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Paul Daugherty: Technology is neutral

Paul Daugherty: Technology is neutral

Paul Daugherty: Technology is neutral

By Anna McDonald for Box News

AI and related technologies have already indicated positive outlooks for general quality of life and the future of work, health care and education. But, they’ve emerged as a potential locus of inequality, too, potentially leading to the increased power and wealth of a few.

Weighing up the risks and rewards

The most significant challenge in regulating the use and impact of new technologies is that the very same characteristics which offer the greatest benefits may also create the greatest risks. Neither outcome is necessarily more likely than the other, but represent a choice in how we engage with these technologies.

We have nothing to fear

Instead of fearing AI, we must recognise its essentially neutral character. To realise this is to understand the technology and ensure that its purpose aligns with our values. New technologies are only as ‘good’ as those who implement them, highlighting the need to responsibly re-skill employees to use the power of technology to ‘re-humanise’, not dehumanise, the workplace.

Paul Daugherty, CTIO of Accenture, says:

“Technology is neutral. Humans decide how to use it. You can use an axe to cut your crops or to kill your neighbour. The choice is yours, not the axe’s.”

Watch this short interview, and let us know what you think on Twitter. 

AI and smart clothing: Capable technology is augmenting, not taking over our lives

AI and smart clothing: Capable technology is augmenting, not taking over our lives

AI and smart clothing: Capable technology augmenting, not taking over our lives

By Alasdair Munn for Box News

Many people still have a fear of Artificial Intelligence (AI). That AI will create a sterile world where our reliance on technology drives us further from nature — creating a world of interfaces removed from reality.

Alex Kass, Labs Fellow at Accenture, feels the opposite is true.

Imagining a more collaborative future

What if we consider how AI and smart materials will allow us to go about our day unburdened by visible or conscious technology? Instead of fear, Alex paints a picture of a collaborative future containing smarter, more capable technology that augments, rather than take over, our lives.

Far from driving us further apart, systems will enable people to connect and collaborate with others whom they would otherwise never have met. In the professional sphere, AI will be able to assemble teams of the best-suited workers for a given project or enterprise from around the world.

Dangerous, menial or time-consuming tasks will be undertaken by automatons, leaving us more time to ‘be human’. In our day-to-day lives, smart materials will become increasingly prominent in the realms of construction and fabric/clothing manufacturing, among others.

Listen to this excerpt taken from a more extended interview with Alex Kass, and let us know your thoughts on Twitter.

Milena Marinova: AI is only as dangerous as we are

Milena Marinova: AI is only as dangerous as we are

Milena Marinova: AI is only as dangerous as we are

By Sydney Radclyffe for Box News

By now, it’s clear to most people that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is essential. These days, the media seems to talk about little else, from the realm of automated technology to discussions about education and data security issues. But, it’s also apparent that many people are suspicious, worried, and simply uninformed about what AI is, what it does, and what it could do in the future.

Experts in the tech field (like Elon Musk), have warned of the possible dangers of AI, often using catastrophic language that provokes fear. To get a clearer picture of the situation, we sat down with Milena Marinova, Senior VP in charge of AI Products and Solutions at Pearson, a global company focused on bettering education.

Beware of bias, perception and hyperbole

Milena starts by explaining that biases are often partly shaped by pessimistic attitudes toward AI. Language and perception are critical when it comes to public opinion, and ‘Artificial Intelligence’, as it’s known by most, is usually called ‘machine learning’ within the industry. This difference is significant.

AI has often been shown by Hollywood and the media in an unfavourable or sinister light, leading to widespread negative connotations. In contrast, the friendlier-sounding ‘machine learning’ is a term fewer members of the public would recognise, yet both labels describe systems able to perform tasks requiring human-level intelligence.

Robots won’t be taking over the world – unless we ask them to

The public’s most significant worries about AI stem from fears of a loss of control, imagining an environment where humans put too much trust in intelligent machines and are eventually outsmarted, to be left at the ‘mercy of the robots’. Milena rejects the idea of AI as an out-of-control force separate from humanity. After all, a computer will only do what it’s programmed to by its creator. So, it’s entirely up to humans to create the AI systems we want to see in the world. These are human creations designed to solve human problems and not an imposing foreign force.     

AI isn’t as prevalent as some people think

The constant buzz around AI makes it seem as though it’s already in every part of our daily lives, with some taking this as proof that the first step of the ‘robot takeover’ is underway.

