Artificial Intelligence (AI)

As artificial intelligence (AI) systems take on more tasks and solve more problems, it’s hard to say which is rising faster: our interest in them or our fear of them. Futurist Ray Kurzweil famously predicted that “By 2029, computers will have emotional intelligence and be convincing as people.”

We don’t know how accurate this prediction will turn out to be. Even if it takes more than 10 years, though, is it really possible for machines to become conscious? If the machines Kurzweil describes say they’re conscious, does that mean they actually are?

Perhaps a more relevant question at this juncture is: what is consciousness, and how do we replicate it if we don’t understand it?

In a panel discussion at South By Southwest titled “How AI Will Design the Human Future,” experts from academia and industry discussed these questions and more.

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For big companies, success is a blessing and a curse. You don’t get big without doing something (or many things) very right. It might start with an invention or service the world didn’t know it needed. Your product takes off, and growth brings a whole new set of logistical challenges. Delivering consistent quality, hiring the right team, establishing a strong culture, tapping into new markets, satisfying shareholders. The list goes on.

Eventually, however, what made you successful also makes you resistant to change.

You’ve built a machine for one purpose, and it’s running smoothly, but what about retooling that machine to make something new? Not so easy. Leaders of big companies know there is no future for their organizations without change. And yet, they struggle to drive it.

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The ocean covers more than 70 percent of our planet’s surface. The Pacific alone is more than 60 million square miles. And yet, technologists are often focused on their home turf, populating roads with Ubers, equipping cities with wireless access points, and covering the land with cellular base stations.

Thus far, the 321,003,271 cubic miles of ocean on Earth have experienced more technological harm than benefit. Over-fishing, plastic waste, oil spills, raw sewage dumping, illegal whaling, and climate change have all taken a toll.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. New and developing technologies could lead to a more responsible ocean economy.

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