If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
Hillary Clinton has warned that the US is "totally unprepared" for the economic and societal effects of artificial intelligence. Speaking to radio host Hugh Hewitt this week in an interview promoting her recent book, the former Secretary of State said the world was "racing headfirst into a new era of artificial intelligence" that would affect "how we live, how we think, [and] how we relate to each other." In a short segment near the end of the interview, Clinton told Hewitt: "A lot of really smart people, you know, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, a lot of really smart people are sounding an alarm that we're not hearing. And their alarm is artificial intelligence is not our friend." Clinton then mentioned two specific areas of impact: digital surveillance (when "everything we know and everything we say and everything we write is, you know, recorded somewhere") and job automation.
As self-driving cars come closer to being common on American roads, much of the rhetoric promoting them has to do with safety. About 40,000 people die on U.S. roads every year, and driver errors are linked to more than 90 percent of crashes. But many of the biggest advocates of autonomous vehicles aren't car companies looking to improve the safety of their existing products. Huge backing for self-driving technologies is coming from Silicon Valley giants like Google and Apple. Those of us who have studied the relationship between technology and society tend to look more carefully at the motivations behind any technological push.
The disasters that former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick left in his wake at his popular ride-hailing app company was one of this year's biggest tech industry stories. Now, as we wrap up the year, Uber (through a court case) has gifted us a letter detailing many of the company's alleged wrongdoings and spy tactics. The so-called Jacobs letter was written by an attorney representing Richard Jacobs, a former Uber security analyst. It alleges shady and potential illegal operations, including how Uber employees monitored the competition and acquired trade secrets. SEE ALSO: Uber's new CEO says he banned employees from using secure messaging apps for Uber business The letter is among the evidence in the trial between Uber and Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving car division.
Today, after three weeks of legal hemming and hawing, the Northern District of California finally made public a potentially key piece of evidence in the rollicking, roiling, rolling trade secrets lawsuit between self-driving Alphabet spinoff Waymo and ridehailing company Uber. That evidence is the Jacobs Letter, a 37-page rundown of truly outrageous allegations about Uber's business practices, put to paper by the lawyer for former Uber employee Ric Jacobs. Originally sent to Uber's lawyers as part of a dispute between the company and Jacobs, it's now at the center of Uber's legal fight with Waymo. And while the letter's contents most definitely have not been proven true, they include some tremendous new assertions: that former Uber CEO Travis Kalanick himself directed trade theft; that the company employed spies to trail competitors' executives; that it illegally recorded a call with employees about sexual assault allegations; and that it used a meme-filled slideshow to teach employees how to hide implicating documents from nosy lawyers. In February, Waymo sued Uber for trade secret theft.
In recent years, the smartphones, bots, and devices we spend so much of our time with could be accused of contributing to the desensitization of our society. When a fight breaks out, some teens' first reaction is to pull out their phones and take a video, rather than call for help. We can yell mean things at our Amazon Alexa device without any consequences. These are just a few examples. In 2018 and beyond, this will change.
Whether they drive themselves or improve the safety of their driver, tomorrow's vehicles will be defined by software. However, it won't be written by developers but by processing data. To prepare for that future, the transportation industry is integrating AI car computers into cars, trucks and shuttles and training them using deep learning in the data center. A benefit of such a software-defined system is that it's capable of handling a wide range of automated driving -- from Level 2 to Level 5. Speaking in Tokyo at the last stop on NVIDIA's seven-city GPU Technology Conference world tour, NVIDIA founder and CEO Jensen Huang demonstrated how the NVIDIA DRIVE platform provides this scalable architecture for autonomous driving. "The future is surely a software defined car," said Huang.
Former Indy car racer Sam Schmidt has a million-dollar car that allows him to do something that people said he would never be able to do again – drive on his own. But he still can't wait for fully autonomous vehicles to arrive. Not for driving on the track, where he feels fully safe manoeuvring his modified 2016 Corvette Stingray by using special gears created for quadriplegics. Rather, Schmidt says he needs the safety features found in autonomous cars to face the intimidating streets of Las Vegas, where he lives. "I don't feel comfortable on the street," says Schmidt, who lost the use of his four limbs in a 2000 crash on a racetrack in Orlando.
I'm driving the multimillion-dollar Symbioz EV concept on a highway in France when Renault-Nissan Senior VP Ogi Redzik hands me an Oculus VR headset. Do you see an image yet?" he asks me. Ahh, yes, now I see it," I reply nervously. A minute ago I was on a real road, but now I'm rolling down a fake forested highway in a simulation created by Ubisoft. Meanwhile, Renault's Level 4 autonomous system has taken the piloting chores (with a professional, joystick-equipped driver backing it up in the passenger seat).
Rather than focus on finding jobs in the gaps left by machines, individuals and organizations would be smart to prepare themselves to adapt to a changing digital business environment. Digital technologies are poised to disrupt how work is done. Consider the popular example of the impending arrival of autonomous vehicles. When self-driving vehicles are mainstream -- within the next decade or two (or less) -- the impact on work in the United States alone will be massive. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.5 million people in the U.S. are commercial truck drivers, 800,000 work as delivery drivers, and another 1 million people make a living as other types of transportation professionals -- including bus drivers, taxi drivers, and Uber drivers.
I often feel Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still directionless although we do see a lot of Work In Progress (WIP). AI in transportation is not just about autonomous aircrafts, cars, trucks and trains. There is much more that can be done with AI. Recently IBM helped to create an app that would use Watson Visual Recognition to inform travelers about congestion on London bus routes. In India, the state transport corporation of Kolkata took a technological leap by deploying artificial intelligence to analyze commuter behavior, sentiment, suggestions and commute pattern.