Thursday, November 09, 2017

Digital Intelligence Weekly by Kevin Benedict

Kevin Benedict's
Center for Digital Intelligence™
In this weekly report I collect, curate and comment on interesting topics related to emerging technologies and digital trends.  Enjoy!

Question: Why is 2017 a record year for retail stores in the USA?  Answer: A record 6,700 retail stores have already closed in the USA in 2017, and as many as 8,600 will close by the end of the year. Online stores are capturing more market share, and fast fashion is overturning traditional retail business models and supply chains. [KRB Comment] This is our fault.  We like to shop online. We like access to global inventories and next day shipping.  We like to be able to conveniently return products that don’t work for us.  We like personalized product offerings.  We like recommendations. We like lower prices.  We like shopping from our couches and beds.

Question: How do you dupe Americans out of more personal information without their knowledge and then sway an election?  Answer: Offer them a free personality test on Facebook, and then use that information to create psychographic data. Cambridge Analytica built psychological profiles of over 200 million Americans in part by using information they shared on social media.  For example, many Americans took personality quizzes spread by the firm on Facebook, which were designed to reveal how they score on measures of the so-called “big five” personality traits.  [KRB Comment] I am guilty of taking both personality tests and political leanings tests on Facebook.  I am now sure the results were ultimately combined to create a profile that could be used for nefarious purposes.  I don’t think this is what Mark Zuckerberg had in mind when he first programmed Facebook at Harvard.

Question:  How do you turn words into weapons and destroy your opponents for next to nothing?  Answer: Deploy automated and robotic “troll armies,” to disseminate pro-you news, generate false stories and coordinate swarm attacks on your critics. If someone is critical of you, unleash your automated trolls to create distractions and drown out opposing sentiment to confuse, blackmail, demoralize, subvert and paralyze your opponents.  [KRB Comment] Thanks social media!  We focus on securing our borders, while we open our mobile phones to our enemies.  Source: 

Question(s): Can a machine really teach itself through machine learning?  How long does it take a machine to reach superhuman intelligence?  Answer: Yes, after playing four million games against itself, the software, called AlphaGo Zero, reached superhuman performance. And it did that in less than a month, compared with the decade or two of training it takes for a human to become a highly skilled Go master. [KRB Comment] I want machines on my side.

Question: Will artificial intelligence add jobs or replace humans in the banking and financial services industry?  Answer: According to Management consultant Opimas LLC, AI will result in a cut of 230,000 workers at financial firms worldwide by 2025, with the hardest hit being 90,000 people in asset management.  Deutsche Bank AG CEO John Cryan and Citigroup Inc.'s former chief Vikram Pandit also believe routine banking jobs will be replaced by automation, algorithms and artificial intelligence.  We are now seeing the numbers come in from digital transformation efforts: National Australia Bank Ltd. will cut 4,000 jobs (12 percent of its workforce), in a shift toward digital banking, Sweden's Nordea Bank AB will lay off 6,000 workers, Mizuho Financial Group Inc. plans to eliminate 19,000 jobs (33% of its workforce), Commerzbank AG plans to scrap 9,600 jobs over the next four years.  [KRB Comment]  AI can shift jobs arounds, but if it replaces human jobs overall, a higher rate of unemployment will be detrimental to our economy and civil order.  We need humans to be employed in meaningful jobs or things can get ugly very fast.  We are restless creatures.

Question: How many people on planet earth have the necessary skills to develop the next generation of artificial intelligence?  In other words, how many people have guaranteed employment opportunities?  Answer: According to the New York Times,  there are only about 10,000 people in the world who have the necessary skills to build the complicated, mathematical algorithms necessary to create next-gen artificial intelligence.  This is far less than needed.  [KRB Comment] The rest of us have some studying to do.  This also means in order to qualify for the jobs of tomorrow, we must get far better at educating our youth on the skills they need for tomorrow.

Question: How do you discourage yourself from pursuing expensive and difficult studies in machine learning so you can be one of the 10,000 people with guaranteed jobs?  Answer:  Read up on the Google project AutoML.  AutoML, is a machine learning algorithm that learns to build other machine-learning algorithms.  [KRB Comment]  There goes the last 10,000 guaranteed jobs.

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Kevin Benedict
Principal Analyst, Futurist, the Center for Digital Intelligence™
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***Full Disclosure: These are my personal opinions. No company is silly enough to claim them. I work with and have worked with many of the companies mentioned in my articles.