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CategoryBusiness and Finance

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Will the COVID-19 Pandemic Promote Mass Automation?

Caution! Robots don’t file for benefits but that’s not all we need to know about them

I understand the panic many business leaders experience as they try to stay solvent while customers evaporate. Panic, however, is a poor teacher: AI-based automation will not only not solve all their problems, it may very well add to them. AI is not a magic box into which we can stuff them and make them disappear.

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Star self-driving truck firm shuts; AI not safe enough soon enough

CEO Stefan Seltz-Axmacher is blunt about the cause: Machine learning “doesn’t live up to the hype”

Starsky Robotics was not just another startup overwhelmed by business realities. In 2019, it was named one of the world’s 100 most promising start-ups (CNBC) and one to watch by FreightWaves, a key trucking industry publication. But the AI breakthroughs did not appear.

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Panoramic aerial view of St Peter's square in Vatican, Rome Italy

Why Does the Vatican Need Microsoft?

Should the Church really partner with IBM and Microsoft to make pronouncements on tech regulation?

When giant corporate actors like IBM and Microsoft promote “transparency and compliance with ethical principles?”, we run the risk that they are helping to craft regulations that hinder future competitors (“regulatory capture”). Rather than partner with them in making statements, the Church should stay clear.

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We Will Never Go Back to the Pre-COVID-19 Workplace

The virus forced us to realize: Staying together apart has never been so easy

While many people (myself included) have railed against the excesses of technology and its tendency to weaken community spirit and understanding, it turns out that, in the present crisis, it is having the opposite effect. We aren’t really alone in the same way any more.

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COVID-19: Do Quarantine Rules Apply to Mega-Geniuses?

How did Elon Musk, who has a cozy relationship with China, get his upscale car factory classified as an essential business during the pandemic?

If we are going to hold some people up as business icons, why should it be those who—in the present COVID-19 troubles—have relations with China that necessarily raise questions?

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technical financial graph on technology abstract background

Is Moore’s Law Over?

Rapid increase in computing power may become a thing of the past

If Moore’s Law fails, AI may settle in as a part of our lives like the automobile but it will not really be the Ruler of All except for those who choose that lifestyle. Even so, a belief that we will, for example, merge with computers by 2045 (the Singularity) is perhaps immune to the march of mere events. Entire arts and entertainment industries depend on the expression of such beliefs.

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Stanford’s AI Index Report: How Much Is BS?

Some measurements of AI’s economic impact sound like the metrics that fueled the dot-com bubble

Stanford University’s AI index offers us fanciful measures of the triumph of AI, rivaling the far-fetched metrics of dot-com commerce. The reality has been the opposite. For decades, U.S. productivity grew by about 3% a year. Then, after 1970, it slowed to 1.5% a year, then 1%, now about 0.5%. Perhaps we are spending too much time on our smartphones.

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young asian man working from home

The Future of Transportation is Not Going Anywhere

As legislators and lobbyists wrangle, we may be trying to solve a problem that is gradually solving itself

The last decade has resounded with failed predictions about the future of transportation. I can't speak for other locations, but the Great E-Scooter Revolution of 2019 has both come and gone in the city in which I live. Isn’t the real future of transportation working and shopping at home? Why not just let the electrons do the commute and streamline the grocery run? 

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Which Career-Limiting Data Mistake Are YOU Most at Risk For?

Award-winning data science author Gary Smith says the odds depend on your relationship to the data

Dr. Smith thinks that the most dangerous error is putting data before theory. Many data-mining algorithms that are now being used to screen job applicants, price car insurance, approve loan applications, and determine prison sentences have significant errors and biases that are not due to programmer mistakes and biases, but to a misplaced belief in data-mining.

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McAfee: Assisted Driving System Is Easily Fooled

Defacing a road sign caused the system to dramatically accelerate the vehicle

Over time, machine vision will become harder to fool than the one that was recently tricked into rapid acceleration by a defaced sign. But it will still be true that a fooled human makes a better decision than a fooled machine because the fooled human has common sense, awareness, and a mind that reasons.

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Polygonal art of Bullish vs Bearish

Ransacking Flawed Data For Hidden Treasures Seldom Ends Well

The Internet provides a firehose of data that financial market researchers can use to interpret human behavior—but cherry-picked patterns usually vanish

The explosion of data has vastly increased the number of coincidental patterns that can be discovered by tenacious researchers. If there are a relatively fixed number of useful patterns and the number of coincidental patterns is growing exponentially, then the ratio of useful patterns to useless patterns must necessarily be getting closer to zero every day.

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Does the Information Society Need a Free Market?

The Gilder Fellows’ July Seminar will wrestle with why Millennials favor socialism

Many Millennials yearn for socialism but, according to the Gilder Fellows scholars, socialism is—at best—irrelevant to the challenges of an information society.

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Close up on pile of mixed electronic waste, old broken computer parts and cell phones

Is There a Gold Mine in Electronic Waste?

Yes, and it is much bigger than most of us realize

Recovering more precious metals from our departed electronics would help both economic growth and sustainable development at once.

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Photo by Michal Mrozek

So Is an AI Winter Really Coming This Time?

AI did surge past milestones during the 2010s but fell well short of the hype

Maybe both. AI will require more from us, not less, because how we choose to use these tools will make an increasingly stark difference between benefit and ruin.

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Can AI Help Hollywood Predict the Next Big Hit?

AI analysis sifts the past finely. But how well does the past predict the future?

AI does pose at least one threat to filmmaking. It could intensify the very tone-deafness that studios hope it can fix: Too much reliance on ever more finely grained analysis of the patterns in past data could blind decision makers to the real risks, volatility, and opportunities in the future. That’s a recipe for losing money and inflicting “Oh, not that again!” on audiences.

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Photo by Austin Distel

EVERYONE Can Beat the Market!

We’ve all heard: “No one can beat the market.” Is that true? Let’s look a little deeper

Using your talents to identify and invest in high-quality assets and pull money away from low-quality assets is a benefit to everyone involved in the market and, on the larger scale, the market’s future. If you invest in this way, you will beat the market.

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Photo by Jeremy Bishop

AI Goes to Hollywood

Warner Bros. hopes Cinelytic's AI will save time while making more reasonable financial estimates, thus forestalling expensive box office blunders

Cinelytic’s AI does is what every AI does at its most basic level. It collects and sifts large amounts of data to find patterns that can be used to make predictions. AI excels at pattern recognition because that is its only purpose. Humans aren’t so linear or predictable.

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Pleasant girl and robot working in the office

Robots Move? Tax Them!

Some policymakers see robots as a direct threat to jobs and hope taxes will slow them down

Jay Richards asks: Just imagine if our government had taxed earlier technological innovations because they threatened jobs. Does anyone think a targeted “tractor tax” would have been a good idea in the early twentieth century?

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Serious Investors Should Embrace the Stock Market Algos!

We can use computers’ inability to distinguish meaning from noise in data to our advantage

Computer algorithms are much, much better than humans at discovering statistical patterns but much, much worse than humans at discerning whether the patterns are meaningful. Wise investors can use the resulting blips to their advantage.

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GPS navigator in desert

AI Should Mean Thinking Smarter, Not Less

We should be all the more engaged when we use technology

Tim Harford points to the Sanchez tragedy to raise an important question: How do we know when a given technology is really helping us? And when we are taking too great a risk or paying too high a price?

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