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'60 Leaders' is an initiative that brings together diverse views from global thought leaders on a series of topics – from innovation and artificial intelligence to social media and democracy. It is created and distributed on principles of open collaboration and knowledge sharing. Created by many, offered to all.

ABOUT 60 LEADERS

'60 Leaders on Artificial Intelligence' brings together unique insights on the topic of Artificial Intelligence - from the latest technical advances to ethical concerns and risks for humanity. The book is organized into 17 chapters - each addressing one question through multiple answers reflecting a variety of backgrounds and standpoints. Learn how AI is changing how businesses operate, how products are built, and how companies should adapt to the new reality. Understand the risks from AI and what should be done to protect individuals and humanity. View the leaders. 

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'60 Leaders on Innovation' is the book that brings together unique insights and ‘practical wisdom’ on innovation. The book is organized into 22 chapters, each presenting one question and multiple answers from 60 global leaders. Learn how innovative companies operate and how to adopt effective innovation strategies. Understand how innovation and experimentation methods blend with agile product development. Get insights from the experts on the role of the C-Suite for innovation. Discover ways that Innovation can help humanity solve big problems like climate change.

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What is the impact of AI on society and everyday life?

Eleanor Watson

Q.

It’s clear that AI is going to be 10-100x more influential in the 2020s than in the previous decade. Recent developments in ‘Transformers’ aka ‘Foundation Models’ or ‘Large Language Models’ are a tremendous step forward from Deep Learning. These new models can ingest a very broad range of data (spreadsheets, poetry, romance novels, industrial process monitoring, chat logs) and various types of data, such as text, audio, video, etc. They also have the capacity to solve thousands of different problems with one model, in comparison to Deep Learning systems which may be quite effective but only in a narrow range.

This new technology is also able to deal with abstract concepts in new ways. Simply by asking for something to be 'more polite' or 'less formal', these models can make an appropriate interpretation. This means that one can use everyday, natural language to specify generally what they want, and then refine it closer to perfection. For example, OpenAI's Codex system is being used to turn natural language into a working video game, in just a few minutes, with all of the associated code immediately ready to be compiled and shared.

Many aspects of programming and development are about to be significantly deskilled, or perhaps bifurcated. People will be creating in simple ways, and a smaller group of experts will be debugging the things that the AI system cannot handle. This wave of creativity will be as powerfully disruptive in the 2020s as the Graphical User Interface and desktop publishing have been in the 1990s.

In recent years we have moved towards a world of services that dematerialize many of our former objects such as media collections. Many new ventures have emerged that leverage the power of mobile internet to make it easier to rent objects for a short time. The covid crisis has obliged many people to cross the digital divide, who otherwise might not have bothered to do so. While this is bringing the world closer together in some ways, we must spare some concern for those who still didn’t manage to make the transition to the online world, and who may be increasingly excluded as a result.

The embrace of digital has consolidated even more power within the hands of Big Tech and the technocratic elite, whilst putting people at the mercy of our digital feudal lords who can exclude us on a whim. This has heightened the need for effective ethics for AI and other technologies that are increasingly entwined with our personal and professional lives.

Moreover, there are risks to consumers from the apparent convenience of our digital world. By no longer owning something, one becomes in essence a renter, and one can be removed at any time, with very little reason given or a chance to challenge such exclusion. If you own things, it’s very hard to be taken away from you simply because someone didn’t like the things you happened to say. Over time, I think that a desire for ownership will come back into fashion, especially as a status symbol in and of itself. “I am a freeborn individual, not a peasant on someone else’s fief.”

We also live in a culture of financialization, where stock price becomes the metric to optimize for, instead of actually making things that work and provide value to customers, and by extension things that support civilization as a whole. It’s clear that our economic world is built primarily for efficiency, and not resilience. There is very little slack in a just-in-time economy, and so when something inevitably goes wrong, the entire system can get gridlocked.

As governments and corporations, we should do more to prepare for inevitable setbacks that could destroy industries and cause widespread suffering. We should hold back from becoming overleveraged, and ensure that we have reserves and contingencies in place to deal with a world that is increasingly fast, chaotic, and challenging to respond to. Our strange world is only going to get weirder.

"Many aspects of software development will be significantly deskilled, or perhaps bifurcated. "

Eleanor ‘Nell’ Watson is an interdisciplinary researcher in emerging technologies such as machine vision and A.I. ethics. Her work primarily focuses on protecting human rights and putting ethics, safety, and the values of the human spirit into technologies such as Artificial Intelligence.

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Eleanor Watson

"Our strange world is only going to get weirder."

Tech Ethicist, Researcher, Reformer

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ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

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