SATIS Artificial Intelligence Part 1

This session was led by Trevor and centred around what he referred to as ‘weak Artificial Intelligence’ and its effects and potential effects on modern western society over the next 5 – 10 years or so. The next meeting in November will consider ‘strong AI’ and its potential effects over the next 50 years or so.

We started off brainstorming what we mean by ‘intelligence’ (the real stuff!). This is almost a philosophical discussion and as such, beyond the remit of this group, but the following words and phrases emerged;

Reasoning; Cognitive response; rationalization; problem solving; Intuitiveness; empathy; learning from experience; inquisitiveness; sensory awareness; collating information; creativity; intellect; language; memory; logic; knowledge; imagination; communication skills; learning; deduction; wisdom; thought; concept formation; analytical ability; ability to concentrate; the ability to make the most of any situation.

There was then a short discussion centred around the following questions, some of which may have further relevance to the November session;

  • Which of these characteristics / qualities are essential to intelligence?

  • Which of these characteristics could be absent from a person who in other respects would be regarded as very intelligent?

  • Which of these characteristics do we imagine could easily be built into an Artificial Intelligence system, and which would be very difficult or impossible?

Trevor then gave a short talk about Artificial intelligence as it currently exists, illustrated and informed by statistics on sheets which I’ve copied below.

\We then watched a TEDx video, link is

Mike Morris has also done some research in AI and had found a further three TEDx talks of interest and relevance; he’s sent those links to me with short descriptions so I’ve also copied those below. Thanks Mike!!

Trevor then tasked three groups to discuss different questions and feed back their thoughts to the wider groups, the following thoughts emerged from this discussion;

* Displacement of jobs will take place, having the largest impact on low skill activities.

* The pace of change is likely to be faster than during previous revolutions, and this will be disruptive.

* There is going to be increasing self-employment, with new jobs in niche areas.

* Major areas for jobs in the future will be in social and health care, and in the leisure sector (including sports, hobbies, crafts, art writing etc).

* Other areas which will be hard to automate will be teaching, design, manual trades which involve adaptable problem-solving (electrician,  plumber, decorator etc), and jobs involving one-to-one human interaction.

* If people have more leisure time, then there will be an increase in the amount of DIY, which will displace some further jobs.

* Education targetted at areas where employment is still required will be important, as will broader education to allow citizens to live rich lives when one's job may be a less crucial feature of it.

* It would make sense if people worked shorter hours, but how could this be enforced?

* A citizens' basic income has attractions, but funding it would be a challenge.

* Given the globalised nature of trade and business, effective social change to cope with the impact of automation would be much easier if there were a world government. However, this is not going to happen any time soon!

This was such an interesting meeting that we managed to go 20 minutes overtime basically by watching the clock on the wall which had stopped at 11.55!! As usual, I’ll aim to put this on the website sometime early next week, so let me know if there is anything you would like modified or added before it goes up.

Mike’s TEDx links;

Have a look at

Scared of superintelligent AI? You should be, says neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris -- and not just in some theoretical way. We're going to build superhuman machines, says Harris, but we haven't yet grappled with the problems associated with creating something that may treat us the way we treat ants.

Artificial intelligence is getting smarter by leaps and bounds -- within this century, research suggests, a computer AI could be as "smart" as a human being. And then, says Nick Bostrom, it will overtake us: "Machine intelligence is the last invention that humanity will ever need to make." A philosopher and technologist, Bostrom asks us to think hard about the world we're building right now, driven by thinking machines. Will our smart machines help to preserve humanity and our values -- or will they have values of their own?

The actual path of a raindrop as it goes down the valley is unpredictable, but the general direction is inevitable," says digital visionary Kevin Kelly -- and technology is much the same, driven by patterns that are surprising but inevitable. Over the next 20 years, he says, our penchant for making things smarter and smarter will have a profound impact on nearly everything we do. Kelly explores three trends in AI we need to understand in order to embrace it and steer its development. "The most popular AI product 20 years from now that everyone uses has not been invented yet," Kelly says. "That means that you're not late."

Trevor’s Statistics sheets;