Obama: When we had lunch a while back, Joi used the example of self-driving cars. The technology is essentially here. There are gonna be a bunch of choices that you have to make, the classic problem being: If the car is driving, you can swerve to avoid hitting a pedestrian, but then you might hit a wall and kill yourself. The car trolley problem is a MIT Media Lab study in which respondents weighed certain lose-lose situations facing a driverless car.
Ito: When we did the car trolley problem 2 , we found that most people liked the idea that the driver and the passengers could be sacrificed to save many people. They also said they would never buy a self-driving car. Dadich: As we start to get into these ethical questions, what is the role of government?
Not always to force the new technology into the square peg that exists but to make sure the regulations reflect a broad base set of values. Temple Grandin is a professor at Colorado State University who is autistic and often speaks on the subject.
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She says that Mozart and Einstein and Tesla would all be considered autistic if they were alive today. Ito: Right, on the spectrum. Obama: That goes to the larger issue that we wrestle with all the time around AI. Part of what makes us human are the kinks. But right now, most of the billion-dollar labs are in business. Our confidence in collective action has been chipped away, partly because of ideology and rhetoric. The analogy that we still use when it comes to a great technology achievement, even 50 years later, is a moon shot.
And somebody reminded me that the space program was half a percent of GDP. And if government is not part of financing it, then all these issues that Joi has raised about the values embedded in these technologies end up being potentially lost or at least not properly debated. Dadich: You bring up a really interesting tension that Joi has written about: the difference between innovation that happens in the margins and the innovation that happens in something like the space program. How do we make sure the transmission of all these ideas can happen?
To give a very concrete example: Part of our project in precision medicine is to gather a big enough database of human genomes from a diverse enough set of Americans.
There is a common set of values, a common architecture, to ensure that the research is shared and not monetized by one group. Nick Bostrom is a renowned philosopher at the University of Oxford who has warned of the potential dangers of AI. Dadich: But there are certainly some risks. As we move forward, how do we think about those concerns as we try to protect not only ourselves but humanity at scale?
And if one person or organization got there first, they could bring down the stock market pretty quickly, or at least they could raise questions about the integrity of the financial markets. Ito: I generally agree.
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The only caveat is that there are a few people who believe that there is a fairly high-percentage chance that a generalized AI will happen in the next 10 years. So you can monitor when you think these breakthroughs will happen. Obama: And you just have to have somebody close to the power cord. Obama: Traditionally, when we think about security and protecting ourselves, we think in terms of armor or walls. Increasingly, I find myself looking to medicine and thinking about viruses, antibodies. Part of the reason why cybersecurity continues to be so hard is because the threat is not a bunch of tanks rolling at you but a whole bunch of systems that may be vulnerable to a worm getting in there.
What I spend a lot of time worrying about are things like pandemics. So if you take a public health model, and you think about how we can deal with, you know, the problems of cybersecurity, a lot may end up being really helpful in thinking about the AI threats. Ito: And just one thing that I think is interesting is when we start to look at the microbiome. Obama: Absolutely. I think that the notion that you can make strict orders or that you can eliminate every possible pathogen is difficult. Dadich: Is there also a risk that this creates a new kind of arms race?
Part of what makes this an interesting problem is that the line between offense and defense is pretty blurred. If we can make sure that the funding and the energy goes to support open sharing, there is a lot of upside. I do think that we may be in a slightly different period now, simply because of the pervasive applicability of AI and other technologies. High-skill folks do very well in these systems. They can leverage their talents, they can interface with machines to extend their reach, their sales, their products and services.
Low-wage, low-skill individuals become more and more redundant, and their jobs may not be replaced, but wages are suppressed. And if we are going to successfully manage this transition, we are going to have to have a societal conversation about how we manage this. How are we training and ensuring the economy is inclusive if, in fact, we are producing more than ever, but more and more of it is going to a small group at the top?
How do we make sure that folks have a living income? And what does this mean in terms of us supporting things like the arts or culture or making sure our veterans are getting cared for? The social compact has to accommodate these new technologies, and our economic models have to accommodate them. Does America even have the capacity to be honest about itself and come to terms with its self-destructive addiction to money-worship and cowardly xenophobia?
The age of Barack Obama may have been our last chance to break from our neoliberal soulcraft. We are rooted in market-driven brands that shun integrity and profit-driven policies that trump public goods.
What is Barack Obama's net worth? See how Obama spends his fortune - Business Insider
We are witnessing the postmodern version of the full-scale gangsterization of the world. The reign of Obama did not produce the nightmare of Donald Trump — but it did contribute to it. And those Obama cheerleaders who refused to make him accountable bear some responsibility. A few of us begged and pleaded with Obama to break with the Wall Street priorities and bail out Main Street. In March , Obama met with Wall Street leaders.
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He proclaimed: I stand between you and the pitchforks. I am on your side and I will protect you, he promised them. And not one Wall Street criminal executive went to jail. We called for the accountability of US torturers of innocent Muslims and the transparency of US drone strikes killing innocent civilians.
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And then we were told a few had been killed. And then told maybe 65 or so had been killed. Yet when an American civilian, Warren Weinstein, was killed in there was an immediate press conference with deep apologies and financial compensation. We hit the streets again with Black Lives Matter and other groups and went to jail for protesting against police killing black youth.
We protested when the Israeli Defense Forces killed more than 2, Palestinians including children in 50 days. Labor insurgencies in Wisconsin, Seattle and Chicago vigorously opposed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel, a close confidant of Obama were passed over in silence. Along with Carl Dix and others, I sat in a jail two years later for protesting these very same policies that Obama ignored when praising Bloomberg.
Yet the mainstream media and academia failed to highlight these painful truths linked to Obama. Instead, most well-paid pundits on TV and radio celebrated the Obama brand. How hypocritical to see them now speak truth to white power when most went mute in the face of black power.