News — At The Edge — 10/14

There are three articles and a video this week — two articles from the future and an article and video dogging the present.

  • Issues from the Futureend of banking and rise of crypto-currencies, and the need for explainable artificial intelligence — highlight the magnitude of change ahead for civilization.
  • Issues dogging the Present — mixing local news with partisanship, and it is both the greatest and worst time to be alive — shows how, despite the benefits of technology, life and the world has become exceedingly disorienting.

In the context of the present, there four articles of mine that might be of interest to you:

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Issues from the Future

IMF Head Foresees the End of Banking and the Triumph of Cryptocurrency -

“Managing Director of [IMF]…[says] cryptocurrency…could displace central banks, conventional banking, and challenge the monopoly of national monies…[and] chastised her colleagues for failing to embrace the future…because they provide their own unit of account and payment systems….

[For] countries with weak institutions and unstable national currencies…[or] adopting the currency of another country — such as the U.S. dollar — some [will]…see a growing use of virtual currencies. Call it dollarization 2.0….

[Why?] Because it may one day be easier and safer than obtaining paper bills [and]…could actually become more stable….Issuance could be fully transparent, governed by a credible, pre-defined rule, an algorithm that can be monitored…or even a ‘smart rule’ that might reflect changing macroeconomic circumstances.

[So] virtual currencies might just give existing currencies and monetary policy a run for their money….[Many] citizens may one day prefer virtual currencies, since they potentially offer the same cost and convenience as cash — no settlement risks, no clearing delays, no central registration, no intermediary to check accounts and identities….

One possibility is the break-up, or unbundling, of banking services. In the future, we might keep minimal balances for payment services on electronic wallets. The remaining balances…in mutual funds, or invested in peer-to-peer lending platforms….

This is a world of six-month product development cycles and constant updates…with a huge premium on simple user-interfaces and trusted security…[and] without imposing branch offices.” https://fee.org/articles/imf-head-predicts-the-end-of-banking-and-the-triumph-of-cryptocurrency/

We need to overcome AI’s inherent human bias

“[It’s] a misconception that AI is objective because it relies on mathematical computations; the construction of an AI system is [a]…human-driven process…[that] will contain bias…[because] the heart of AI is not the algorithm, but the human manipulating it….

[Any] seemingly small choice in an AI algorithm can produce very different results….Developing a principled and documented approach to…data analytics, understanding the strengths and limitations of such approaches and educating the workforce on their application in a standardized manner would go a long way in helping companies in such endeavors….

Given a large data set, an AI algorithm can reveal some relationship that’s either not recognizable by a human, such as a tumor…or that cannot be recognized as quickly by a human, like a pending collision in a car.

But AI can also be extremely brittle…[and]can fail spectacularly….[In] speech recognition [we]…know with high certainty whether an outcome is correct, the same cannot be said for AI applications attempting to estimate human decision-making.

Algorithms are created by engineers…who determine how to initialize various statistical parameters, which can be somewhat arbitrary, and then tune or adjust them to a specific data set to achieve the desired outcome….These, often subjective, parameters can lead to a brittleness…causing them to fail under unforeseen conditions….

One often overlooked source of AI bias is humans interpreting the results of algorithms…and, because of this interdependence, it is often very difficult to reconstruct why an AI system performed in a particular way, which hides any bias that may have been added by the human interpreter layers before.

Attempting to explain the results as well as the possible limitations of the solution space is very difficult….[Thus] a new field called explainable AI is emerging…[and] establishing new requirements…[that] value the holistic AI system (human decision maker + algorithm)….[It’s] imperative that we find a way to communicate when and where an AI-enabled system could fail so that we can develop resilient systems instead of brittle ones.” https://medium.com/world-economic-forum/we-need-to-overcome-ais-inherent-human-bias-97f658726d73

Issues dogging the Present

How Sinclair Broadcasting puts a partisan tilt on local news (9 min. video)

The largest owner of local TV stations, reaching over a third of homes across the nation, wants to get even bigger by merging with the Tribune Media Company. But Sinclair is raising concerns among media watchers because of its practice of combining news with partisan political opinion. http://www.pbs.org/video/3005541698/

2017: It’s the greatest time to be alive and simultaneously the worst -

  • IT’S THE AGE OF THE INDIVIDUAL…[and] your obligation to establish your status…in a world of competing identities no one stands out, and when someone does, you wonder why you can’t be them…[yet] there are great swaths of people who are unaware of your hero, seemingly no one dominates, there’s no backbone to our culture….
  • MASTERY IS IMPOSSIBLE You used to know every album…every movie. Now there’s so much it’s incomprehensible….
  • POSSESSIONS HAVE LOST THEIR MEANING….Used to be you were defined by what you owned…[now] want to own little and have everything on demand….If you’re rooted to your big home and your fancy car you’re over the hill. Especially when they release a new version of everything soon….
  • ONLINE STATISTICS ARE FAKED….
  • EVERYONE CHEATS….Truth is for pussies [and]…the person standing up for the truth is more interested in the personal accolades than the cause.
  • YOU’VE GOT TO SERVE SOMEBODY….Bob Dylan had it right….
  • IF YOU’RE NOT WORKING ON YOUR STATUS, YOU’RE LOSING IT You’ve got to be in front of the public every damn day or you’re forgotten. Take a couple of years off… and good luck coming back.
  • LIFE IS SPORTS There are two teams, right and left, it’s totally tribal….
  • GROUPTHINK IS PARAMOUNT You don’t want to go against the crowd…[and] be ostracized. A nuanced appraisal which shows the situation is complicated just sets you up for hatred…. The scourge of our society is silence. It’s not the law that’s got us shutting up, but peer pressure.
  • FORGIVENESS IS RARE Commit a faux pas and you’re history….
  • THE ELITES HAVE CONTEMPT FOR THE POOR AND HAVE NO IDEA HOW THEY LIVE THEIR LIVES….[Now] everywhere we go people are talking about what we don’t know and we feel powerless to effect change and all we keep reading is about titans who triumphed who say it was easy leaving out how aggressive they were and what corners they cut. So the irony is those complaining the loudest are the problem…..

We cannot separate the wheat from the chaff….So, it’s the greatest time to be alive and simultaneously the worst….But you’re lacking meaning in life…left with yourself…being told you don’t matter….

How did we get here? One thing’s for sure, we’re never going back….[Luddites] think if they yell loud enough the past will come back, but it won’t. And the tech titans lack moral responsibility. So it really does come down to you, and humanity….

We are in a personal crisis. A moral crisis. We’re unsure how to lead our lives. We want someone to make sense of it all, to point us where to go, so we can be part of the universe…. We’ve got the bounty, but we’re empty inside.” https://www.recode.net/2017/10/9/16446056/bob-lefsetz-2017-fame-culture-status

Find more of my ideas on Medium at, A Passion to Evolve.

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May you live long and prosper!
Doc Huston

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Doc Huston

Consultant & Speaker on future nexus of technology-economics-politics, PhD Nested System Evolution, MA Alternative Futures, Patent Holder — dochuston1@gmail.com