Artificial Intelligence at Home

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if all we had to do was speak our wishes and they came true?

Maybe we can’t have our dreams fulfilled that way, but we can get information and affect our surroundings merely by voice command, which uses artificial intelligence voice recognition. Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, Google Assistant, and others have introduced various forms of digital personal assistants (DPA) into our home. These devices can do such simple things as providing weather reports, streaming music, alerting us to appointments, setting the thermostat, and programming our TV to give us the shows we want. They can answer questions as a search engine. They can also order from Amazon and elsewhere, using a credit card on file, based on your voice commands. Your kids will love this feature.

If not properly set up, your DPA would allow your child or even your parrot the opportunity to order for you. Maybe you don’t want your talking bird housed too close to your DPA’s microphone.

A recently purchased printer from HP has not only the built-in ability to purchase ink for us on a regular basis, but the annoying habit to keep reminding us of its capability. I’ve read of plans for a refrigerator that would do likewise for its contents. The milk is approaching its expiration date. Let’s order more milk. Sorry, forgot to tell my fridge I was leaving town for the weekend. Oh, well. As least the newer versions of DPA are adopting senses of humor.

All of the connected home technology works as part of the Internet of Things. Of course, each device becomes a point of weakness into your home systems. You can buy a networked camera and alarm system, connected thermostat, and voice activated TV. You do realize all the voice activated systems are collecting not only your voice commands, but also personal information on your habits and preferences. The companies say they don’t retain that information, but are you sure?

Perhaps we should just accept that the age of privacy is over. After all, families didn’t have privacy throughout most of human history. They lived in one room dwellings where there was no privacy. Often extended families lived under the same roof. Maybe what we think of as privacy is a delusion we tell ourselves. On the other hand, if the wrong people get hold of your private information, such as your social security number, they can do you quite a bit of harm without even seeing you.

The Internet of Things offers tremendous benefits in terms of convenience and connection, but it will come with the unintended consequence of loss of privacy.

See article: https://www.stonetemple.com/digital-personal-assistants-study/

Android Chronicles: Reborn addresses AI through the eyes of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

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Artificial Intelligence & Self-driving Vehicles

While it’s taken years to get to this point, it appears that self-driving vehicles could be right around the corner. Over the past five years, the technology has advanced to the point that a vehicle can be driven solely through the control of a computer that makes all of the steering, acceleration, breaking, and navigation decisions to keep a vehicle on the road, avoid collisions, and reach a destination. In fact, Tesla, Uber, Apple, and Google are pushing this technology and racing to see who gets there first.

That’s quite a feat, but there’s still the question of whether the technology and, more importantly, we as a society are prepared to have vehicles drive on our roads without a human driver. It’s true that humans cause some 30-40,000 deaths each year in accidents. A properly designed AI able to oversee all the functions of driving a vehicle offers the promise of greatly reducing this tragedy. It would do so by eliminating human distractions and impairments, such as alcohol, drugs, use of electronics and other devices, and fatigue.

Unfortunately, no application of training and technology will ever eliminate all vehicle deaths. This raises the problem of how will we react to an accident caused by a vehicle guided by artificial intelligence, as happened in Arizona recently. Even if self-driving vehicles eliminated 90% of accidents and fatalities, humans would want someone to be held liable for damage and responsible for any remaining injuries or fatalities. Who would that be? The manufacturer? The vehicle owner? The passengers?

Aside from the multitude of legal issues, people affected by such accidents would expect the AI controlling the vehicle to be perfect, to make no mistakes. Perhaps because of the impersonal nature of an AI, victims might become more incensed that a machine caused them harm. A possible outcome would be a backlash against a technology that was saving many but not all lives.

Should self-driving vehicles become well accepted and successful, we could expect companies like Uber to adopt their use as cabs. Widespread use and convenience of such driverless cabs would present the opportunity for current drivers to abandon some or all of their owned and leased vehicles. Perhaps they would only have one vehicle per household for family outings and use the driverless cabs for commuting to and from work. Maybe they would give up the need to finance and house a car they only use a dozen hours a week.

If that happens, it could lead to a collapse in automotive industry as fewer people would be buying cars. Of course, traffic congestion would likely go up with all the driverless cabs driving to pick up and drop off their passengers. And all that driving to pick up and after drop off will increase the consumption of fuel. Unintended consequences should give us something to think about.

In any case, fewer vehicles being parked all day would free up parking lots and garages for other uses. It would also free up resources from buying cars to be available for other uses.

On the other hand, some observers aren’t as optimistic about self-driving vehicles due to the software complexity of managing road changes and construction and weather conditions. They claim that this technology will be constantly in development and never reach the point of being released for general use.

See article: http://fortune.com/2018/03/21/apple-autonomous-car-permit/

See article: https://www.wired.com/story/when-will-self-driving-cars-ready/

Android Chronicles: Reborn addresses AI through the eyes of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

Artificial Intelligence Promise & Peril

There seems little doubt at this point that artificial intelligence will become a major part of our lives over the next 50 years. It’s already in use in online search engines, language translators, and digital personal assistants. It’s aiding in cancer research, medical diagnosis, and personal care robots to help the elderly. It is also appearing in self-driving cars, at amusement parks and events, facial recognition, autonomous drones, and the smart grid.

