Mirror, mirror, on the wall… …should this guy get bail or not? #46 #cong23 #reality


My contention is that even though AI (Generative AI) can’t draw a realistic hand to save its life, it is a powerful window into a reality we might otherwise not see.

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Key Takeaways:

  1. AI is not just a bad renderer of human hands.
  2. AI is a mirror that shows us truths we might not want to see, but should.
  3. The material we use to train AI is a fair representation of ourselves. And the cold, unbiased eye of AI is the perfect way to see the truths contained in it.
  4. AI can show you the truth, but it’s up to you to do something about it.

About Richard Ryan

I have worked in Advertising for approximately 30 years. I am a copywriter, which means I wrote the very words that made you choose that specific box of cornflakes, or cellphone plan or midrange server.

I work in a small, full-service ad agency in Brooklyn NY, called Something Different. What actually makes us something different is we solve your business problems with smart, plain-spoken, deeply human ideas. It what every agency should do, but sadly doesn’t.

I live in New Jersey, where I enjoy having four distinct seasons.

Contacting Richard Ryan

You can check out Richard’s personal site, and the Something Different Agency or send him an email.

By Richard Ryan

We’ve all sniggered at the oddly-webbed, six-fingered hands that AI draws for us. Or laughed at ChatGPT when it tried to gaslight a New York Times reporter and convince him to leave his wife for the program. And then there’s the Pepperoni Hug Spot commercial.

But don’t let that sideshow fool you.

I think AI is a powerful window into our reality. Or, to be more precise, a mirror. A mirror that shows us truths we might not want to see, but should.

Consider how Generative or Creative AI works. We feed it a set of things. The more the better. Things we write, draw and create. Images. Books. Letters. Scientific papers. Greek poetry. Whatever we want. And it absorbs them all. Then, using its super complicated algorithms, it “learns” what we’re showing it. It sees the patterns in what we’ve done. And then tries to recreate it. By guessing. Based on what it saw. It’s a hugely powerful trick. This way it can learn to code. Or converse in Chinese. Or if we give it millions of mammograms and medical data it can learn to spot breast cancers with uncanny accuracy

You could argue that it doesn’t actually understand anything. It’s not filtered or underpinned by emotion or beliefs or context. It just spits back the reality of what it sees.

So to my point. What does it see? Well, it was recently reported that when you ask Midjourney (which is a picture-generating AI) to create pictures of doctors, what it sends back are images of white men.

Possibly not what you’d expect, but it’s reflecting back what it has seen. It’s the truth.

What do those images tell us about our reality? Or about opportunity? Or about whether we really value diversity?

Admittedly, although it’s a thought-provoking fact, those are just pictures. No harm done. But that’s not always the case.

I said AI has taught itself to read mammograms. It’s way better and much faster than humans. It’s so good, doctors don’t quite understand what it’s seeing, or how it does it, but it has saved people’s lives. The problem is, while it’s very good at spotting cancers in white women, it’s not so good at spotting breast cancers in people of color.

That also teaches us something about our reality.

Because – just as with the doctor pictures – the data sets we’re using to train it are from real life, taken from a health care system that is biased and skewed.

The reality our AI is reflecting back at us is a reality where we don’t treat people equally. We treat some people worse.

That’s what the mirror is showing us.

In March of this year a judge in India couldn’t decide whether to grant bail for a murder suspect so he just asked ChatGPT to give him the answer. Chat GPT said the guy didn’t deserve bail because the program considered him “a danger to the community and a flight risk.” So the judge said fair enough and sent him back to jail.

Of course that’s a story of one lazy judge. That behavior would never become institutionalized, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, it could.

Right now, if you’re booked into jail in New Jersey, the judge when he’s deciding whether to send you to jail or not, has a small black box that uses risk-assessment algorithms to help him make his decision. Not quite autonomous. At least not yet. But when that AI does come on line, what data sets will be used to teach it? Whichever they are, they won’t be equitable. The data sets that comprise all the information on the US incarceration system were built up over centuries of hugely racist government policies.

