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Grapes of Wrath vs. AI

Grapes of Wrath vs. AI

What if John Steinbeck was 100 years younger?  Would Grapes of Wrath be retitled Data of Wrath?  Just to recap the story for those like me who said they read it in high school but…

What if John Steinbeck was 100 years younger?  Would Grapes of Wrath be retitled Data of Wrath?  Just to recap the story for those like me who said they read it in high school but really only skimmed it to find relevant quotes to use in the essay.  This story is set in the dustbowl mid west USA 1930s.  Tom Joad is recently released on parole for killing someone with a shovel.  He hitchhikes and then walks to his family home to find it abandoned and the damaged from a tractor having run through it.  He walks to his uncles farm to find the family loading up a truck to move to Beverly - no wait, that's the Beverly Hill Billies.  The Joads were heading for California to pick fruit.  I won't give it all away as it is a riveting story once you get used to the way they speak. 

The reason the Joads had to move is because the drought had meant that they had no income and couldn't pay off their loans to the banks in New York.  The banks resumed the land and forced the tenants off using tractors to push over their homes.  There was a mass exodus to California where there was supposed to be work, but there wasn't.  You can only imagine where the story goes from there. 

So what's the relevance and what has this got to do with AI?  The banks pushed tens of thousands of people off the land in search of work.  Can you imagine banks doing that sort of thing today?  Is AI the modern equivalent of the dirty thirties?  At the moment there is some concern about the advent of AI.  Notable people such as Elon Musk have raised concerns.

 

Elon Musk thinks that computers will beat humans at everything sometime between 2030 and 2040.  What does this mean?  In a 2014 research article by the Pew Research Centre, they surveyed just short of two thousand experts in robotics and AI.  The key findings of this research were:

half of these experts (48 percent) envision a future in which robots and digital agents [will] have displaced significant numbers of both blue- and white-collar workers—with many expressing concern that this will lead to vast increases in income inequality, masses of people who are effectively unemployable, and breakdowns in the social order.

Nice.  This does sound a little ominous.  What I take from this is that 52% of these experts didn't think that it was as bad as all that.  It does, however,  give some weight to the Grapes of Wrath analogy.

I actually have a more optimistic outlook.  While clearly many people more intelligent and qualified than me are thinking the worst, my view is that AI will actually lead to great productivity gains and as such greater prosperity.  It will create new industries that we have yet to envision.  The work that Simient has done to date with AI supports this.  The applications that we have built allow better utilisation of scarce resources.  Enabling in demand professionals such as Ear, Nose and Throat specialists to care for more people.  These applications are not about taking peoples jobs, but about empowering professionals to effectively serve more people.  

There are many opinions on this and it can be a polarizing issue.  Where do you think that this is leading are we heading to Cali to pick fruit, or are things all rosy down on the farm?

John StevensonJohn Stevenson more

Health Innovation in 2018

Health Innovation in 2018

A recent seminar on innovation in the health industry saw three speakers put forward their ideas and experiences about progress and the potholes that lie ahead...

 

Centric…

A recent seminar on innovation in the health industry saw three speakers put forward their ideas and experiences about progress and the potholes that lie ahead...

 

Centricity: One Platform, Any Challenge

Victoria Chalmers, Executive Director of the Health Contact Centre, spoke about the planning, change management and benefits of creating a centralised platform for all HCC’s 15 services. Based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Centricity allows staff to see all customer interactions across 600,000 instances of service per year.

 

 

Are You Afraid of Robots? The Emergence of Machine Learning in Health Screening

John Stevenson, Simient’s CEO, spoke of the emergence of machine learning in health screening and examined the trend of applying machine learning to health care settings.

 

From the Practical to the Life Saving

Janet Brimson, Partner at Business Aspect, discussed challenges faced by the health sector and how health clients are using new analytics and information management approaches to address these issues. Janet also talked on how ethics plays a significant influencing role in how this data can be used.

John StevensonJohn Stevenson more

Using Machine Learning in Health

Using Machine Learning in Health

I had a mental block about artificial intelligence and machine learning. I was listening to all the media debate about people losing jobs and the threat of the robots taking over and the Singularity. I wasn't sure what to think. My exposure to AI over the years had been minimal, but what I did understand was that it was still very rudimentary and didn't bear much resemblance to literary images of Asimov's I, Robot or HAL from 2001: A Space Odyssey. The other thing that I was aware of was that the current applications require large volumes of data to be useful.

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John StevensonJohn Stevenson more

Lock 'em up!

Lock 'em up!

In my travels in Australia I am fortunate enough to meet with key people in the business of Corrections. This is a vital and often underplayed area of social services, and often the target of media attention for all the wrong reasons. It is a sector that has a number of inherent issues and it is generally not well understood by the general public. In my discussions there are several common issues that are highlighted to me, key among these include overcrowding, recidivism and the imbalance of indigenous inmates in our prisons. Comparing Australia to countries like Sweden and the Netherlands who are closing prisons because of lack of customers, we continue to build new and bigger prisons. How are some countries able to reduce their prison populations while Australia's continues to grow? There are many reasons for this, but one that several Australian jurisdictions is focused on is the introduction of a better through-care model. One enabler for better through-care is better computer based case management systems.

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John StevensonJohn Stevenson more

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