“The best or worst thing to happen to humanity” – Stephen Hawking launches Centre for the Future of Intelligence


Artificial intelligence has the power to eradicate poverty and disease or hasten the end of human civilisation as we know it – according to a speech delivered by Professor Stephen Hawking this evening.



Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many.
Stephen Hawking



Speaking at the launch of the £10million Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI) in Cambridge, Professor Hawking said the rise of AI would transform every aspect of our lives and was a global event on a par with the industrial revolution.

CFI brings together four of the world’s leading universities (Cambridge, Oxford, Berkeley and Imperial College, London) to explore the implications of AI for human civilisation. Together, an interdisciplinary community of researchers will work closely with policy-makers and industry investigating topics such as the regulation of autonomous weaponry, and the implications of AI for democracy.

“Success in creating AI could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation,” said Professor Hawking. “But it could also be the last – unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers like powerful autonomous weapons or new ways for the few to oppress the many.

“We cannot predict what we might achieve when our own minds are amplified by AI. Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one – industrialisation.”

The Centre for the Future of Intelligence will initially focus on seven distinct projects in the first three-year phase of its work, reaching out to brilliant researchers and connecting them and their ideas to the challenges of making the best of AI. Among the initial research topics are: ‘Science, value and the future of intelligence’; ‘Policy and responsible innovation’; ‘Autonomous weapons – prospects for regulation’ and ‘Trust and transparency’.

The Academic Director of the Centre, and Bertrand Russell Professor of Philosophy at Cambridge, Huw Price, said: “The creation of machine intelligence is likely to be a once-in-a-planet’s-lifetime event. It is a future we humans face together. Our aim is to build a broad community with the expertise and sense of common purpose to make this future the best it can be.”

Many researchers now take seriously the possibility that intelligence equal to our own will be created in computers within this century. Freed of biological constraints, such as limited memory and slow biochemical processing speeds, machines may eventually become more intelligent than we are – with profound implications for us all.

AI pioneer Professor Maggie Boden (University of Sussex) sits on the Centre’s advisory board and spoke at this evening’s launch. She said: “AI is hugely exciting. Its practical applications can help us to tackle important social problems, as well as easing many tasks in everyday life. And it has advanced the sciences of mind and life in fundamental ways. But it has limitations, which present grave dangers given uncritical use. CFI aims to pre-empt these dangers, by guiding AI development in human-friendly ways.”

“Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars or a computer game winning at the game of Go, are signs of what’s to come,” added Professor Hawking. “The rise of powerful AI will either be the best or the worst thing ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which. The research done by this centre is crucial to the future of our civilisation and of our species.”

Transcript of Professor Hawking’s speech at the launch of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, October 19, 2016

“It is a great pleasure to be here today to open this new Centre. We spend a great deal of time studying history, which, let’s face it, is mostly the history of stupidity. So it is a welcome change that people are studying instead the future of intelligence.

Intelligence is central to what it means to be human. Everything that our civilisation has achieved, is a product of human intelligence, from learning to master fire, to learning to grow food, to understanding the cosmos.

I believe there is no deep difference between what can be achieved by a biological brain and what can be achieved by a computer. It therefore follows that computers can, in theory, emulate human intelligence — and exceed it.

Artificial intelligence research is now progressing rapidly. Recent landmarks such as self-driving cars, or a computer winning at the game of Go, are signs of what is to come. Enormous levels of investment are pouring into this technology. The achievements we have seen so far will surely pale against what the coming decades will bring.

The potential benefits of creating intelligence are huge. We cannot predict what we might achieve, when our own minds are amplified by AI. Perhaps with the tools of this new technological revolution, we will be able to undo some of the damage done to the natural world by the last one — industrialisation. And surely we will aim to finally eradicate disease and poverty. Every aspect of our lives will be transformed. In short, success in creating AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilisation.

But it could also be the last, unless we learn how to avoid the risks. Alongside the benefits, AI will also bring dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It will bring great disruption to our economy. And in the future, AI could develop a will of its own — a will that is in conflict with ours.

