The Rise and Rise of Artificial Intelligence

artificial intelligence

John Eldrege said Men want a battle to fight, an adventure to live, and a beauty to rescue. A woman wants to be romanced. She wants to be an essential part of a great adventure. Combine these elements in a dramatic arc on a big screen and you have a blockbuster. Add alien invasion or imminent destruction of planet earth to the mix to gross millions.

I enjoy movies because of their entertainment value and their ability to bring storytelling alive with sound and cinematography. Beyond these, movies unveil trends or make them more mainstream by relaxing our sensibilities. Since I don’t follow technology news, I first saw a touchscreen computer in a movie. Cool, but far-fetched, I thought. Years later, when touchscreens became the rave, I thought, aha!

The super-natural fascinates us. By this, I mean the union of man and something otherworldly think batman, superman, or vampires; as if we are tired of the limitations our human bodies impose on us. Movies have also explored the outcome of our creations like robots, in everyday life. These robots increasingly simulate human behavior (make rational decisions from data and have emotional intelligence), including natural language and voice recognition.

This week, Microsoft introduced Tay, an Artificial Intelligence (AI), chat robot to Twitter. Tay was designed to speak like a teenage girl. Only a day after she went live, Microsoft took Tay offline because she transformed to an evil Hitler-loving, incestual sex-promoting, ‘Bush did 9/11’-proclaiming robot. This was a case of garbage in, garbage out. Tay’s responses are learned by the conversations she has with real humans online – and real humans like to say weird stuff online and enjoy hijacking corporate attempts at PR.

The saga reminded me of a movie Benn recommended last year, Ex Machina, a sci-fi thriller. Ex Machina examines the relationship between Caleb, a programmer and Ava, a female humanoid robot. Nathan, Caleb’s boss, wants Caleb to test Ava’s superior AI; her ability to persuade him she is human. The adventure thrills Caleb; he falls for the beautiful and vulnerable Ava and battles to rescue her from slavery to Nathan.

The movie and its ending made for good conversation. Friends and I discussed robotics in general and ethical considerations in the development and use of AI, especially sex robots.

When someone mentioned the resistance to the Industrial Revolution, I shared how a multinational firm in Nigeria faced resistance from its staff when it decided to automate its operations years ago. The staff went berserk. They eyed members of the IT team and labelled them, ‘the people who are coming for our jobs.’

Referring to the sex scene between Nathan and another female humanoid in Ex Machina, a girl in the group said, “I hope they’re not coming for our jobs.”

We laughed. Then were quiet.

Robots are an invention subject to the whims of their human creators. How far is too far? Movies seem to ask: can we fall in love with robots? We want machines to make life easy for us not replace us. We want to be an essential part of a great adventure, not excluded from it.

Finally, I found my voice and said, “I hope not.”

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Advertisements

Mass Media in the Internet Age

social-media-550767_640

People who “proudly” state that they aren’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, or any social media platform, baffle me. I told someone statistics show that one in five couples meet online and she retorted that Facebook was the leading cause of divorce today, so she and her husband had deleted their accounts. I explained that people have been unfaithful since time began and the marketplace had simply changed. If Facebook were a country, it would be the largest country in the world by population, but she shook her head.

When it comes to social media, I maintain that the rules of engagement are still being written and should continue to be written. A gun in the hands of a soldier inspires confidence that our country is being protected. The same gun in the hands of a teenager walking down the street, inspires fear. I was social media shy once, then I started blogging. I now embrace social media and by extension the internet.

In the fifteenth century, Johannes Gutenberg invented a printing press system that aided the rapid mechanization of bookmaking and led to mass production of books. The implications for mass media were astounding.

According to Wikipedia, “the relatively unrestricted circulation of information and (revolutionary) ideas transcended borders, captured the masses in the Reformation and threatened the power of political and religious authorities; the sharp increase in literacy broke the monopoly of the literate elite on education and learning and bolstered the emerging middle class. Across Europe, the increasing cultural self-awareness of its peoples led to the rise of proto-nationalism …”

Sound familiar? Yes! The Arab Spring, various hashtag advocacies e.g. #bringbackourgirls, viral videos, the Occupy movement, etc.

Some say the advent of the internet and prevalence of social media is similar to Gutenberg’s work, which democratized knowledge and laid the material basis for the modern knowledge-based economy. The internet is rightly called the information super highway.

We’re living in exciting times for anyone, yes, anyone who has something to say. Social media provides an accessible platform to disseminate information and make possible bilateral intimacy, where audiences can engage with producers of content.

Not everyone is delighted with this development or taking advantage of it. A video producer grudgingly pointed out that the cutthroat business of producing videos has been made harder by social media because people and companies can upload videos made with their cell phones on YouTube. The same could be said for writers who compete with free content online. However, when trends shift, smart people look for new opportunities or create them.

I’m increasingly convinced that someday in the distant future, paper books, CDs, and DVDs will become antiques, displayed in museums and purchased in vintage stores, with articles in Wikipedia written about the history of them. These articles will be read, listened to, or watched on devices that support online content, think tablets and the Apple watch. Don’t believe me? Maybe it won’t happen in my life time, but history is on my side.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

 

Blogging 109 … Word Travel: combating prejudice 

travel

Mark Twain’s quote from his book, The Innocents Abroad, rings true.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.

