Letter from the CEO

Under the hood of the phenomenon known generally as artificial intelligence lies fairly straight-forward mathematics that has been in use for many decades. What has caused this phenomenon to accelerate so rapidly in the past few years is the sustained collection of untold amounts of data in all forms. Through our incessant use of smart devices, social media, GPS and software applications in general, we have now fed machines sufficient data for them to effectively apply deep learning neural network methods.

There are, however, significant misunderstandings around the impact that artificial intelligence will have on our lives. For certain, robotics and AI will destroy some jobs, or at least the most menial aspects of those jobs. But they may just as likely create entirely new forms of work in the future. For certain also, artificial intelligence will change the way we communicate and behave towards each other on an interpersonal level. And there is a danger that we allow this to happen in the wrong way. 

At present, there is a misconception that it is the machines and mathematics that may subjugate humanity, whereas in fact it is the data that we feed the machines that is our own undoing. New regulations in Europe in respect of data privacy, whilst apparently costly and inefficient for many companies to implement, are a step in the right direction. We will probably look back at the year 2018 as the beginning of the battle that will take place over the precious resource that we call data. If left ungoverned, there is significant danger that a few large corporations will centralise power and, in many respects, eliminate culture. 

This issue of the Journal is broken into three parts. The purpose of these different sections is to unpack the concept of artificial intelligence through a logical progression, starting with the history and a basic understanding of AI, then moving on to a more intricate deconstruction of the idea of intelligence itself, and finally concluding with a forward-looking analysis of the implications that this technology will have for our society. 

We would at least hope that the Journal offers some provocative thoughts on the bourgeoning field of artificial intelligence. Happy reading!

David Buckham
Chief Executive Officer

Monocle Quarterly Journal Articles

A Future With No Driver
October 17
It was Andrew Yang’s job to create jobs. As the founder of non-profit organisation Venture for America, he used to place top graduates from the best universities around the country at start-ups in US ...
A True Test of Intelligence
October 17
A key area of interest in AI development is natural language processing (NLP), which aims to programme computers to communicate with humans through natural language recognition, natural language under...
AlphaGo vs Lee Sedol
October 17
Lee Sedol has an air of genius about him, although not an air of command or confidence. His thick, dark hair is cut in a bowl-like style and his voice is rather high pitched with an almost childish to...
Artificial Nightmares
October 17
Large corporations worldwide, as well as government, have all embarked on AI research, in an increasing effort to be ever more competitive. Some of these undertakings have borne fruit, with successful...
Banking and the Digital Revolution
October 17
Most people can recall what they were doing on September 11, 2001, when their otherwise normal Tuesday was interrupted as they were drawn to a nearby television to watch in horror and disbelief as tw...
Beating Garry Kasparov
October 17
Garry Kimovich Kasparov is considered by many to be the greatest chess player of all time. But the Russian grandmaster, despite his incomparable genius, is not a man without controversy. In 1993, Kasp...
Big Tech and the Colonisation of Data
October 17
When you start a business, you start by solving a problem. If your product or service can meet your customer’s most pressing needs in a unique and effective way, then the business that you build aroun...
Cyber Guns
October 17
On April 20, 1999, 17-year-old Eric Harris and 18-year-old Dylan Klebold walked into their high school in Colorado armed with two sawn-off shotguns, a TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, a 9mm Hi-Point carb...
Frankenstein Was a Hippie
October 17
One of the most famous German legends of all time is a story about an erudite named Faust. Having excelled in all areas of learning, Faust becomes bored and frustrated by the limits of his knowledge a...
Measuring Human Intelligence
October 17
The term “artificial intelligence” was coined in 1956 by computer scientist John McCarthy, who used it to refer to the idea of defining all aspects of human intelligence in such detail that a computer...
Romanian Orphans and the Power of Neglect
October 17
On 25 December 1989, Romanian president Nicolae Ceausescu and his wife Elena were not enjoying a hearty meal or exchanging gifts by the twinkle of lights on a Christmas tree. Instead, despite their be...
The Black Box Problem
October 17
In Ancient Greece, the most respected source of advice was the Oracle of Delphi, or the Pythia – the priestess of Apollo. She could be found perched on a tripod seat in the Temple of Apollo in Delphi,...
Artificial Intelligence
October 17
We say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that certainly was the case at Bletchley Park between 1942 and 1944, as the secret headquarters of British codebreakers during the Second World Wa...
The Importance of Lying
October 17
In the pursuit of constructing artificial intelligence, it would clearly be an assumption on behalf of AI researchers and indeed the general public, that the qualities of intelligence would include ra...
The Mind and the Body
October 17
By all accounts, Phineas Gage was a friendly, professional and level-headed person before his accident. But on the afternoon of 13 September 1848, everything changed. At the age of 25, Phineas was a c...
Monocle Solutions
October 17
In mathematics, a singularity is a point at which the normal logic of mathematics breaks down and an object does not behave in the manner that is typically expected. As the simplest example of a singu...
October 16
What we know for sure is that artificial intelligence is a powerful tool in mankind’s never-ending quest to become more dominant as a species. Whether we should respect or fear artificial intelligence...
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