Friday Faves – What We’re Reading This Week
Friday Faves is our weekly blog series highlighting a few select pieces from the REG team’s reading lists. You can catch up on past Friday Faves on the archive.
The Dark Secret at the Heart of AI
Jakkii says: AI has a dirty little secret: the more sophisticated the neural network developed for deep learning, the more inscrutable it is to humans – including the engineers who designed and built it. If the complexity of the neural network precludes us from seeking understanding through examination, how, then, can we understand the decision-making of a machine that can’t explain itself to us? And if deep learning leads AI to make a decision it cannot provide reasoning for, how do humans trust the decision? Perhaps for a simple task such as recommending a movie we may not care so much, but what about diagnostic and care recommendation decisions in medicine? What about decisions regarding terrorist threats? Or directing soldiers – or drones, or autonomous vehicles – at war?
This piece explores some of the current research into understanding AI’s deep learning and decision-making; and how we might work to program AI to not only learn, but to explain itself, perhaps even learn to collaborate with human beings – a concept also explored in HBR’s ‘There Will Always Be Limits to How Creative a Computer Can Be.” The Dark Secret… author met also with philosopher Daniel Dennett, who suggests we will need to be as cautious about the decisions of AI as we are of the decisions made by one another.
“If it can’t do better than us at explaining what it’s doing,” he says, “then don’t trust it.”
Would you trust a machine to make decisions for you, and act on those decisions, if you had no way of knowing the basis for those decisions?
The Founder of LinkedIn Says Too Many of Us Are Using the Site All Wrong
Nat says: Do not be fooled by the clickbait title of this article. I am sharing it to highlight an all too common belief that many technology designers, and organisational decision makers, hold about technology in relation to how they expect people to use it. Technological determinism is in itself an interesting phenomenon. It is the age-old ‘build it and they will come’ mantra in which we have a piece of technology, and we expect people to use it in the way we have designed. However, LinkedIn is a certain type of software in that it enables people to use it in a variety of different ways, which are often ways that are most meaningful to each individual user.
The article is about author Keith Ferrazzi’s experience of meeting Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman, and being told that the way he was using LinkedIn was “all wrong”. Instead of connecting with anyone and everyone, Hoffman claimed that the intent behind the networking platform was to allow members to have “at least one quality introduction a month”. Although Hoffman may have reasons for this belief, it does not remove the realities for how people currently use the platform. LinkedIn’s usage helps to define what LinkedIn “is” based on what people “do” on there.
It is common for us to create mandates and attach them to a piece of technology. This happens so often in the workplace that it has become the basis for my PhD. Why do we assign meaning to certain types of software which, by their defining characteristics, can have no defined way to enforce how people use it? A similar analogy would be to tell someone living in their own home that they are using their rooms and appliances all wrong. Usage of any technology (digital or otherwise – yes, your house is a type of technology) is a social practice. If you want to connect with 500+ people on LinkedIn, I suggest you keep doing just that. Who am I – or Reid Hoffman – to tell you otherwise?
Why Social Media Isn’t Always Very Social
“Of course, Facebook didn’t invent social anxiety”.
Emilio says: It can be the irony of social media. Sharing on social is meant to make us connected with friends and loved ones – but for some people, logging on to their social platform of choice can make them feel isolated, envious, anxious and – generally – worse. I like how this interview talked about how overly dwelling on what is seen on social media can instil FOMO (the fear of missing out) amongst a ‘vulnerable’ group of people, as comparisons of their lives with those that they see of their friends ensue. But before we demonise social media entirely, it needs to be made clear that the disconnected and isolated lot examined in the interview was merely a subset – and not all social media users fall into this trap.
This leads to my key point: Connecting on social media is wonderful, but if you really want to form meaningful connections, make time to actually catch up with friends face-to-face. The same principle, in fact, can be applied to impactful social media marketing. One of the key lessons I learnt working in a digital agency many years ago was this: the best campaigns are those that take online conversations into offline opportunities. Brands engaging with audiences on social media are great – but those engaging with their followers, customers both current and potential, clientele, suppliers and stakeholders, in the real world, earn a bigger tick and leave a more lasting mark.
P.S. People who are social online, as well as offline, are the best connections you’ll ever have!
The CHECKPOINT Series
Joel says: This week my Friday fave isn’t about an article I read during the week, but instead is an attempt to spread awareness of a Kickstarter campaign that kicked off yesterday and is being quickly spread among the games industry here in Australia. The series will be created by the people at CheckPoint. CheckPoint is a non-profit organisation which acts to connect mental health resources with video games and technology.
CHECKPOINT the series is a webseries: Raising awareness about mental health issues and helping those affected, using the power of video games.
Research shows that people are much more likely to use the internet to look up their symptoms and try to help themselves, than they are to go to a doctor. We want to help these people to understand what they’re going through, find the resources that are right for them, and let them know – you are not alone.
The series focuses on identifying different types of mental illness and how to get help if needed. The second focus of the series is in-depth interviews with game developers and games media discussing issues such as personal mental health struggles, how they have made games to help people struggling with mental illness, and spreading awareness of different illnesses.
If you would like to check out the Kickstarter campaign or even back the project yourself, visit the link below to view the great campaign video and the various reward tiers.