1984, Alfred Nobel, And Artificial Intelligence

I have written that I want to make a positive contribution to this world and when I work on machine learning and artificial intelligence. Does it fit together? What is the positive contribution of artificial intelligence today?

Amazon Alexa, Google Home, Apple Siri, self-driving cars, intelligent websites bring a wave of artificial intelligence that is just beginning to emerge. In the media, these are often criticized. Is the permissive handling of our data justifiable? Without our data, without a lot of data, machine learning and artificial intelligence do not work. Are we ready to pay this price?

If you want to deal with artificial intelligence, then I recommend you read the novel “1984” by George Orwell. Orwell wrote it in 1947/1948, it was published in 1949, and it is more relevant than ever. “Big Brother is watching you!” In this novel, we accompany Winston, who works at the Ministry of Truth and rewrites newspaper articles, predicting that the government will be true in the archive, even if it does not happen. And like all citizens, Winston is watched day and night via telescreens in his home and at work. The telescreens are reminiscent of devices such as Amazon Alexa, who are also listening – and soon watching, as the telescreens in the novel “1984”. What appeared as crazy science fiction years ago, is happening today. Read the novel and picture the world that we could create with artificial intelligence.

New technologies are neutral. Like a kitchen knife. It can be used for cooking, or it can hurt people. Both the good and the bad are possible. Alfred Nobel invented dynamite to do something good. He wanted to simplify mining. He did that too. But then dynamite was also used to wage wars. This has bothered Nobel so much that he used his fortune to make the Nobel prizes possible.

Every new technology is in this dichotomy. Since the Stone Age. The spear provided food when an animal was killed. And he was also used for fighting between humans. The same sides exist in the steam engine, electricity, engines, airplanes, nuclear fission, whatever.

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are also capable of making people’s lives easier, autonomous vehicles will make the roads safer, and we will not waste time in congestion, but use it. The downsides could be comprehensive monitoring and transparency of my data. Who knows?

I am looking forward to working with new technologies. I think the world will get a little better in the end. “Technology as a force for good,” said VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. That’s true. But we also need to reflect and consider ethical issues. The ethics of new technologies, that is a field of its own, an important field. We must be careful that we do not neglect that with all progress.

This is a core theme for my work at VMware.

My Way to Artificial Intelligence And Machine Learning

One of my personal goals is to make a positive contribution in this world. For me, this includes volunteer work, to support family and friends, but also my job as a VMware employee.

People spend money on things that improve their lives. Companies offer these things which can be products or services.

In this context I consider artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML). Can AI/ML help create better products and services? Can AI/ML make a positive contribution to people’s lives? For many, this is an open question. There are advocates and skeptics. I assume that the answer is “yes”.

Then the question follows: How can I help with my work at VMware?

VMware is a company that offers modern IT infrastructures. IT infrastructures are the backbone for companies. Companies use IT infrastructure to manage their products, their customer data, their processes and communication. And more and more companies are using IT infrastructures to improve their products, or even to offer entirely new products and services. And these products or services should ideally improve people’s lives.

Now, if a business wants to use AI/ML, it must first think about what it should be used for. What is the reason for using AI/ML? Then you need to consider which technology, which algorithms or which combination of technologies and algorithms are best suited for this requirement.

Then follows the determination of the AI/ML infrastructure. And at this point, VMware can provide its contribution. Here I can deliver my positive contribution to the world by helping to connect the dots. The potential of VMware, people, businesses, technology, ethics, and other aspects that are important in using AI/ML. It is a complex field with many attachments. AI/ML will conquer more and more areas. VMware’s contribution to the world’s IT infrastructure can be significant. I do not know what this is going to look like. It is a journey with an uncertain outcome. But it is an exciting journey.

I will document my journey. I’ll raise questions, and maybe answer a few questions. It’s my personal view of the world of new technologies.

Holiday Reading

Are guide books really superfluous? The very good books, after all, only present common sense. What should I learn? Nevertheless, they are in vogue, even with my colleagues in the Silcon Valley.

On my last visit to Palo Alto, CA, I was in the Stanford University Book Store to buy some books. This bookstore was huge, with a cafe and many young people. I felt like I was in a library. In times of eReads, it seemed like a museum where old traditions become visible. I liked this place.

holiday reading
holiday reading
Now I'm on vacation in the Black Forest and have read two of the books: On Writing Well by William Zinsser and Start With Why by Simon Sinek. The third book How To Fix The Future by Andrew Keen follows. My wife asks what these books are about. I tell her that in the book On Writing Well I learn how to write better lyrics. Use active verbs, short sentences - and especially important is the idea that I write for myself and not for others. (I need to adjust the introduction to my blog.) My wife answers that this is all self-evident, it's common sense. Why am I wasting my time with it? I should much rather read something, whereby I can let my soul dangle. A good novel or a travelogue.

My first reaction is contradiction. Then I think about whether my wife has found a good point. When I read Start With Why, I wonder how trivial the message is. If you want to move other people, then logical arguments help little. Instead, be very clear WHY you do something. Logical. Actually, that's just common sense. But why do so many companies act quite differently? Why is it often tried to win with technical arguments? Because common sense is not common, it is not common. And that's exactly why these books of adviser are popular.

Also, I may from time to be reminded of my common sense. Even if it seems to contradict general action. I will write more about it another time. Until then, I wish you much enjoyment of your reading, whatever it may be.