AI: Our New Best Friend

The fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution is here. If change is led by the right people, we will have ethical machines, says Intel's Lama Nachman.

  • We're entering the fourth wave of the Industrial Revolution, says Genevieve Bell, cultural anthropologist and fellow at Intel. You can chart humanity's progress through four disruptive stages: Steam engine, electricity, computers, and now AI.
  • AI is already all around us, but what will it look like at scale? What will life be like when "suddenly all the objects around us are capable of action without us directing them?" asks Bell. Will fully scaled AI be a boon or an existential threat to humanity?
  • Speaking at The Nantucket Project, Lama Nachman, director of Intel's Anticipator Computing Lab, affirms her optimism. "My belief is that, really, ethical people and ethical researchers are the ones who are going to build ethical machines."
Keep reading Show less

Will robots free people from slavery?

Even if automation makes human trafficking economically inefficient, that alone won't end this unethical practice.

  • Robotic automation may one day make slavery economically inefficient, but automation does not spring forth fully formed.
  • An interim period of piecemeal coverage may leave many at-risk, low-skilled workers in danger of exploitation.
  • Nor can automation sate the political and social motives for slavery found in some societies.
Keep reading Show less

To overthrow a tyrant, try the 3.5 Percent Solution

A study of 323 uprisings against repressive regimes yields stunning insights.

  • No democracy movement has ever failed when it was able to mobilize at least 3.5 percent of the population to protest over a sustained period
  • At that scale, most soldiers have no desire to suppress protesters. Why? Because the crowd includes their family members, friends, coworkers, and neighbors.
  • With a population of 327 million, the U.S. would need to mobilize about 11.5 million people to assert popular, democratic power on the government. Could that happen?
Keep reading Show less

Academic freedom: What it is, what it isn’t and why there’s confusion

Academics are often attacked for having the audacity to pursue their research wherever it leads. But engaging with difficult, challenging ideas is a large part of what academia is about.

  • Academic expression is neither free expression nor political, though it is connected to both. Because of this misunderstanding, academic expression is often attacked, not because of the quality of scholars' ideas, but because of scholars' audacity in sharing them.
  • The Scholars at Risk network is working to ensure that academics of all stripes have the academic freedom they need to pursue their work. In this video, Robert Quinn stresses that this is not a left/right issue, nor is it something that's only happening halfway across the world, and he explains why it's so important to defend academic freedom.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
Keep reading Show less

Why top-down reform won't save the education system

Countless top-down reforms haven't improved the U.S. education system; can community-based education make a difference?

Getty Images
  • A new report from the RAND Corporation details another top-down initiative that failed to improve student achievement.
  • Community-based education reform creates coalitions of stakeholders to support lifelong learning.
  • Though barriers exist, such reform could synthesize the best of top-down and bottom-up reform.
Keep reading Show less