Elon Musk is a P.T. Barnum for our times, the Great Showman: he wants to go to Mars, he draws a salary of $1 a year from Tesla (rubbing along on stock options in the meantime), and last week he embedded computer chips into the brain of a macaque monkey so that it could play “mind pong” by “thinking instead of moving its hand” (neuralink.com). But it’s not as insane as it sounds. Imagine how much this sort of technology could help someone who can’t move their hands at all…Elon Musk personifies that sort of Barnumesque, unhinged thinking, mixed with a dose of ambition that’s as likely to change our lives forever as amuse Twitter feeds for a week or so; and even though Jeff Bezos might be (and is) earning $321 Million a day at the moment, he’s still a bullet headed man in a suit by comparison. Creative disruption of the Musk kind makes a virtue of untrammelled ambition, and nowhere is it more apparent than in the complex, sometimes bewildering world of Artificial Intelligence.
The building blocks of Artificial Intelligence are Intelligent Agents: individual systems that are capable of recognising their environment and maximising the chances of success for any given operation. It sounds simple enough, and in that sense a human being (or group of human beings) is an Intelligent Agent as well, however oxymoronic it might seem if the group in question is determined to spend the evening watching The Kardashians. But you start by asking yourself, which of these Intelligent Agents is likely best to achieve the so-called “goal function”, and can it do it best alone or in conjunction with another as part of a “Multi Agent System”. The most common multi agent systems, such as Soar (www.soar.eecs.umich.edu), are deliberately created to mimic human understanding and decisionmaking in a way that would warm the cockles of Elon Musk’s heart.
Soar and Post COVID Health Systems
Robotic machines have been using Soar technologies since as long ago as the 1990’s, performing a wide range of complicated tasks, including piloting underwater vehicles: and just think about that for a moment, the inherent complexity of responding second by second, moment by moment to an uncharted, constantly changing sea bed, charting the best course forward (which means knowing where you’re going as well): Soar technologies do just that, and at the moment they’re doing it as well as, if not better than, the most skilled of human pilots.
And then we have Interactive Learning too, with Soar programmes enabling machines to learn new tasks, gain an understanding of environmental and behavioural features and engage interactively with (human and non human) instructors. A robotic attendant can now find its way around labyrinthine hospital corridors, locate a specific ward and patient, and deliver their preferred meal, medicine and newspaper (all without being asked): diagnostic procedures are quicker and more reliable too, bed management is better and staff resourcing immeasurably improved. So if, God forbid, we are ever faced with a health emergency like the COVID Pandemic again, Global Health Services will be much better prepared…thanks in large part to Artificial Intelligence and Advanced Data Analytics.
Outside healthcare, SOAR technologies can also schedule complex tasks and logistics, including (crucially at the moment) international freight transport, without in the process grounding a container vessel in the Suez Canal (and re-routing vessels at sea if there happens to be a human at the wheel when anything does get stuck in the sand). And on a more day to day basis, retail businesses faced with the challenges of COVID lockdowns over the past year have also been evolving improved Omnichannel service offerings by drawing on Artificial Intelligence: optimising pick up times, integrating stock data and improving delivery networks. That’s a major part of why Jeff Bezos can earn $321 Million a day…
Intelligent, Ethical Reasoning
And for those who still wake up in a cold sweat with chill memories of Terminator 2, these machines are capable of ethical reasoning too: minimising harm and securing low level risk environments, even building human rights networks as a platform for the future. In his seminal 2009 work, Moral Machines, Wendell Wallach coined the concept of “Artificial Moral Agents”: that’s no longer a creature of fiction either (see above).
So get ready for the future…because for the most part, it’s already here.
Red Ribbon Asset Management
Red Ribbon Asset Management (www.redribbon.co) is constantly searching for new ways to apply emerging technologies, including Blockchain, AI and Data Analytics, to achieve its MII objectives of optimal environmental and social impact consistent with above market rate returns: steadfastly committed to enhance customer experience through intelligent adoption of mainstream impact investment strategies.
It’s fascinating to track the increasing speed of new technological developments, and with the increased pace of deployment in our post COVID World it certainly pays to keep your focus firmly on the bigger picture: AI and Machine Learning are undoubtedly part of that picture.
Red Ribbon is committed to identifying and building on investment opportunities that are fully in compliance with its core Planet, People, Profit policy: not only offering above market rate returns for investors but also protecting our Natural Capital.