Monday, September 30, 2019

AI might be the new electricity

Aron Culotta

 Someday you might have a significant relationship with your toaster. With a few silicon chips and the right programming, it’ll use its considerable downtime to compose original musical interludes to play while your English muffin is browning. It’ll text you Haikus designed to make you smile:
Toasting your bagel
brings light to my elements
And warmth to my heart
      This change won’t happen by itself. Students are working hard to master the art and science of designing machines that learn, make decisions, create, think. Staring this fall, the Illinois Institute of Technology — in recent years branding itself as the more brawny “Illinois Tech” — became the only college in the Midwest to offer an undergraduate major in artificial intelligence, creating the systems that will guide everything from robots to trucks to medical care.
     ”Traditionally, AI would be taught at the graduate level, because it’s a research degree,” said Aron Culotta, director of IIT’s bachelor of science in artificial intelligence program. “Occasionally, you’ll see it as a specialization inside of a computer science degree. But really it’s matured a lot in the past 10 years. We feel like a lot of the core principles can be taught at the undergraduate level.”
Devyani Gauri
      The change was announced last spring after admission deadlines, so new students haven’t yet enrolled as AI majors. But 10 of the school’s 500 computer science students shifted to AI. One of them is Devyani Gauri, 20.
     ”I’m interested in deep learning and neural networks,” she said. “Deep learning is something that uses huge amounts of data and also uses neural networks — artificial networks based off how animals’ brains work, using that pattern to solve problems quickly.”

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  1. I just had to buy a new dishwasher and one of the options for some models is wi-fi equipped. I did not pay extra for that feature.

    1. Considering how much Mr. Creosote eats, a wi-fi dishwasher is an absolute necessity!

    2. I don't need a smarter dishwasher, I need a bigger one.

    3. I've had a fine relatonship with my Sunbeam toaster (made in Chicago) since father brought it home when I was six.

      As long as the bread goes down and comes up brown, that significant relationship will continue, in much the same fashion as it always has. No chips, no programming, no musical interludes, and no smiles. That's the way I like it (uh-huh, uh-huh). The relationship will last until one of us is...well...toast.

      If it dies before I do, my toaster's twin brother (or is it a sister?) will take its place on the kitchen counter. I bought the twin and stored it away because I knew that nothing lasts forever... although, after 66 years, it just seems like it.

      Meet the new old-school Sunbeam...same as the old old-school Sunbeam. And life will go on, as before. No bells, no whistles. Just an orange glow...and toast.

  2. I've got one beef with "AI," which derives from my general dislike for acronyms -- after I get half through a magazine article, I often have to scan through the whole damned thing to figure out what the initials stand for. But "AI" has the added inconvenience of looking like "AL," with a lower case "L." I know that by this time I should be used to "AI," but I'm not. Maybe (at least for me and those like me) "AC" or Artificial Consciousness would be better. Too late, you say? Right of course, just like the goddamned guns!


  3. The progress of AI will make some jobs, and even occupations obsolete. But resistance is futile. In the words of Alfred North Whitehead, "Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations we can perform without thinking about them."



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