In short, the rise of powerful AI will be either the best, or the worst thing, ever to happen to humanity. We do not yet know which. That is why in 2014, I and a few others called for more research to be done in this area. I am very glad that someone was listening to me!

The research done by this centre is crucial to the future of our civilisation and of our species. I wish you the best of luck!”

[University of Cambridge]

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , ,
Watch a fully autonomous Tesla drive through the city and find a parking spot

Fully autonomous Teslas are getting closer to reality. Yesterday, the electric carmaker announced that all new vehicles will come with extra hardware to support “full self-driving capabilities,” and this morning, the company posted a video showing exactly what that hardware can do.

The self-driving software is not finished and has yet to be approved by regulators, but the four-minute clip is nonetheless impressive, showing a Tesla leaving a garage, driving across town, and finding its own parking spot — all autonomously. There is someone sat in the driver’s seat, as per current legal requirements, but they never touch the wheel. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who posted the clip to Twitter, notes that the car is even smart enough to driver past a disabled parking spot, knowing it’s not allowed to park there. He also highlighted the car’s summon function:




All of this technology is a long way from being implemented, but it does raise some interesting questions. Like, what happens if you summon a Tesla on your phone then get on a train — will the car follow you round indefinitely, or will it only drive to the initial summon location? And when is someone going to mod this function so owners can whistle to call their Tesla, like summoning a horse in a video game? It’s all to come.

[The Verge]

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , , ,
5 Things That Could Damage Your Personal Brand



If you want to develop a savvy, successful personal brand, avoid these overlooked offenders.


At risk of stating the obvious, your personal brand should say a lot about you. In fact, when done well, it IS your essence to a core and everything you want to portray. Regardless of who you are or what you do, you have a personal brand—even if you don’t realize it.  The sooner you realize this, the sooner you can take the necessary steps to developing your public persona in a way that breeds success and develops a following.

There’s no room for personal brand sloppiness in the success-driven economy. If you want to make a mark while simultaneously building your business, you must craft your personal brand with intention.

But sometimes, despite those best intentions, efforts to build your personal brand could be backfiring. Why? Simply, we don’t know what we don’t know—and it’s in the “not knowing” that trouble can brew.

Here are the 5 fastest ways to damage your personal brand without even trying.


  • Inappropriate images

One of the quickest ways to damage your personal brand is to post unflattering photos of yourself on your social media platforms. Unfortunately, we live in a judgmental society. As consumers, we want to put things in a box because it helps us make decisions. You don’t want your audience putting you in the wrong box.

Instead: Be sure to make your photos consistent across all platforms and social channels. This subconsciously shows audiences that they can trust you, that you are the same person wherever you are.


  • Outdated content and images

Outdated content gives the appearance that you’ve shut down and are no longer relevant to the bigger conversation.

Instead: Regularly posting content shows that you are active, relevant, and in-the-know. Leaders don’t have an occasional word to say, they have a point of view on just about everything. They aren’t just involved in conversations—they lead them. Make sure to keep your blogs, podcasts, social channels (and images) updated to create a voice people can depend on.


  • Unbranded assets

Nobody thinks their kid is ugly, so it’s difficult to look at your personal brand objectively. Many people “design” their assets based upon their own taste rather than what will resonate with an audience. How are you perceived? What are you known for? What do people say about you when you’re not in the room? These are things that need to be considered when producing any creative elements that are associated with your brand, such as logo, business card, wardrobe, or website. Having generic elements as part of your brand drives down your credibility.

Instead: Create a logo that defines you and your brand. Don’t clip-art it—it’s elementary and a very bad judgment call. Create a web presence that elicits a ‘wow!’ from visitors. Your logo and web design, colors, line styles and other qualities should align with how you want people to see you. As visual people, logos really do make an impact.


  • Neglected website

Outdated websites are a drain on your reputation. Nobody wants to follow somebody who is supposedly savvy, but has a website that feels like it stepped out of the ‘90s.

