What Use Humans?

In a world With Ultra Smart AI Based Bots, Are Humans Useful?

Not a day goes by that there isn’t yet another story discussing how an AI has bested a human in something – typically a game, which we all know are microcosms of the real world.

First chess, then Go a few months ago. Now the AI developers have set their sights on MMORPGs like World of Warcraft, with much more complex rules engines. Just the other day, a bot from OpenAI bested the best players in Dota 2, a multiplayer online battle area, where players, team up in teams of 5 to destroy the other teams Ancient (the center of the enemy base), a loose tower defense game – a bit like capture the flag. read more

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We Still Need Humans For Those Things Robots Can’t Do

There are still some things only humans can do

I remember visiting Yahoo! back in 1995, just before everything exploded here in Silicon Valley – I, along with a number of cable TV execs (we had come down from Toronto to meet with reps from @Home, Netscape and Yahoo! to get the lay of the land prior to launching our own cable internet service in Canada – think Xfinity. In the end we never met with Netscape, this being about a week before they went IPO and they ended up not having enough time for us) in our tight business suits and ties walked into the back of that industrial unit in Mountain View. I distinctly remember a few things from that meeting – how stodgy I felt in my suit and tie while everyone else was in ripped jeans and t-shirt (yep, even Jerry Yang, who we met with that day), when we walked in the first thing we saw was not a formal business reception desk, but someone in the lobby sitting at a workstation with a huge screen, surfing the internet. She was looking over links to add to Yahoo!, which at the time wasn’t even a search engine, but just a hand curated directory. She had a big dog lying across her lap and she was surfing away as we walked in. Someone met us in the lobby and escorted the 6 of us in stodgy suits and ties into a small conference room to the right. They told us to go to the kitchen if we wanted anything to drink and to help ourselves from the fridge there – I remember opening it and it was full of Jolt Cola and Twinkies (Jolt used to be the go-to drink for developers pulling all nighters – guess you could consider it the first energy drink – pre-Red Bull and Rock Star). Anyways, I had no idea where this was all going to go, but to us Canadian execs, used to corporate IT, it was a really different work environment from the one we were used to. (In retrospect, I should have probably asked Jerry for a job right then, but who knew, right?) We discussed creating the first non-US version of Yahoo!, Yahoo! Canada. Talks went well. read more

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Applauding Jobs Lost Through Automation

If You Lose Your Job To Automation, Find Another Job

For the last little while, I’ve talked a lot about the wonders of automation and robots. That in my vision of the seamless world, ambient computing, coupled with big data and predictive analytics, will make our lives very easy. But some have called me out on that – saying that this wonderful new wave of automation which I am talking about will cost jobs. That I can say all sorts of great things about the Ubers and the AirBnB’s of the world, but in the end, they cost jobs as opposed to creating them. They say that even though Uber seems to be creating opportunity and jobs right now, at some point in the future, they will probably fire all of their employees or contractors and move over to fully autonomous vehicles, therefore destroying thousands of jobs and putting all of these people out of work again. read more

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