CES: Pulitzer Winner Details Megashifts Impacting Our World

Thomas Friedman, three-time Pulitzer Prize winning author and columnist for The New York Times discussed his latest thesis that the world has moved from the Industrial Revolution to a world that is “Fast, Fused and Deep.” During CES 2021, Friedman spoke with Professor Amnon Shashua, president and CEO of Mobileye, the Israeli subsidiary of Intel that develops autonomous and assisted driving AI solutions. Friedman framed the discussion by describing the Industrial Revolution as establishing “Walls” to govern the transfer of trade and human beings, a “Floor” as a social safety net to cushion people, and a “Ceiling” on the pace of change.

Political differences have led to debates regarding how strong the Walls should be, how thick the cushion on the Floor should be, and how high the Ceiling should be. However, Friedman suggests that three accelerators — technology, globalization and climate change — are blowing away the Walls, Floor and Ceiling and shooting us into the next era of Fast, Fused and Deep (click on the image below to watch the full presentation).

“Fast” refers to when the half-life of skills gets shorter and shorter. The specific knowledge acquired at expensive traditional universities is out of date before the loans are paid off. In India, Infosys operates the world’s largest corporate university. Their goal is to sustain the company and to continue to innovate by offering education to their employees that is both just-in-case and just-in-time.

“Fused” refers to new ways that business interests are becoming intertwined. For example, Qualcomm views Huawei in 5 ways — as a customer, supplier, partner, competitor and shared global standard-setter. Business relationships have become ecosystems of complex adaptive coalitions.

“Deep” refers to the trend of technology going deep inside our businesses, our lives and our bodies in ways that we may not even be aware of. Our smart home devices and activity trackers are often nodes on an information receiving and information sending network that we may only vaguely understand.

As this Fast, Fused and Deep world emerges it will take an ecosystem of complex adaptive coalitions to develop protocols for operations and controls. To have a complex adaptive coalition you need to have shared values. How to establish shared values among people and machines is a key question hovering over the development of AI.

Shashua described how Intel and Mobileye have been working together for three years to find a way to code autonomous driving apps so they align with human judgement. Beyond traffic rules, how do we translate ‘be careful’ into code? How do you mathematically define for the machine the borderline between careful and recklessness? By extension, how do you show society that the AI’s judgement is aligned with human judgement?

Intel and Mobileye jointly published an academic paper titled Responsibility-Sensitive Safety to lay the groundwork for this. They plan to take it to regulators worldwide to start the regulatory discussion from an informed position.

Shashua pointed out that people often speak of ethics and AI, but they don’t often talk about alignment of judgement between people and AI. Alignment will cause the AI to act in accordance with the ethics of the community, regardless of the AI’s level of intelligence.

Our Fast, Fused and Deep world is transforming from Walls, Floor and Ceiling to radical openness. The three accelerators of technology, globalization and climate change mark the urgency of thinking about how to align the AI we develop with our own human judgement.

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[Video content courtesy of the Consumer Technology Association. All rights reserved.]