recently, pretty close to rocket science. And it’s still hard.

Thanks the recent advancements in regards to deep learning and artificial intelligence as well as to initiatives that plan to open source the underlying algorithms, maybe very soon the creation of conversational smart bots which natively “understand” the information they serve will become much easier. But we are not there yet, which means that from Quartz’s perspective it made sense to start with something simple. Continue Reading

Collective intelligence vs collective stupidity

2015 has been quite an intense year. Tension and polarization seems to be increasing wherever you look.

Meanwhile, scientists and computer engineers are closer than ever to create artificial intelligence. As soon as smart machines will receive the skill to “think” and self-improve (the already legendary moment of “Singularity“), they inevitably have to become very judgmental about the various idiocies that characterize the way humans life together and deal with each others problems.

Experts in this field certainly do not agree about when Singularity might happen and if it ever does. But ruling this out as an option would be ignorant, considering how far information technology has advanced already.

Humans have achieved incredible things. Yet, there is proof everywhere that humans still lack a lot. Just look at the news. Too often, the desire for short-term rewards, group think and cognitive biases are impacting actions and thinking in very destructive ways. Continue Reading

For humans, seeing Artificial Intelligence as a threat is a quick way out of an uncomfortable situation

Robot

I finally found the time to watch Transcendence, a movie from last year that illustrates how artificial intelligence (AI) could become a threat to humanity. Considering the low rating my expectations were not high. And indeed I was not impressed. What could have been an influential contribution to the important debate about the moral, ethical and existential consequences of AI became a superficial and exaggerated Hollywood production picturing the fight of “the good” (humans) against “the bad” (the machine).

This questionable flick aside, lately the rise of intelligent machines and the impact on humanity has become a topic of wide public discussions anyway, dividing computer scientists and other experts into two camps: Those who are predominantly excited about the possibilities, and those who emphasize the potential threats of AI. The latter sentiment is also widespread among regular people. The idea of the intelligent, autonomous machine as a potential threat is popular and obviously being fueled by movies such as Transcendence. Continue Reading