No. 206: Congressional AI Task Force | NYC AI Center | Microsoft Opens AI Playbook

Waters Announces Committee Task Forces on Financial Technology and Artificial Intelligence (US House Committee on Financial Services)

I’m glad to see Rep. Alma Adams on the artificial intelligence committee. My hope is that she asks those questions that get at the unintended consequences around the meshing of AI technology and financial services and those impacts on vulnerable Americans.

The concerning part about this is that this is work that should have taken place a years ago. The Chinese government released its AI strategy in 2017 and cities are investing in AI research at the level of the U.S. government. The White House just started thinking through AI policy a couple years ago. It’s water under the bridge now, but I look forward to following this committee and hope they staff up well and move quickly.

Silicon Valley likes to think of itself as successful on its own, but those defense contracts 40 years ago served as a huge wind to its back. Even today, companies like Tesla have benefited greatly from government investment. Currently, the private sector is investing heavy in AI. The US won’t lead in this space until the government gets itself together to put resources behind the development of AI technology in a coordinated fashion.

As an aside, I remember seeing Rep. Adams around Greensboro as a kid growing up. She and Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson shaped my view of who could lead. Grateful for their model.

(Erica, I’m rooting for you!)

NYCEDC Seeks Proposals for Responsible Artificial Intelligence Center (GlobeSt)

Cities across the US would do well to follow New York City and have at least a few folks think proactively about AI and how their city can shape its development and impact on their locale. This effort by NYC to stand up a center that shapes the development of artificial intelligence is important and commendable.

There’s one caveat. I mentioned in the above section that cities are investing in AI at the level of the U.S. For more context there, Shanghai is standing up a nearly $15B fund to invest in AI research and development. Contrast that with the $7M with which NYC will support its Center for Responsible Artificial Intelligence.

Creating AI glass boxes – Open sourcing a library to enable intelligibility in machine learning (Microsoft Research)

This is a strong move by Microsoft to build a tool that helps folks understand what the AI they are using is actually doing. The movie Margin Call came to mind while reading this. Something like this might have been helpful as banks were spinning up models they didn’t understand in the lead up to the financial crisis of 2008.

No. 77: Improving My Podcast Listening Experience 

Imagine navigation apps like Waze and Google Maps being able to recognize what podcast or radio show you’re listening to and adopting the voice of the host or artist you’re listening to in providing directions. 

Waze currently overshadows my podcast listening.  The volume on the podcast I’m listening to lowers when the Waze navigator tells me where to turn next. Because of this, I miss little details in the episodes. Integrating the directions more cleanly into whatever I’m listening to would be great – have the podcast content stop, replaced by the next set of directions in the voice of whomever I’m listening to.

There’s got to be the technology to do this. Google just updated Google Now to provide more contextual support for users. For example, if you’re texting with your friend about what movie you will, you can call up Google Now without leaving the text application. Google Now will read your text and pull up information on the movies you and your friend mentioned in your texts. There’s got to be a way to port that kind of machine learning to how apps interact sonically.