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Ray Kurzweil

Ray Kurzweil, popularizer of the Singularity

Once the dust settles, and we look back on the decade that has just ended, my guess is that we will come to see the countless post-Y2K promises of artificial intelligence and machine learning for what they really were: immensely successful if you go by Bloomberg tickers and ad engagement, but empty in delivering on their utopian promises. Google promised to democratize information access. Instead, its algorithms reinforced the marginalization of women and people of color, and it mostly functioned to upsell rather than enlighten. Engineers at YouTube built a personalized recommendation algorithm that has dramatically increased watch times, but has also radicalized people with fringe content and traumatized children with creepy, violent, and scatological videos. Workers on Amazon’s Mechanical Turk platform became the unseen labor force of the machine learning revolution by annotating training data in exchange for wages no one could possibly hope to live on. (A median wage of $2.75 hourly, with only 4% of workers earning over $7, rates that are theoretically unlawful but of course aren’t thanks to the... see more