Digital Digest - October 18, 2018

This week, for something completely different, we’d like to tackle the Artificial Intelligence (AI) revolution, what it means for us, and a few of the positives and negatives. Firstly it is important to acknowledge that AI often conjures up images of The Terminator or The Matrix. This scenario is unlikely for several reasons, the most pre-eminent being that it is very expensive to design robots that deal with the physics of our world. This is especially true when you can instead design programs that deal with the online space exclusively. As it turns out, the online space is a far more likely place for AI to thrive and it is already doing so in many of our day to day interactions. In addition, in many professions previously thought un-automatiable, AI has shown new prowess. In the medical field it already participates in the diagnosis of patients, and in a very real way, is saving lives in ways humans wouldn’t have done without it. This prompts the question: What are we doing to be ready for the augmented world that is coming? This is an interesting article in that vein discussing a profession that would seem to be one of the hardest for AI to penetrate, human psychology. However, as stated in the article, “Smartphones and wearable sensors offer people the ability to monitor themselves and to benefit from the way deep learning can analyze the data. Indeed, these techniques are already being used to detect the changes in mood that indicate bipolar disorder or to detect people at risk of depression.” In a very real way, technology and knowledge of it, is becoming an element in psychology as it is increasingly in every profession. While this is still nascent currently, by the time our students enter the field, it will likely be much more mainstream. This already has some fantastic outcomes such as this autism simulator (scroll down to the demo videos) that can be used to help us understand and empathise with someone else's point of view. Combine this experience with AR/VR systems and it can allow students to walk in their fellow autistic peers shoes in circumstances similar to what they physically experience. The power of this to me is self evident. However there is also the other extreme. In this video AI is being tested by some schools, like this one in China to improve focus and performance. What is striking in this video, is that the result is the logical outcome of the school’s values. In this circumstance, the highest value is put on compliance and attainment, and so it is realized and amplified by the technology above all else. As we move into this new era as a community, this choice of what we value drives home the continuing need for us to establish and re-establish what we believe in and have it actively play a role in our expectations of how technology is used. It is only through this proactive development oriented thinking that we will get the digital community that we want.