Conversations are fascinating, they start on a subject matter and then veer off into other data points of subjects, gradually evolving into one universe. So, it was with this conversation that I started with Ayomide Onasanya, the Founder of Acumen Digital, where I was asking him about specific thoughts in AI & Design Thinking. After a while, our conversation started peeking into other topics like Mixed Reality, IoT and I grabbed my recorder because I was having such a good time I felt it was worth recording, transcribing and sharing on the blog.
Here’s a transcribed version of that conversation:
Gbemi: So, you were saying AI is going to change reality as we know it.
Ayo: Reality, as we know it today, will get tweaked – for example, the current position of a person is their reality. We are here right now, this is our reality now, having this conversation. People on the other side of the building or street have another reality that they are dealing with, different from yours. In future, what’s going to happen is mixed reality, that the same way we have Google Maps with still images on the Maps – what we’ll have is video-like Google Maps.
Gbemi: Like live-mapping?
Ayo: Yes, exactly. You’ll be able to see that a shop is doing black Friday and there are 5 people on the queue. Which means if you get to the store now, you’ll most likely be the 6th or 7th person.
So, reality at that point in time is skewed. What do you then consider as reality? Especially when we consider augmented reality. You place a camera in one part of a room and drag an element to your own phone, changing the entirety of the image or video. I can drag an element onto this couch that was hitherto empty and change everything about that couch.
This same thing will be applied into the normal or normative reality, especially when we add Internet of Things into the mix. You can literally time travel, go to the beach and have parallel experiences while at your house. Reality is therefore skewed at that point in time. And sometimes, I wonder if the next generation of humans will be able to decipher what is real and what isn’t, because if you are able to sit in your house and be capable of having a skydiving experience, then reality becomes tweakable.
Gbemi: So, we are going to have a doomsday conspiracy? LOL
Ayo: Well, it’s not all conspiracy theories. There are great and diverse possibilities to MR, AR & IoT. I think about the positive effects Mixed Reality will have on people with disability, they can have the experience of playing football. He/she can use the experience to, for example, dribble Messi on the field and score a last-minute winning goal.
However, as much as it holds a lot of possibilities, there are also some downsides to it.
Gbemi: Yes yes. You mentioned how IoT plays into this downside. I’d like to focus on that for a bit.
Ayo: So, your wristwatch or device is plugged into everything.
Gbemi: So, it makes it easier to hack.
Ayo: Yes, for example, we will eventually have cars that run on different platforms/operating systems – android etc. And we’ve have had Android, Apple have all sorts of leaks in the past. It means that your car can be hacked while you are driving and redirected to another location.
Gbemi: Hahaha. Interestingly, this was the focal point of the last episode of The Simpsons. Homer Simpson got a job at a self-driving car company – funny name “CarGo”, and after a while, he and his wife discovered that the car was listening in on their conversations, such that if they talked about burgers, the car would take them to the burger place that… wait for it…had paid the most for keywords – showing us that brands will basically own us.
Ayo: I love that scenario. There was this research that showed or posited that Marketers have a way of ruining everything.
Gbemi: I shouldn’t be agreeing, but that’s correct.
Ayo: I mean look at Newspapers, Internet, Telephone. Name the tech, Marketers will ruin it. It comes with the nature of finding ways to make people buy.
Gbemi: It’s like we are being sucked into a Marketing black hole.
Ayo: Yes, a black hole indeed. To build on that. AI gets tricky with VX (Voice Experience), when you are designing a car you have to think about real life scenarios, right? I’m sitting inside a self-driving car and there’s a zebra crossing, the car stops. How does the pedestrian know that the car is stopping for him/her to go? How does the car communicate or interact with the world outside?
If for example, the car sees that an accident is about to happen and there are 5 people walking and he calculates that crashing into one person in a few seconds will cause minimal damage and save 4-5 lives. How is it determining who to crash into? Say there are 3 white people and 2 black people, does the car choose to crash into a black person based on ‘creator’s bias’? Or does it make that decision at random? What’s its decision stemming out of? Because we’ll run into a problem where a machine is thinking like me (the creator) for everybody, which is obviously submerged in my own prejudices and biases.
I like the Simpson example you gave. If a car is listening in to your conversations, who is actually listening on the other end? Who is collecting the data and analyzing it? What are they analyzing the data for?
Gbemi: Haha. Sorts of remind of the Alan Turing role during World War 2.
This is what keeps standing out for me mentally in this conversation. If we are saying that we are building machines to help us predict and then correct errors and human fallibilities, it looks like after a while, we are going to start living our lives to fit into how machines think, which ends up defeating the whole purpose of developing them in the first place.
The Singularity is upon us! Hahaha.
Ayo: Yep. We need to be careful, as these things come with so much responsibility.
Gbemi: Wait. I just realized with that Car example – we are saying that cities have to be designed to fit into machine thinking.
Ayo: You know! It’s crazy. Imagine a driverless car in Lagos.
Gbemi: Please. Maybe on the island. The moment that car crosses Third Mainland Bridge into the mainland, the end is nigh.
This was not the conversation we started out on having. Lol.
Ayo: Hahaha. Hilarious yeah? Back to Mixed Reality. That’s already a thing that is upon us.
Gbemi: Yes, I mean PokemonGo went wild a while back.
Ayo: Exactly! How did I forget PokemonGo? It uses augmented reality in its real sense for its gaming. And people looked stupid, especially to the older generation when they were playing it. I mean why will you be running after something that you can’t see physically? So, what then is real in the world of Mixed Reality? There are people who died playing PokemonGo.
It’s funny their intention was to create a game that would make people go out, instead of sitting in front of a screen like the normal video games we know and play.
Gbemi: Well, real life comes at you so fast.
Ayo: The future is filled with so many possibilities and so many biases. We need to keep looking at balancing the things we are building.
Gbemi: I’m going to turn off the recorder now so that transcribing can be easy for me.