Why Good AI Should Kick Your Assumptions in the Groin

AI is short for more than just 'Artificial Intelligence'. At this crucial stage in its design, we have to decide whether we want it to merely serve us, or to challenge and augment our many selves.

What if AI stood for 'Augmented Introspection' as well as 'Artificial Intelligence'? We've been given a precious do-over opportunity in this emergent time of AI technology, where we can choose to re-design our cities and our selves to align more closely with what we want those things to be. So -- what do we want it to be? Michael Schrage, MIT research fellow and innovation leader, thinks we need to push past the base-level notion of AI servants and assistants. What individuals need to succeed economically and personally are digital tools that can augment (or suppress) our selves — that's right, plural. Schrage's vision of AI is informed by theories of mind developed by cognitive scientists and behavioral economists like Daniel Kahneman, Marvin Minsky, Robert Kurzban and Jonathan Haidt. "According to empirical scientific research, there's no such thing as 'the self'. In fact the metaphor that many people use is that your mind is like a committee, and that depending upon time of day and your mood... One self or aspect of the self may dominate over another," says Schrage. So what aspect of yourself do you most want to enhance and what aspect of yourself do you want to mitigate? AI will help you do that. It will not, however, be a passive pushover that bends to your flaws: great AI, says Schrage, will "kick your assumptions in the groin." Take the example of an online book recommender. A truly intelligent and introspective tool will not just show you books that echo what you've read in the past, it will suggest books that are completely outside of your wheelhouse. It will not simply serve you, it will stretch your thinking. Michael Schrage's most recent book is The Innovator's Hypothesis: How Cheap Experiments Are Worth More Than Good Ideas.

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Google, Amazon, and Netflix Know Their Most Important Product Is You

Companies succeed when they invest in human capital, which used to just mean a company's employees. Today, it means investing in the company's customers as well.

The first industrial sociologist, Frenchman Frederic le Play, revolutionized business strategy by recognizing that the coal mine's most essential asset wasn't the raw material extracted from the mine, but the miner himself. Steve Jobs expressed a similar notion, though not exactly the same, when he said his favorite Apple product wasn't a piece of technology, but the team of people he worked to build.

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The U.S. Government Wants Apple to Unlock Its iPhone — so Do the World's Authoritarian Regimes

The real problem with bypassing the iPhone's security features is bigger than violating the privacy rights of Americans. It's coming to terms with how governments around the world would react.

In the dispute over whether Apple should be forced to unlock the San Bernardino shooter's iPhone, there is ultimately no satisfactory decision. Either law enforcement will be prevented from collecting essential information or a Pandora's Box will be opened, possibly allowing the world's harsher governments to collect their citizens' private data at will. The dilemma is captured by the famous legal phrase "hard cases make bad law."

Who Needs Voicemail Anymore? with Michael Schrage

Tech expert Michael Schrage calls voicemail "an anachronism" whose time has come and gone. Could e-mail be next?

Tech expert Michael Schrage calls voicemail "an anachronism" whose time has come and gone. Could e-mail be next? The author of The Innovator's Hypothesis explores different modes and styles of communication looking toward the future.