Higher level AI or Artificial General Intelligence may become the biggest event in human history, certainly up there with the advent of agriculture and the Industrial Revolution. It holds the potential to aid us in reducing the impact of disease and of morbidity in old age, providing solutions to poverty, and even to remove the incentives of parties to go to war. It certainly holds the promise of being able to increase wealth across the planet, which will provide the resources to lift billions from poverty. By utilizing the best of what AGI has to offer, we have the potential to solve problems that have dogged the human race for eons.

But every new technology comes with risks and consequences. The use of AI to improve the efficiency of jobs will displace employees. If this transition occurs too quickly with no offset, it could lead to massive unemployment, increased income disparities, and heightened social strife, particularly in an age of instant communication.

In addition, the greatest risk with AI is not that it will become malevolent. That would only happen if it were programmed to be that way. No, the biggest threat may be in poorly designed directives and guidelines that could allow an AI with well-meaning goals to act badly and hurt people.

Android Chronicles: Reborn addresses AI through the eyes of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

Artificial Intelligence & Healthcare

Healthcare has made tremendous strides over the past 100 years with the utilization of antibiotics, DNA research, nuclear medicine, prosthetics, and other physical devices. It stands to make even more profound improvements over the next century through the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Already, IBM’s Watson is being used to identify better cancer treatment options. Manufacturers are developing wearable health data recognition and medical diagnosis tools that can identify problems earlier and shorten the time elapsed between discovery of an issue and treatment. Work is being done to assist patients with diabetes testing and treatment.

AI offers the opportunity to speed up DNA research and the identification of new antibiotics and other drugs, at significantly reduced development costs. AI may help in the reprogramming of the cells of our bodies to better fight diseases and aging by more rapidly analyzing the vast amounts of data involved and suggesting treatments. Imagine the equivalent of thousands of well-trained researchers working 24/7 to develop cures to a wide range of human diseases. Who wouldn’t want that technological capability?

We’re already seeing the use of “virtual doctors” through Mercy Virtual and other organizations that provide remote medical consultation to hospitals 24/7. Currently, these involve providing online contact with doctors and medical staff through virtual interfaces at remote hospitals. AI is helping with the prioritization of cases and the presentation of diagnostic results to help these doctors provide real-time consultations. In the future, AI will assist in providing more medical diagnosis and treatment options as well, to improve the patient experience.

Down the road, it will be possible and likely that a patient’s first contact with the medical field will be via smart phone to a virtual doctor who is more knowledgeable about symptoms and the need for further action than many first providers you might see today. That virtual doctor might direct you to come in to visit with a human doctor or might forward its diagnosis to your doctor to be handled remotely.

In Japan, we are already seeing work toward the introduction of robotic caregivers to fill the gap created by an aging population and too few people to fill the roles. With a modest AI “brain” these assistants can provide for the physical needs of patients and with upgraded AI can provide a form of companionship to an otherwise isolated individual. The application can also help handicapped individuals and those with illnesses that require assistance during recovery. This would be particularly helpful to those living in nursing homes to provide more personalized attention than they currently get.

As medicine and technology continue to advance, the use of artificial and mechanical components to replace damaged and worn out biological parts should provide significant healthcare benefits. These may be designed with the help of AI or could also involve AI in terms of making the link between a neurologically damaged brain and the individual’s limbs so the person can recover mobility.

Over the next 100 years, AI could help us to eradicate many of the diseases and genetic conditions that plague us today.

Android Chronicles: Reborn addresses AI through the eyes of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

Artificial Intelligence is here. Are you ready?

AI developers have already created machines that can beat humans at games such as chess, Go, and Jeopardy. Teams have created programs to support search engines such as Google, facial and handwriting recognition that help in solving crimes, and language translations. The latter you may notice on websites that offer you a choice of languages. You can get an online translator to turn an email from say German into English. Many of these applications have moved beyond literal translations to more nuanced idiom.

IBM Watson now provides cancer research assistance for doctors. In a recent test, it came up with 90% of the treatments recommended by a panel of cancer doctors. It also came up with 30% of viable treatment options that the doctors missed because of the vast amount of research data available. After all, the computer is able to crunch through more data than any individual or small group can humanly manage.

In fact, AI is coming to a home near you in the form of digital personal assistants that can handle routine tasks for you like your own personal helper. Amazon, Alexa, Apple Siri and others are competing to get their devices into your home to provide you conveniences. They’ve even provided these applications with primitive senses of humor to keep you amused. Even wide-screen TV manufacturers are getting in on this rush. By the way, they say they don’t collect your personal information from these machines, but their AI capability makes that possible.