Instead: Review your website and ensure that it portrays the same ‘you’ that you want the world to see. Your audience is always evolving, which is why you should be ahead of that curve. Let your website do the speaking to prove your savvy leader style. Don’t just be on top of trends—be ahead of them.


  • Over-promoting yourself

Have you ever heard the saying, “If you don’t toot your own horn, you’ll never get ahead”? There’s a fine line between telling others about yourself and what you stand for, and only talking about yourself and your accomplishments. Find a balance between sharing pieces of yourself and demonstrating your knowledge so you don’t come off as bragging or narcissistic. Promotion is necessary—to a degree. But too much promotion looks gimmicky and like you’re just out for a dollar—and will say anything to get it.

Instead: As a business leader, your goal is to serve (and make a profit of course). Keep your vision of meeting others needs front and center and focus on how you can help in the conversation.

Brands are funny things because they can be really difficult to capture. Personal brands are no exception. They need to be nurtured and reviewed on a regular basis. Once you get your personal brand where you want it to be, make sure to keep an eye on it for potential kinks in its armor. You need to look in the mirror once in awhile and ensure nothing has changed and if anything has, it should be reflected in both your online and offline presence. Be mindful of the collective impression and mutterings about you to ensure your brand is perceived exactly as you want it to be. Remember, you get to influence that perception—if you choose. [Inc]

October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , , , , , ,
Science Says Introverts Lead the Best Companies

getty_104821246_2000139720009280180_115677 CREDIT: Getty Images


Should we really be looking for great, big personalities to run the company?


You know what it takes to succeed in business–you’ve got to command respect. Ooze leadership. Bleed charisma. Take control from the minute you walk in the room.

At least, that’s the stereotypical successful CEO in a nutshell.

We’re conditioned from early education to believe that the traits typically associated with extroversion are desirable if we want to be leaders in business: openness, outgoing nature, and oodles and oodles of confidence.

We’re taught to speak authoritatively; to be fantastic orators. We’re told to project confidence. Own the room.

After all, it takes a great, big personality to dominate a negotiation, inspire an investor, or motivate an entire company of workers.

What if that didn’t really matter after all?

Scary thought, right? How would we know what to look for in a company leader?

Well, a recent study by researchers at Harvard, Stanford and the University of Chicago and published by the National Bureau of Economic Research suggests we might have been looking at our leaders all wrong. In their study of 4,591 CEOs, they found that companies run by introverted CEOs outperformed their peers. In fact, publicly traded companies run by extroverts averaged a 2% lower return on assets.




It’s crazy, right?

I mean, extroversion is great. We love extroverts–they’re entertaining, inspiring and fun to be around.

Even so, it seems that introverts might still have the edge when it comes to business prowess. How can this be?

First of all, the study authors warn, we should be careful not to confuse correlation with causation. More research needs to be done to count out factors that could skew the results, such as the tendency to choose CEOs based on personality traits in the first place. Companies that seek out big personalities to lead during times of turmoil might very well have failed or underperformed anyway.

Yet all the way back in 2004, Rakesh Khurana took a deep dive into the CEO selection process in Searching for a Corporate Savior: The Irrational Quest for Charismatic CEOs (Princeton University Press) and shone a light on the disturbing trend towards hiring based on personality. It was the first time we saw real evidence of this proclivity for choosing CEOs based not on their experience or demonstrated successes, but on their charisma. He concluded that the labor market for CEOs is a lot less rational than many think.

Considering the massive amount of money CEOs are paid, it’s definitely worth making sure you have the best candidate lined up–not just the most impressive or likeable in person. Sure, you want a powerful orator and motivator at the helm, but at the end of the day, performance is what really matters.

And that’s where introverts can really shine. They’re fantastic listeners, great storytellers and often approach problems in creative ways. Introverted bosses give their employees more leeway in developing their own ideas, says researcher Adam Grant, and they tend to be great collaborators.

Because they don’t have that great, big extroverted and out-there personality to woo a hiring panel, introverted CEO candidates rely on their experience and past performance to win the position. It sounds like that’s what we should be looking for anyway!


October 21, 2016 / by / in , , , , ,
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