Tag: computing

Watching Watson emote with redundant robots

Saturday, 27 February, 2016 0 Comments

Hollywood has become rather fond of depicting robots and artificial intelligence as threats to humanity and that’s not good for the image of the computing industry. Too much dystopia and people might begin to fear the machines. Time, then, for a spot of conviviality where people interact with the technology that will soon be bossing business, and that’s why IBM will present two ads starring its Watson cognitive computing system during the Academy Awards show.

In this clip we see Star Wars actress Carrie Fisher leading a support group for outmoded robots upset at being replaced by newer technology. She invites Watson to help them confront their anxieties and he tells them he’s a computing system that works with humans. But the “traditional” robots say they’re not interested in working with people and opt for a coffee break instead. Humour is not an easy thing to do at the best of times and it’s especially difficult for humans to make robots funny.

#OscarsSoRobotic: The bots in the Watson clip will be live-tweeting during the Oscars.


Datafication

Wednesday, 24 April, 2013 0 Comments

In the May/June issue of Foreign Affairs, Kenneth Neil Cukier and Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger look at how big data is changing the way we think about the world. They coin the term “datafication” to describe the transformation of things into a numerically quantified format, which is key to the production of big data. Snippet:

“Datafication is not the same as digitization, which takes analog content — books, films, photographs — and converts it into digital information, a sequence of ones and zeros that computers can read. Datafication is a far broader activity: taking all aspects of life and turning them into data. Google’s augmented-reality glasses datafy the gaze. Twitter datafies stray thoughts. LinkedIn datafies professional networks.

Once we datafy things, we can transform their purpose and turn the information into new forms of value. For example, IBM was granted a U.S. patent in 2012 for ‘securing premises using surface-based computing technology’ — a technical way of describing a touch-sensitive floor covering, somewhat like a giant smartphone screen. Datafying the floor can open up all kinds of possibilities. The floor could be able to identify the objects on it, so that it might know to turn on lights in a room or open doors when a person entered. Moreover, it might identify individuals by their weight or by the way they stand and walk. It could tell if someone fell and did not get back up, an important feature for the elderly. Retailers could track the flow of customers through their stores.”

For a less-rosy view of all this, check out what Nassim N. Taleb has to say in Beware the Big Errors of Big Data. Bottom line: “I am not saying here that there is no information in big data. There is plenty of information. The problem — the central issue — is that the needle comes in an increasingly larger haystack.”