So the decisions that AI will return – either go to jail or go home – will reflect and reinforce a reality that isn’t remotely fair.

That won’t be a few harmless pictures of white doctors, that’ll be someone’s life.

So the next time your AI doesn’t send you back quite what you’re expecting, don’t blame it for not getting reality right. Consider that, in its unvarnished, unemotional way, it may be getting reality exactly right.

Then, once we see that reality, consider what we want to do about it.

Is it time to Brainstorm with Google? #35 #cong18


We are seeing technology disrupt and fundamentally change our society. Soon AI will be able to suggest ideas based on insight. It will change how we see creativity, but ideas will be a precious commodity. Where do ideas come from now?

4 Key Takeaways:

  1. Technology has remapped society
  2. Our notion of creativity and ideas need to change
  3. AI will one day suggest ideas based on data
  4. Ideas will be a currency that we need to invest in now to avoid disruption

About Cyril Moloney:

Cyril Moloney is a Director at Teneo, specialising in technology, with nearly 20 years in technology communications in Ireland and internationally, he has seen technology go from the back room to the good room.

Contacting Cyril Moloney:

You can contact Cyril by email , connect with him on LinkedIn or follow him on Twitter.

By Cyril Moloney.

Voltaire once wrote ‘originality is nothing but judicious imitation’. In an age of data driven insights, iterations and reboots, are we in danger of losing the creative spark?

In a famous TED talk, Sir Ken Robinson said that we needed to re-evaluate education as we needed to teach and prepare the next generations for industries that did not exist. That was 2006;

  • Twitter was founded
  • iPhone was nearly a year away
  • Bebo was popular in Ireland
  • Facebook was two years old and was finally opening itself to the public
  • Google had just acquired YouTube
  • Cambridge Analytica was still five years from being founded

Fast forward to today and we are seeing more disruption at an ever-quicker pace. But are we seeing the ideas needed to adapt? Everything around us today, ranging from culture to consumer products, is a product of ideas coupled with intelligence.

Algorithmic Intelligence
With the coming of Artificial Intelligence (AI) over the next few years, will this be a milestone that will force us to embrace creativity and up our ideas game? At the most basic level AI needs data to analyse and will derive insights based on what has already happened. As it develops its ability to deliver insights at an exponential rate, is there room for ideas, or will we use AI as a crutch to create, safe in the knowledge that we reduce risk of that idea failing?

However, one lesson to bear in mind is that Big Data is not automatically Big Insight. Data can hide biases, be skewed or be incomplete. It may not represent the bigger picture or give you an insight that you can build on.

Ideas as Currency
Robinson highlighted that creativity is ‘the process of having original ideas that have value’
As AI and other new technologies infuse into our collective psyche, we have no concept of how it will change our society, our working and personal lives. All we do know is that ideas will likely become more valuable than money. We can bank on AI transforming job sectors and roles. With that will come disruption, but also the opportunity to create new industries around it. If you look at the car, that not only made horse drawn carriages obsolete, it created roads, service stations, and remapped societies and human behaviour in less than a century.

To that end, we will need to fundamentally reassess how we encourage, foster and support new idea generation. It may be time to rip up things we thought were certain, as we may only have a few years to adapt ideas to an ever-changing reality that will create more questions and enable new realities.

A recent Microsoft and EY report highlighted that Ireland was beginning to ramp up its AI activity, and needed investment and support. Now is the time for government, academia, business and the artist to get together and generate ideas for a society that may not exist yet and help address new challenges and opportunities that have yet to pass.

In 2004, a book called “The First Idea” suggested the development of our higher-level symbolic thinking, language, and social skills could not be explained by genes and natural selection but depend on cultural practices learned anew by each generation over millions of years, dating back to primate and prehuman cultures.

We rapidly need to create a culture of ideas and creativity if not, we run the risk of judicious imitation, something AI can already do.