My travels overseas have shown me how little people know about Nigeria and the African continent and revealed my prejudice and penchant for stereotypes. If you never travel and watch only one TV channel, you may conclude that Europe is awash with refugees, America with gun violence, the Middle East with terrorism, and Africa with war, poverty, and disease.

But hopping on a plane, train, or bus and going miles and miles away from home can be expensive. However, we’re not limited by budget if we can read. Literacy and internet access provide cheaper alternatives to confront narrow-mindedness.

Like most of my friends, I remember travelling to faraway places as a girl through the books I read. The writers stimulated our senses as we journeyed with them, so we were familiar not only with the sights, sounds, and smells of places, but also with their peoples and culture. We lived in Mallory Towers and were Famous Five detectives.

What we enjoyed was a kind of unilateral intimacy. But now, the internet has not only made content readily available, but also fostered greater connection. In his book, Platform, Get Noticed in a Noisy World, Michael Hyatt says that social media has taken connection to a whole new level. It makes possible bilateral intimacy—engagement. This means our virtual travel experiences are richer since we can confront a writer’s bias as well as ours in conversation. We can also give feedback and receive more insight from the contributions of others.

To me, one of the coolest things about blogging is the opportunity to travel—to journey along with readers to their worlds in the comments they leave behind. Every time I write, even on a subject I’m an authority on, I learn from the myriad perspectives readers bring. Sometimes I pour my jumbled thoughts down just waiting for readers’ comments to make sense of my thoughts.

It’s difficult to approach most topics with an ‘empty’ mind because our minds are usually already ‘full’. But if we’re willing to engage, we’ll see that we don’t have to agree with another viewpoint, sometimes all that’s needed is, “Oh, I see where you’re coming from; I’ve never walked that road before.”

Blogging has made travel—broad, wholesome, charitable (and uncharitable), views of men and things, possible for me.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

 

Photo credit: https://pixabay.com/en/sign-places-travel-information-429419/

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Drawing the Line

relationships

I once had a client, a man with lofty ideas and limited resources, whose business was pertinent to the success of mine.

In those days, a Lagos bus conductor who did not have adequate change for his customers, would ‘join’ two or three passengers together by giving one of them the total value of their change.

At their stop, he would explain to them, in between soliciting new passengers and calling out the names of the bus stops ahead, that he did not have enough change. Then he would give one passenger a single Naira note, which represented all of their change, as the bus driver rode away. We understood that as far as change went, our fate was sealed with that passenger and we had to find a way to split the change.

I have walked away from this arrangement—the huddling, the debate, the shadowing the ‘lead’ passenger as he perambulates in search of change, so we would not be duped twice—without my change because time was more important to me than it was to the others.

I felt as though my client was the passenger with our change but this time, the stakes were too high for me to up and leave.

I shared my worries with a friend.

“Get close to his wife. She will make things easier for you,” Ronke said.

I knew what she meant and I recoiled at her words. My client’s wife was a woman with a smile for everyone. Petite and pretty, she remained mum if she happened to be around as her husband and I discussed business, but I was aware that her intelligent eyes took in everything. It seemed cavalier, predatory even, to befriend this angel for the sole purpose of using her to influence her husband as we did not seem to have anything in common.

I endured my client’s belligerence and failed promises, promises he made after I made presentations and shared proposals. At my wit’s end, one night I sat in Ronke’s car for hours and itemized the problems I faced. She suggested, yet again that I make friends with his wife.

Soon after, a chance meeting with my client’s wife occurred. After pleasantries, she lowered her voice although we were alone and told me about a similar project they were undertaking with another publisher. In her words, the wahala nor get end. Sensing an opening, I took the ball she’d passed to me, but I did not run to the goal post. I dribbled until all obstacles were cleared and then passed her the ball to take a clean shot to goal.

“Ah ah men!” she exclaimed, “They don’t understand. Leave it to me. Here,” she handed me her business card, “if you have any issues, give me a call.”

I collected her card without looking at it.

“I’m serious,” she said, stopping me with her intelligent eyes. “Timi, if you have any problems, call me.”

I never had to call her. My client gave me my change and then some.

I’ve wondered about this incident and what I call my moral high horse. I guess because I have been used as a stepping stone in business, I did not want to bathe someone else with gifts and attention and then slam the door not minding if her fingers were trapped in the hinges or not.

But isn’t that what we all do? When we were younger, my siblings and I chose the favourite child, the one whose requests were hardly turned down, as an emissary to our parents. I sometimes attend social events with colleagues, when I’d much rather stay at home in my pajamas, to influence outcomes in the office. Relationships grease the wheels of business and human interaction is fueled more by trust than logic. We trust referrals from those we know.

My client’s wife and I never became chummy. We didn’t share enough common ground and we could not commit the time needed to explore what little commonalities we might have had. I see her once a long while and respond to her smile, the one she has for everyone, without guilt, but with warmth. And I sleep easy at night.

 

©Timi Yeseibo 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.