According to Milena, the number of practical applications for AI in consumer-facing products is still relatively low. Outside of personalisation in streaming services and virtual assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google Home, the average person is unlikely to interact with AI on a day-to-day basis.

AI systems are currently much less developed than many people assume, and fears over the impending arrival of dangerous, autonomous robots are, as of yet, conjecture.

The future is ours – and we have a responsibility to protect it

According to Milena, strong human leadership with an ethical grounding are of great importance as we look to the future of AI. Responsibility for these systems rests entirely with us, and the closer we get to creating artificial near-human intelligence, the higher the need will be for new codes of ethics and management.

As is pointed out in most conversations about AI, no matter how intelligent systems may become, they will always lack human compassion, emotion, and a moral compass. Greater cooperation between the public and private spheres will be of vital importance in the near future. Tech companies and corporations must be transparent in collaborating with governments to create legislation around AI.

Milena believes that a holistic understanding of the potential problems caused by AI, as well as solutions it could provide, is the most crucial step toward a safer future, in which the tools we rely on leave us more time to ‘be human’.

Patricia Arquette on equality, civil rights, and Hollywood

Patricia Arquette on equality, civil rights, and Hollywood

Patricia Arquette on equality, civil rights, and Hollywood

By Alasdair Munn for Box News

Patricia Arquette both shocked and delighted the audience with her acceptance speech at the 2015 Oscars when she spoke with passion about equal rights and equality for women.

This helped spark a movement which continues to gain momentum.

We spoke to Patricia about the speech’s impact, the current trend towards greater equality in Hollywood and her continued activism around basic constitutional civil rights for women in America and equal rights globally.

One woman’s quest to improve our lives through AI

One woman’s quest to improve our lives through AI

One woman’s quest to improve our lives through AI

By Sydney Radclyffe for Box News

Milena Marinova always had a love of numbers. She spent her childhood competing in math events at a high level, so her gravitation to the world of data, machine learning and AI comes as no surprise.

Milena is Senior VP of AI Products and Solutions at Pearson’s. She’s also a Mentor at Unreasonable Future – a group focused on job creation and social equity. Moreover, Milena is Venture Partner at Atlantic Bridge Capital and a Board Member right here at Box Media. Pretty impressive.

Diverse fields of experience have given Milena a multi-layered understanding of complex ideas that others are often intimidated by, or else see as marginal and self-contained. Recently Milena welcomed Box Media in to share a glimpse of her world.

Exploring how AI can help humanity

Milena’s expertise centres around AI technology. Not just current and future applications, but in a holistic sense. Milena is particularly interested in considering the solutions and problems that AI could address, or indeed create, for humanity.

At the heart of Milena’s outlook is a people-based approach that strives for collaboration between AI and humans, rather than one working for the other. Where many today are overwhelmed by technology and its potential powers, Milena brings an ethical, pragmatic and forward-thinking perspective, identifying links between concepts to see the bigger picture.

A personal vision for the future

Milena’s work pursues a greater good rather than placing business concerns and profit above all else. This approach stems from her vision of success and the way she sees perceptions of this value shifting soon.

Before we know it, she explains, the business labelled ‘most successful’ will be that which proves itself the ‘most ethical’, not ‘richest’ – particularly when it comes to large corporations. Milena believes that AI and other emerging technologies aren’t self-contained. They exist within a web of interconnected technological, economic, political and social concerns – a reality reflected in Milena’s mindset.

A dreamer with an insatiable thirst for knowledge

Milena already has more than enough on her plate. But, this doesn’t stop her from dreaming about careers she’d choose if she had the time to do it all again.

Not to say she regrets her chosen path, but hearing her speak, you get the sense that she’d like to do the work of three or four lifetimes in one. It’s a testament to her drive and thirst for knowledge that, when we asked her what an alternative career might have been, she responded simply with “brain surgeon”. Of course, she doesn’t miss the chance to connect this to AI technology, going on to talk about the possibilities of using AI for the advancement of neuroscience.

It’s a man’s world – but don’t let that stop you

Despite the low number of women in AI, Milena doesn’t immediately identify gender challenges in her experience of the AI industry, claiming she “fell into it”.

