Rockford Lhotka's Blog

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 Monday, 14 May 2018

At Build 2018 Satya Nadella announced a new "AI for Accessibility" program. Having had a few days since then, I have a couple ways I think about this.

One is personal. A little over 2 years ago I had major surgery, including about 15% chance of being partially paralyzed as a result. Fortunately the surgery went well and paralysis didn’t happen, but it got me thinking about the importance of technology and software as an equalizer in life. Something like partial paralysis often ends people’s lives as they know it. With technology though, there’s the very real possibility of people with severe medical conditions living life at a level they never could without those technologies.

The other way I think about this is from the perspective of Magenic. We build custom software for our clients. Sometimes that software is fairly run-of-the-mill business software. Sometimes it is part of a solution that has direct impact on making people’s lives better, in big or small ways. When you get to work on a project that makes people’s lives better, that’s amazingly rewarding!

Every time I’ve had the opportunity to talk to Satya I’ve been impressed by his thoughtfulness and candor. As a result, when I hear him talk about ethical and responsible computing and AI, I believe he’s sincerely committed to that goal. And I very much appreciate that perspective on his part.

Again, veering a bit into my personal life, I read a lot of science fiction, speculative fiction, and cyberpunk. A great deal of that literature deals with the impacts of unfettered technology and AI; consequences both miraculous and terrifying. I also don’t dismiss the (non-fiction) concept of a potential “singularity”, where technology (via transhumanism or AI) results in a whole new class of being that is beyond simple humanity. Yeah, I know, I might have gone off the deep end there, but I think there’s a very real probability that augmented humans and/or AI will transform the world in ways we can’t currently comprehend.

Assuming any of this comes to pass, we can’t understate the need to approach AI and human augmentation in an ethical and thoughtful manner. Our goal must be to improve the state of mankind through the application of these technologies.

The fact that Microsoft is publicly having these conversations, and is putting money behind their words, is an important step in the right direction.

Monday, 14 May 2018 09:23:38 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
 Friday, 20 April 2018

On Saturday April 21, 2018 I'm giving a talk at TCCC about WebAssembly (my current favorite topic).

Friday, 20 April 2018 15:14:44 (Central Standard Time, UTC-06:00)  #    Disclaimer
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