Google’s bad impersonation, the end of tickets, and robot bank tellers (Issue 27)

Welcome to Issue 27 of the All Turtles newsletter. Each week, we bring you carefully chosen news and analysis about AI, startups, and happenings at the All Turtles startup studio. If you like this newsletter (we hope you do!), please subscribe or share with a friend.

Prank phone call

At Google I/O, CEO Sundar Pichai unveiled Duplex to roaring applause. The new technology enables Assistant to make human-sounding phone calls. But the audience’s enthusiasm for this AI development obscured an obvious ethical question. If an AI calls a business impersonating a human, and doesn’t reveal that it is an AI, what kind of precedent does that set? Google seems to be encouraging the creation of AI’s that don’t disclose they aren’t human. The road to dystopia may be paved with Google’s good intentions.

Read: Opinion: Google’s use of AI to mimic humans is unethical and bad UX (All Turtles)

Ticket to ride

Ticketmaster is hoping you think the biggest hassle of going to a concert is waiting in line to get your ticket scanned before entering the venue, and not the part when you have to pay hefty service fees. To address the first problem, Ticketmaster has partnered with Blink Identity, a Texas-based startup whose facial recognition scanners survey people entering a concert venue and determine whether they should be granted admission. As with all facial recognition applications, privacy is a concern, but Blink Identity focuses on potential use cases: paying for concessions just by walking up to the kiosk, for example, if a credit card is attached to each Ticketmaster profile. They’re saying they’ve got a golden ticket.

Read: Ticketmaster to trial facial recognition technology at live venues (VentureBeat)

Hire ed

Facebook’s new AI labs in Pittsburgh and Seattle are now pulling professors away from Carnegie Mellon and the University of Washington, respectively. Uber had already recruited 40 researchers from Carnegie Mellon for AI initiatives three years ago. And just last week, JPMorgan Chase recruited the school’s head of machine learning. Other universities are being similarly raided by Google, Microsoft, Baidu, and others. While no one can fault academics for seeking larger paychecks, these developments are worrisome. Who will teach our future experts?

Read: Facebook Adds A.I. Labs in Seattle and Pittsburgh, Pressuring Local Universities (New York Times)

Droning on

The problem with technological advancements is that once they’re available to everyone, they’re available to everyone. Defense specialists are now anticipating ways in which terrorists might use AI in order to prepare appropriate security measures. Consider that ISIS armed small consumer drones with grenades in the 2017 battle for Mosul. Experts took note and are working on safeguards and defense strategies to keep up, and hopefully outpace those that would do us harm.

Read: Terrorists Are Going to Use Artificial Intelligence (Defense One)

Bot banking

For those watching for signs of AI job displacement, here’s one: a Swiss bank piloted a project to replace employees with robots. Five robots managed transactions so efficiently that the bank is looking to expand the program. To compound employees’ anxieties, American Banker predicts that 70% of front-office jobs in banking will be overtaken by AI in the next few decades. Yet the conversation around jobs and AI is always more nuanced than simply saying “jobs will be lost.” There is immense potential for AI to add value to the workplace by improving workflows and creating different kinds of job opportunities. You can bank on that.

Read: How Five Robots Replaced Seven Employees at a Swiss Bank (Bloomberg)

Schoolhouse code

Imagine if you could skip college and learn to program for free. Kwame Yamgnane, co-founder of 42 Silicon Valley joins this episode to describe how his school’s tuition-free approach to coding instruction is disrupting higher education. Your hosts also examine the importance of physical dexterity when considering AI for IKEA furniture assembly and Tesla’s manufacturing process. And drumroll, please: We announce our next book club selection. (Hint: It’s not Norse Mythology.)

Listen: Episode 27: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Programming School (SoundCloud)


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