Let’s dig a little deeper; there’s more to this story. Milena spent significant time and energy on learning skills like programming in a time before this sort of learning was readily available. Programming is something Milena says doesn’t come naturally to her. However, she felt having a basic grasp of programming was essential to her career path, so she pushed herself to learn.

Some words of wisdom

Milena’s advice to other women looking to build a career in the field is to nurture your expertise as armour against intimidation – something she identifies as a common problem in male-dominated fields.

Milena recommends taking introductory courses as an excellent way to gain a solid grounding in mathematics and other specific skills sets, creating a foundation of confidence. Another example of the philosophy of continuous learning at every level.

Don’t think of ‘goodness’ as lesser in importance than intelligence. Value both equally, and don’t waste time putting up with “brilliant a**holes”, no matter how impressive they may be.

Success comes with sacrifices – but AI could be here to help

Milena doesn’t hide the fact that being a woman executive can come with some challenging trade-offs, particularly when it comes to your personal life. As she puts it, “you can have it all, but not at the same time.”

Milena sees this as a matter of choice. She loves what she does and is driven to succeed, resisting the assumption that all women will, at some point, want to prioritise ‘settling down’. She sees this drive as common in the kind of people who change the world and feels it’s tied more to individual personality than gender.

Milena will always take the opportunity to link these challenges back to AI and its potential to ease struggles we all face daily.

Having our menial and repetitive tasks taken over by intelligent machines would relieve our mental load, leaving us more time to focus on what matters. For women under pressure to succeed professionally, who also want to raise families and still somehow make time for themselves, growing technology like AI assistants could be a lifesaver.

From innovating to mentoring and everything in between, Melina believes thoughtful and responsible AI development will give us all more room to simply ‘be human’.

Patricia Arquette on the creative process and pressures of being a new author

Patricia Arquette on the creative process and pressures of being a new author

Patricia Arquette on the creative process and pressures of being a new author

By Alasdair Munn for Box News

Our Creative Director Elisabetta Zucchi sat down with Patricia Arquette to talk about creativity and the way Patricia incorporates this into her acting process.

Methods of incorporation

Over a career that spans decades, Patricia has tried a variety of methods to help her ‘become’ her characters. From colour-coding within scripts to map emotions to immersing herself in the music and books of a particular era, her preparation alone is a demanding process.

Patricia’s ability to embody her characters comes from the intensity she brings to every endeavour. This is a defining characteristic of her attitude towards work and her personality in general.

Throughout our conversation, Patricia switches from discussing her all-consuming acting practice to the joy of being immersed in artistic creativity. She also identifies the personal and emotional energy she so closely associates with writing.

Writing as an art form

Patricia credits her mother, a teacher, with sparking her appreciation of literature and poetry. Her mum helped her see words as accessible, enriching, and a means to find escape.

As opposed to acting, where Patricia’s art is in channelling other people’s angst and joy, writing as an art form is infinitely more personal. This is something she discovered while writing her upcoming autobiography.

Patricia puts it this way:

“Even though I am brave as an actor, writing is so much more vulnerable to me. It really is the most terrifying art form for me.”

This vulnerability is a result of two main factors. As a person with dyslexia, Patricia often finds the written form especially challenging, with the impulse to express herself hampered by insecurity and memories of judgement. Equally daunting, perhaps, is the sheer nakedness of putting herself out there in her own words, without any character or script to hide behind.

For fellow dyslexics, it could be reassuring to hear Patricia talk about how dyslexia has been a gift to her. She feels it’s allowed her to see the world differently and enabled her to bring a fresh, individual perspective to her creative process.

One thing is for sure: Patricia puts her all into everything that she does, and this latest foray into writing will be no exception.

Patricia Arquette talks GiveLove and eco-sanitation

Patricia Arquette talks GiveLove and eco-sanitation

Patricia Arquette talks GiveLove and eco-sanitation

By Sydney Radclyffe for Box News

Celebrities and public figures are becoming involved in charitable work and are donating more than ever before. But, not all can do the ‘dirty work’ necessary to tackle some of the most pervasive problems threatening a safe, peaceful future for humanity as a whole. 

A natural disaster triggers a change

GiveLove was established in the wake of the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010, primarily to help with emergency sanitation solutions for the vast number of people displaced by the disaster. While this project started as a response to a crisis, it highlighted a general lack of infrastructure around healthy, ecological sanitation and waste management.  

