Artificial Intelligence


According to the man who’s made a mess of Twitter, we’re approaching the time when no one will need to work.

Artificial intelligence will do it all.

Tell that to a care-home assistant, or a nurse at the sharp end.

There are several things we’d tag as AI. But, are they?

Voice assistants… Alexa, Siri and so-on. Really, natural language processing.

It’s been around for a while. Developed here, in 1997. Dragon Software, first shunned by the NHS. Now in use in three quarters of US hosptials.

For about £700 you can use it to dictate medical notes… but you’ll need a health professional to use it.

It’s clever but it ain’t AI.

Autonomous vehicles. Available as a £6k extra with a top of the range Tesla.

It’s GPS and sensors and won’t be driving ambulances any time soon.

It’s clever but it ain’t AI.

Healthcare diagnostics. An image from a patient, or a sample, is compared to a data base of images known to be cancerous, or a virus or some-such.

The bigger the comparative data-base the more accurate the diagnosis.

Image pattern recognition in breast cancer started in the early ‘80s… and has got more accurate.

Clever but not AI.

E-commerce. It’s what Amazon does. Content recommendation.

When you buy something it remembers and contacts you to see if you want to buy it again, or something to go with it… just a big data base and an algorithm…

…which is a set of step-by-step procedures or a list of rules to follow for completing a task or solving a problem.

They’ve been around since the 9th century. A recipe for baking a cake is an algorithm…

… and the workflow of Amazon’s searching is an ‘algorithm’.

It’s clever but…

…. finally, the granddaddy of it all, Google.

Just a very big data base… very clever.

Improvements in data processing and flexible storage in massive server warehouses, cleverly named ‘The Cloud’, accelerated capability and use…

… and the more we use this stuff, the more it retains and the more likely we are to get contacted, prompted or diagnosed.

‘Remembering’ is misdescribed as ‘learning’… machine learning.

I remember my 9x-table but I never learnt to calculate the ‘sum of the cubes’.

Confuse huge storage, algorithms, fast access with natural language responses and it looks like an intelligent machine.

Clever but really… a big filing cabinet.

Narrow AI, as the bobble hats call it… is designed for a specific or narrow set of tasks, like diagnosing breast cancer but lacks the general intelligence and versatility of humans.

Real AI, what the bobble hats are working towards… would have to posses human-like intelligence with all the nuance, self-awareness and consciousness we take for granted, to innovate and instigate new software to do and learn more… just as humans do.

This level of AI is still largely theoretical and has not been realised.

It’s called ‘singularity’, involves ‘large language models’ . Such is the acceleration in interest, it might arrive by 2050?

Is it a threat? Maybe? We can always unplug it!

What’s a threat? You could probably weaponise a feather duster and tickle someone to death.

Looking at the event at Bletchley Park, last week…

… I used my human-memory to recall an article in the Harvard Business Review, back in 2007…

…I used my intelligence and I dug-out the magazine with the the help of Google’s filing system(!).

There’s a very disturbing psychological disorder called Munchausen by proxy in which a care giver;

‘… exaggerates, fabricates, or induces illness in another person in order to get praise, for then helping the victim.’

The HBR article proposes, ‘Munchausen-in-the-Workplace’.

A three year study of team behaviour in more than 30 companies across industries, found managers who created problems, so they could be praised for heroically fixing them.

So, is Rishi Sunak’s heroic assemblage of the great and the good, to fight the ‘threat of AI’… a bit of political Munchausen?

Why is he disproportionately involved in leading the ‘battle’?

Well, we stopped thinking about;

• interest rates,
• the housing crisis,
• food poverty,
• the debacle in social care,
• Ukraine,
• the Middle East,
• NHS waiting times,
• crime and policing,
• the up-shot of Brexit,
• migration,
• flooded houses,
• education
• the cost of fuel
• and the pretty grubby behaviour of some of the Tory Party over the last week.

If it’s not Munchausen…

… it’s using the ‘machinery’ of government communication in a simple piece of …

… misdirection.

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Reproduced at by kind permission of Roy Lilley.