More human than human

Posted by Janisa Parag, Nancy Johnson-hunt, Matt Ellwood

More human than human

The True Planning team went on a field trip to the Doc Edge Film Festival in May and uncovered 3 big themes.

If the past is a foreign country, what is the future?

Directors Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting started with a simple premise -  to explore the current state of artificial intelligence, to be proven by creating a camera-bot that could replace their very roles. Are we witnessing the birth of a new species?” the film asks. “What will this tell us about intelligent machines… and about ourselves?”

As it turns out, More Human Than Human does say a lot about the state of AI and humanity, but ironically, while it angles toward presenting the field as just on the edge of major breakthroughs that could produce wondrous things, it winds up as more cautionary tale about the trust that we’re placing on technology to improve humanity.

Our 3 take outs:

  1. The Moral Ethics of AI – where is the line between technology helping underserved audiences and the potential to manipulate vulnerable communities?
  2. Who Controls the Infrastructure and should we be scared? 
  3. When did we become jaded about the future? 

What’s the moral ethics of AI?

More Human than Human captured a moment in time that called into question our ability as humans to impose new ways of caring for each other.If you can call it thatAfter all, can we identify the moral compass of a machine? And considering AI has already arrived in elderly care, where to from here?  The world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has introduced us to the endless possibilities for the future of humanity. As the ageing population continues to rise, the introduction of AI into elderly care has only magnified the blurred line of moral ethics. With the effects of prolonged health, meaning we’re living longer and healthier lives, healthcare providers have already begun to introduce certain parts of readily available care-pathways to AI- based automation. This is not a new concept.

You don’t even have to look far, AI can now be found in many areas of the care-pathway, when you think about Amazon Echo’s ability to monitor medication intake or FitBit’s intelligent biometric information in order to track health inconsistencies or even Starkey’s Livia hearing aids that have the ability to detect a hard fall.

In More Human than Human, we saw Hanson Robotic’s introduction of AI to the elderly, in the form of a child-like robot, the instant connection made between seniors and robots was not surprising, given their lonesome state. After days of introducing the robot into the lives of aging seniors, we saw them removed from their homes only to leave them feeling all the more lonely than they already were. However, what we didn’t witness was the long term effects of their presence.

In addition to healthcare, the category of insurance as we know is rife for disruption by AI, and it’s also an industry that’s beginning to implement AI into their future business strategies. An example of this in today’s industry highlights founders of Lemonade, a New York-based Insurtech company, raised one of the largest seed rounds in history. As insurance companies begin to underwrite fitness tracking into their healthcare policies, affecting pay-outs and policy coverage, full blown change isn’t far away. In fact by 2030, we’ll see AI take over the NZ insurance and Insurtech landscape entirely. 

What More Human than Human did was make us rethink the ability of AI to change how we view society’s most vulnerable. It’s also how the biggest industries that the we’ll come to rely on will change in the midst of the global aging population. At the end, it does beg the question, when the AI connection has been created does it have the potential to manipulate our most vulnerable?


In AI world, who controls the Infrastructure and should we be scared?  

One of the most interesting aspects of the film was the fact that AI is already part of our daily lives. The fact is all our main infrastructure – traffic, air traffic, electricity is run by AI.

Artificial intelligence might conjure images of Minority Report or the Six Billion Man. Yet the impact of artificial intelligence in everyday life is more understated and far-reaching than science fiction might suggest.

Artificial intelligence has the potential to offer $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030. You already encounter it every day. Think of all those times Amazon recommended a book to you or Netflix suggested a film or TV show. Those recommendations are based on algorithms that examine what you've bought or watched. The algorithms learn from those purchases, using them to suggest other things you might enjoy. Artificial intelligence lies behind those algorithms.

AI autopilots in commercial airlines is a  surprisingly early use of AI technology that dates as far back as 1914, depending on how loosely you define autopilot. The New York Times reports that the average flight of a Boeing plane involves only seven minutes of human-steered flight, which is typically reserved only for take-off and landing.

Yet for many of us, we’d never consider this as AI. And therefore many of us would not imagine that our day to day lives are impacted by AI – and the impact if we don’t have any regulations about who owns AI infrastructure. 

Because AI infrastructure  is virtually invisible, we are far more accepting of it and don’t question who is controlling this and are they truly looking out for our best interests?

We are far more trusting of AI than we’d think. 

Has AI jaded us about the future?

When we talk about innovation, people love to bring up the fact that they thought we would have flying cars by now. That the world would look like The Jetsons and we would teleport around the place in a matter of seconds.

In 2019 people are very quick to point out all the things we don’t have, but often fail to realise the innovation that has happened under our noses. We have the entire world of knowledge in our pockets which can be accessed by just asking it a question, a feat we take for granted. While we fear the sudden arrival of super human Al and robotics, history has showed us that innovation it comes slower than we think, and sometimes we become so desensitised to innovation, we don’t even notice it appearing in front of us. Where did this fear come from? In the earliest movies about robots, these cyborgs were our friends, empowered to make our lives better. In 1977, C-3PO fast became one of the most recognized icons of the Star Wars films, and one of the kindest robots in the history of movie robots. But then as Hollywood does, in the early 2000s they looked further and asked what the potential of these Artificially Intelligent beings was if placed in the wrong hands. This led to a series of films such as Terminator, Bladerunner and iRobot, all movies which feature robots as the enemy of the human.

These movies have made the future a scary thing. But guess what? We are living in the future. The future is now, and we didn’t even realise it. If we take it one day at a time, it isn’t that scary – it is manageable. And just how we have in the last 3 revolutions, we as humans will find our place, re-invent ourselves and thrive.

Tags: Planning, DocEdge, AI, Robotics

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