GiveLove identifies untreated waste leading to water pollution as a cause of millions of deaths around the globe annually. 

A global issue, with far-reaching concequences

Patricia emphasises the importance of ecological sanitation (EcoSan) systems to improve the quality of life in developing communities, and to address global issues of water scarcity and waste treatment. 

As GiveLove’s mission statement explains, the global need for clean water is a recognised issue, and positive large-scale efforts in this area are already happening. However, eco-friendly sanitation and waste disposal methods are a crucial aspect of the problem – and they’re being neglected.

Patricia realises that a lot of people of influence, who might otherwise lend their voice to activism, have a reluctant, ‘squeamish’ attitude when it comes to the subject of sanitation. 

Rethinking ‘waste’

GiveLove has now been supporting EcoSan systems for nine years, not only financially, but by training communities and spreading awareness of how to better dispose of human waste and protect water supplies at the local level.

In Patricia’s words, this involves a re-thinking and repurposing of ‘waste’ itself. Just as we use compost and manure in agriculture, we should also be composting human waste. This could be the key to safeguarding water supplies and improving crop fertility by avoiding harsh chemical fertilisers.

Compost sanitation protects water by removing waste from the water system, can improve soil quality and rainfall retention, and even reduce carbon emissions.

Patricia sees compost sanitation as being at the centre of problem-solving for developing communities. For instance, non-secure public toilet facilities are a common site of sexual assault against women and girls. Girls are often forced to drop out of school as they mature due to fears around safety.

Beyond this, there are currently over 1 billion people living without established sanitation systems, leading to a multitude of health and child development concerns. Implementing affordable, safe, and clean composting toilet facilities in schools and homes not only reduces the burden on public health but benefits the planet.

A universal issue that needs our attention

Patricia has often used her visibility to advocate for GiveLove’s cause. But, she also recognises the need for greater public awareness and involvement in communities across the world. She sees inter-community collaboration as crucial in addressing global sanitation with the gravity it deserves. This is not as a fringe problem affecting marginal groups in ‘faraway’ places but as vital to our shared future as human beings.

The children are our future …

Inspiring young minds might be easier and more effective than engaging preoccupied adults with what they see as ‘outside’ problems. This is why Patricia supports projects like international school-to-school programmes. Direct communication between young people from vastly different backgrounds is a sure way to educate and enlighten while instilling a sense of global stewardship.

Schools are also an excellent locus for fundraising – a significant priority for GiveLove. GiveLove supports EcoSan systems from the ground up. They begin with sanitation education and training in construction, through to building composting toilets in schools, houses and businesses, and leaving local communities with the knowledge and skills to continue.

GiveLove delivers educational course modules, site planning and estimates, building materials, and further teaching tools, such as comic books for kids and useful infographics for adults.

Funding and resources are critical

Resources are, of course, a constant concern as GiveLove expands across continents in its mission to facilitate adequate global sanitation.

Since operations began in 2010, GiveLove has established projects in Kenya, Nicaragua, Colombia, Uganda, and the USA. In America, team members stood for five months in solidarity with Dakota Access Pipeline protesters at Standing Rock, providing sanitation for thousands of activists and Indigenous water protectors.

Patricia herself spent time living at the camp and became a prominent public face of the movement in the media. It’s clear that Patricia is not only ready and able to do the necessary groundwork to create change but that her perspective as an activist is unconfined.

Patricia is neither limited to tending her backyard nor afraid of raising her voice in defence of others, even when most in her community would not.

This activist might also be an actress – and an author, too – but her influence undoubtedly stems not from her fame, but her capability, integrity, and grounded vision of a better future for all.

The multi-faceted dedication of Patricia Arquette

The multi-faceted dedication of Patricia Arquette

The multi-faceted dedication of Patricia Arquette

By Sydney Radclyffe for Box News

An acclaimed actress, philanthropist, newly-minted writer and longtime friend of Box Media, Patricia Arquette wears many hats. We sat down to talk with Patricia about her career and creative pursuits. Patricia is a passionate activist in the field of sanitation systems in developing communities and a committed promoter of equality in the workforce.

Learn more about how she juggles it all while staying sane.

Passion and perseverance with international influence

With multiple awards on her shelves, including this year’s Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette’s name is undoubtedly one of Hollywood fame. Arguably, she’s achieved as much off-screen as on it. 

