TEDx Presentation on Artificial You

Several months ago I delivered a TEDx presentation on Artificial You and your Artificial friends. The presentation had great interest amongst the listeners. Therefore I’m sharing both the speach itself and the video to it.

TEDx Aurimas Paulius Gircys

All my life I have been passionate about digital. Now I live my life building online customer paths, helping my clients sell cars, houses and smartphones. Whenever I have a chance, I share this experience with my university students or in international conferences.
Both as an advertiser and a professor I notice how much potential there is in technology. It allows me to deliver an exam online and enables me relax on the beach instead of grading the tests. They are being graded by themselves. 🙂 At the same time I can pop up my phone and have a Skype-call with my brother who stays in Germany. I can run a Hangout and post it on YouTube instead of coming to the lecture. And this is what I did last year, when I left to Mobile World Congress. I created a YouTube video explaining the topic of my class and the students could watch it whenever they wanted. To be honest, the video attendance was 120%, because some students watched it several times. Technology is enabling. It enables us to have access to all the great minds and ideas around the world and at the same time spend that time playing Clash of Clans. It allows us do fact checks – for example, I will be talking about Turing Test and you can do a fact check, if I made a mistake. This is the reason why I never force my students to put the phones into pockets or close their laptop lids. Technology is enabling. It enables us to make our own life so much easier. It also enables us care more about our family members. For example, a friend of mine has a child and he always does Facebook check on the parents of his child’s friends. Sounds creepy 🙂 ? He wants his kid to grow and develop. In fact I think that he would prefer buying friends for his child. He believes that he would help a child develop and make better decisions in future. What if this friend is artificial? A robot so to say that helps your child develop skills that one will need in future? Would you buy a friend who would help you get better at Tennis or Math? I would 🙂

In fact, the only scary thing about this idea is that this friend is artificial. But what if you could not distinguish a real human from an artificial. In fact this is already done. A Turing test – ultimate test to identify a program from a human was passed this year and a program was so great at answering all the questions that the group of experts could not distinguish it from a 13 year old boy. Turing test was passed. It means that artificial intelligence is so advanced that programs can now become your classmates.

This brings so much potential. It means that eventually even in your virtual study classes You will be collaborating not only with other humans, but also with programs, who will try to cheat, will want to be your friends and will have great goals for their lives. Currently if You take classes at Coursera you get to collaborate with people from all around the world. I took one class myself and I was so amazed with the scope and magnitude – 700 teams with 5 people per team developing business ideas. This is such a Think Tank! And with artificial classmates you can have all this on every possible topic starting from business strategy and ending with cooking. I don’t have to grade the exams anymore, so to be honest I don’t mind if I have 200 or 7000 students in my virtual class. And if I do a bad job, I can be replaced with an artificial better me.
This brings so much potential and greatness. For example there is a chance that some of us would not have gotten admitted to university because a superior program student would have better grades. Are you prepared to share your classrooms with virtual students? What if you failed exams because artificial students would study more? Will you care and be digitofobic, or will you embrace the potential?

You won’t need old school communication. Facebook and Snapchat will look as ancient as Egyptian pyramids look today. And that’s fine because your friends and student colleagues will be replaced by algorithms anyway. And not only friends, but also employees and employers. Currently it is still a moonshot away, but algorithms are already in our daily use. How do you know if a letter you received was written by a person or an algorithm? Currently there is both primitive random text generation software and advanced versions that help you write content using special keywords. Most of such software is used to create dummy websites with loads of banners. They have a single purpose – make sure that You find them on search engine and visit the site. But if applied in studies and created by artificial intelligence such papers have a potential of being more unique than anything that we create.
In advertising we already use event based advertising automation. For example right now one campaign is waiting for weather to reach 30 degrees and then it will suggest ice-cream on Facebook. Another client is waiting for snow and will announce instant sale. It doesn’t matter if it snows in December or Tomorrow. Such automation replaces human factor not only in advertising, but also in social conversations. How many of You really know whether somebody retweeting your tweet is a human or a bot? You don’t care, thus your everyday social conversations can be replaced with algorithms and your actions can be observed by agents in order to simulate your conversation and actions while you are outside on the beach. For example last year I spent two weeks actively engaging in social network discussions while at the same time being without Internet on an island in Greece. All due to automation and agents, that observed my behavior and learned from it in order to behave like I would. In fact there is a solution, called LivesOn, which detects that You might be dead and starts Tweeting on your behalf in order to sustain your Digital Afterlife. Scary, right..? One day you might be dead and your friends won’t even notice.
But the beauty of it lies in the potential. Would You pay for a computer program that would take your classes and pass exams while you went skiing or snowboarding? I would.
Problem is that if you miss the classes and skip all the boring things that You do while studying, your friends might chose to invite a computer program to their birthday instead of You. Because the program was the one that cheated together on the exam of law and the program was the one that sent this automated, but very unique birthday text, while You were snowboarding.

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