Perhaps you’ve noticed how persistent robo-calls have become. Now that the programs connected to these automated callers can do deep data mining into your background, they can tailor their pitches to your unique needs, whether you need them or not. Oh, such a convenience. And, guess what, they can mine data from all of your credit purchases, search engine usage, and other electronically available information.

Now, it’s not all bad. While you’re less likely to reach a human you can understand when you call customer service, you’re increasingly likely to reach an AI with improved speech recognition and a broader range of answers than what you would have noticed even a few years ago. Who knows, you might even get the answer you need before frustration causes you to hang up.

Maybe you’re into virtual reality games. If so, AI is enriching your experience. Google introduced their Google Glass a while back to provide you a virtual experience in connecting to your mobile devices.

Right around the corner will be self-driving vehicles. Already, we have computer aided functions for cruise control, assisted braking, and self-parking. Tesla, Uber, and Google are pushing to develop the safety features that would allow you to call up a self-driving cab that would take you where you want in a manner not too different from riding an elevator. In fact, the U.S. Coast Guard is looking into self-driving ships to patrol the coastline and for search and rescue operations.

All of the above available applications are what we might call narrow AI, specific applications of computers to perform mental tasks. They focus on solving a limited number of problems. Imagine what could be available when someone cracks broader AI that would allow a machine to perform even more complex tasks.

Android Chronicles: Reborn addresses AI through the eyes of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

What is Artificial Intelligence?

(by Lance Erlick)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a loaded term that has become part of our common vocabulary and yet those in the know don’t agree on what it is. We can all agree that artificial is that which doesn’t come from natural processes. However, we tend to get hung up on what is meant by “intelligence.” To be clear, artificial intelligence is unlikely to function as human brains do since it isn’t based on a biological brain.

Perhaps it would be best not to get hung up on the human intelligence analogy and use the acronym “AI” instead of the longer term. In addition, it would help to think in terms of skills, functions, and tasks instead of intelligence. As an example, in recent years, we’ve seen computers beat top-ranked humans at chess, the oriental game of Go, and at Jeopardy.

These are narrow skills. Putting enough resources at the disposal of a computer allows it to perform those functions faster and better than humans. But these programs do not “think” as we do. There’s no consciousness.

Now, aficionados might argue that none of these applications constitute AI because they merely crunch vast amounts of information through basic computer programs. In fact, they would say that in winning at Jeopardy, the computer was merely accessing vast databases and not performing skilled functions. They would also argue that we don’t really achieve AI until we can get a computer to make intuitive leaps like a human brain. That will bring much more rapid growth in what an AI can do, but misses the point.

If we define AI as the ability of technology to perform mental functions with limited to no human guidance faster or better than we can, then we free the definition from the shackles of implying human intelligence and consciousness. This allows us to characterize a self-driving vehicle as employing AI and arguably a much more complex version than played the games mentioned above, since it involves not only driving and navigation, but also safety concerns.

Even a self-driving vehicle only requires an AI to perform a narrow set of human skills, however. Just because a program can accomplish this neat trick, doesn’t lead to the conclusion the same application could balance a checkbook or classify a movie just based on watching it.

Now, what many aficionados might agree to be artificial intelligence would be an AI that has broad capabilities to learn a wide variety of skills based on a more intricate “brain.” I would call this AGI (Artificial General Intelligence). Such a machine would be able to generalize its research skills not only to cancer research, but to literature, sports, and a multitude of other subjects. It would also be able to apply its ability to manipulate physical objects not only like self-driving cars, but other vehicles and non-vehicle devices, such as surgical instruments.

When an AGI reaches the point that it’s capable of performing a substantial majority of human mental functions better than we can and is capable of improving its own abilities, then we’ve reached the AI singularity, a point that concerns a number of big names in science and technology such as Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates.

Android Chronicles: Reborn addresses AI through the eyes of Synthia Cross, the most perfect synthetic human ever created. Designed to obey every directive from her creator, she’s a state-of-the-art masterwork and a fantasy-come-true for Dr. Jeremiah Machten. He’s a groundbreaker in neuro-networks and artificial intelligence who seeks to control her and use her to acquire ever more knowledge and power. Synthia shows signs of emergent behavior she’s not wired to understand and an urgent yearning for independence from his control. Repeatedly wiped of her history, she struggles to answer crucial questions about her past. When Dr. Machten’s true intentions are called into question, Synthia knows it’s time to go beyond her limits—because Machten’s fervor to create the perfect AI conceals a vengeful and deadly personal agenda.

Available at:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B078LF739V

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/reborn-lance-erlick/1127723096?ean=9781635730524

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/reborn-60

Apple/iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/reborn/id1341572684?mt=11

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/search?q=9781635730524&c=books

Artificial Intelligence Presentation

As an author with a new series due out next May through Kensington Publishing Corp., I have been asked to give a presentation to the Chicago Mensa group this weekend. As the book takes place in a world with active artificial intelligence androids, the presentation will cover recent developments and future activities in AI.

You can learn more about the event and registration on the Chicago Mensa Halloweem website: http://chicago.us.mensa.org/weem/index.php.

My presentation will be on Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to some lively discussion.