Jailed by Artificial Intelligence


On the heels my post last week about the unintended consequences of artificial intelligence (AI), the Associated Press reported on a Chicago man who was arrested for murder based on AI-enabled software called ShotSpotter, that placed the source of the gunshot in his car. That was the only evidence. There was no weapon, no eyewitness and no theory about motive. The man was released by a judge last week due to lack of evidence — after a year in jail! No kidding.


The Chicago police are among several police departments around the country utilizing the software to, first, decipher what sounds are gunshots (and not car backfires or cherry bombs) and, second, triangulate on the source. It could be a useful tool when combined with other evidence. But unintended consequences being what they are… Well, I won’t say I didn’t tell you so.


Meanwhile, several employees of the online clothing store Stitch Fix resigned this year over concerns about COVID in the workplace. Stitch Fix employs style consultants to help its customers find clothing that both fits well and suits their taste. On their way out the door, many of the stylists complained they were training the algorithm to take their place. Management put a different spin on the process. CEO Elizabeth Spaulding told the Verge that the company’s stylists “play a very active role in training our machine learning models with our data science team for outfits, which our ability to generate algorithmic outfits in a feed is, we think, a real source of differentiation that requires that human touch to help build and train those models, as well as quality control.”


Huh? I think she’s confirming what her departing employees said. But, who knows?


Moving right along…


A central feature of my book, The Awakening of Artemis, is the recovery of the protagonist’s grandfather from a cryogenic facility. Granddad is a Nobel-winning mathematician whose brain power is needed to sort out some new technology.


Cryogenics is a fanciful idea, not only because its use anticipates that a future society will be able to cure what ails us, but also because current laws in most countries require one to be dead before being frozen. So, not only do we need to be able to cure, for example, pancreatic cancer. But, we also have to be able to bring someone back from brain death.


A Russian company, Kriorus, has a different approach. The company endeavors to refine a process called trans-humanism. Why hamper our existence with human emotions and physical limitations when we can upload our conscious selves into a digital world and live forever? And so, Kriorus is working on a process that would upload our consciousness, our memories and our intellect into cyberspace so we can live forever.


A YouTube video explaining the process and philosophy fails to explain who will keep the electric grid up and running while we enjoy our digital afterlife.

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