Patricia formed the non-profit organisation GiveLove.org after the devastating Haiti earthquake of 2010. It supports the implementation of ethical, eco-friendly sanitation and composting, as well as broader community planning and construction projects. 

After the initial project in Haiti came initiatives in Kenya, Uganda, Colombia, and Nicaragua. 

Activism and change on home soil, too

Patricia’s US-focused activism re-emerged in 2015 when she used her visibility to advocate for equal wages and fair treatment of women in the film industry during her Academy Awards acceptance speech.

Her speech helped to galvanise the entire community and presaged the ongoing conversation around justice for women in Hollywood, a conversation that continues to hold the whole world’s attention.

Perhaps Patricia’s life can best be characterised by this contrast between the glamour of the red carpet and the hands-on work of charitable activism. Patricia is unfazed by this apparent dichotomy and has little sympathy for the more squeamish attitudes that some have about the causes she champions.

For Patricia, the key to raising awareness and real understanding of the problems faced by struggling, marginal or ‘far-flung’ communities is inter-community collaboration, an example being international school-to-school fundraising programmes.

Sharing the past to understand the future

Patricia is as much an educator as an entertainer. This year, she’s completing a long-awaited memoir taking us through her life and career, as well as the tragic death of her activist sister Alexis Arquette due to HIV. Painstakingly examining the effect of this on Patricia and her work, the volume promises to be equally poignant and illuminating.

Despite this latest literary turn, Patricia openly talks about having dyslexia and that for her, “writing is the most terrifying art form”. At the same time, the activity takes her back to childhood, when writing was a solitary act of self-soothing which her mother nurtured and encouraged.

Care for others, but make sure you care for yourself too

Although Patricia recognises the importance of self-care, she often has to remind herself to slow down and take care of her own needs. After experiencing some physical signs of ill health, doctors once told her to rest and forbid her from working, reading, or even watching serious films in the evening. Such symptoms, according to Arquette, are “really just an accumulation of many years of bad behaviour.”

Patricia brings a tireless work ethic and refuses to abdicate responsibility for her actions. If this is ‘bad behaviour’, then perhaps the world could use a little more of it.

Why we will not lose our jobs to AI

Why we will not lose our jobs to AI

Why we will not lose our jobs to AI

By Alasdair Munn for Box News

Box News spoke to Edy Liongosari, Chief Research Scientist at Accenture Labs about the impact AI will have on the future job market.

Losing our jobs to AI – the reality

Will we lose our jobs to AI? Edy doesn’t think so. There’s a lot of noise and hype around the potential loss of jobs that might be caused by the influence of AI. While areas like transportation and administration may see shifts towards automation, what is maybe less understood and conceptualised are the new job opportunities AI is creating.

New roles for data analysts, data scientists, and in the emerging field of data ethics are starting to appear. Very few people know about these sorts of jobs, or are even qualified for them. Many roles will require some level of retraining, so the workplace needs to be prepared for this.

The workplace is transforming

Edy believes there will be a transformation, but we need to understand which jobs we might lose, and which we are going to gain.

“My daughter is turning 23 and will be looking for a job soon and this is exactly the same advice I gave her, you have to know roughly where the trajectory is, what type of future jobs will be and how will I need to be able to transition and that is relevant.”

If the Chief Research Scientist at Accenture Labs provides that advice to his daughter, we at Box News will take it too.

Start with diversity to shape a preferred future

Start with diversity to shape a preferred future

Start with diversity to shape a preferred future

By Alasdair Munn for Box  News

At Box Media, we champion diversity and responsible AI development. Our CEO, Clare, spoke to Julieta Collart, Foresight Strategist at the Shaping the Future Program at Accenture Labs, about the importance of having a diverse team, skills, and perspectives in building out programmes that look to the future.

A strategic approach to the future

For Julieta, one of the elements that brings value to the Shaping the Future Program is the fact that Accenture Labs is a multi-disciplinary organisation.

“We have people with backgrounds in AI, digital experience and anthropology, who are from different levels, of different ages, and bring those different perspectives to envision what the world could be as a more robust whole.”

On strategic insight, Julieta feels:

“The strength of a good strategy is in imagining and including all these different perspectives so that we can intentionally choose a path forward.”

If we are to shape the future, we need to do so thoughtfully and inclusively.

View the interview for the full story, and let us know your thoughts on Twitter.