Productive Procrastination #15

Revue
 
Welcome back. It's gotten really hard to make fun of the US primaries when we see similar tendencies
 

Johannes Kleske

March 15 · Issue #15 · View online
A combination of recommendations, observations, and personal updates

Welcome back. 
It’s gotten really hard to make fun of the US primaries when we see similar tendencies in Germany, even when they are on a much smaller scale. Without going into much detail about the success of the German AFD party last weekend, there’s one similarity that I see between the US and Germany: the reluctance of the established parties and most of the media to dig deeper into the disposition of the citizens behind the AFD and movements like Pegida. Now, that they can’t ignore them anymore, they propose to “fight them with facts.” A strategy that utterly failed in the US when dealing with Trump and his voters. At some point, we have to accept that things have changed and that the approaches of yesterday don’t work anymore. I can’t help but feel like political and media circles hope that this will pass and they won’t have to adapt to this new normal. At least, we know now how that strategy worked out for the GOP…
Ok, pivoting now to the topic the Internet of Newsletters is bound to cover these days…AlphaGo vs. Lee Sedol.

What if AlphaGo and Lee Sedol teamed up?
For a time, most talks and books about automation and the futures of work featured a story about how the future could be about the human-machine-symbiosis. The story referred to a freestyle chess tournament in 2005 where a team of two human players using three different chess programs beats everyone else, individual human players and chess programs. The team combining their own creativity with the strengths of each chess program provided a vision of a future, in which we will work together with the machines, each side doing what it does best. Or, as Martin Ford puts it, machines taking over tasks, not jobs.
This was my main frame of reference for following the hype about the Go match between AlphaGo and Lee Sedol.
Damien quoted this part from that Wired article in his newsletter:
“As [Fan Hui] played match after match with AlphaGo over the past five months, he watched the machine improve. But he also watched himself improve. The experience has, quite literally, changed the way he views the game. When he first played the Google machine, he was ranked 633rd in the world. Now, he is up into the 300s. In the months since October, AlphaGo has taught him, a human, to be a better player. He sees things he didn’t see before. And that makes him happy. “So beautiful,” he says. “So beautiful.””
And here’s Jay Cassano in his latest newsletter issue
“One random thought: If Lee is able to beat AlphaGo as both white and black, it could mean that there is an AI that is on par with world champions, but not undeniably better than them – as in the case of chess. Wouldn’t it be interesting if Go-playing AIs hit a plateau at which humans and AIs playing each other consistently improve both’s? That would certainly point to a different future of human-computer relations than a future of domination by AI super-intelligence we read every day. But who knows if that’s the case.”
As someone who referenced that freestyle chess story in his talks, I see incredible potential for the future in our relationship with whatever AI will become. But in my talks, I always follow up the chess story with the warning that this decision is not about “machines” taking away our jobs but about the humans behind the machines fighting for the power to decide about the future of work. 
Reading Recommendations
The Obama Doctrine
Spies Sans Frontières?
Three Short Futures: On Children, Data and the Internet of Things
The Robots Are Coming for Wall Street
Transmetropolitan: the 90s comic that's bang up-to-date on Donald Trump
Thank you
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Carefully curated by Johannes Kleske with Revue.
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