Global trends, futures, and strategy advisor Olaf Groth is the founder of the Cambrian Group think tank. In the first half, he discussed the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and how humans will be affected it. AI is essentially "software algorithms that mimic functions of the brain," and he is somewhat optimistic that, in spite of potential pitfalls, it will lead to better and richer lives, and more growth in the economy and society. As we engage in a "cognitive future," we can view AI as a partner to our human decision making, he remarked. This technology can be used for smarter traffic management, Groth added, and as we move toward automated driving, computer vision involving such things as LIDAR, laser radar, and AI, can see miles ahead-- a much more comprehensive view than the human brain can grasp.
A problematic trend in social media that Groth has observed is that the software's AI algorithms serve to reinforce people's existing mindsets. This, he said, creates more divisiveness, and less ability to understand other's point of view. Another concern is the way AI is being used in places like China to regulate the behavior of the population. Some 174 million facial recognition cameras around China "are designed to stabilize society and make sure people don't misbehave," he reported. Groth believes that we are far away from the kind of AI superintelligence that might pose a threat like 'Skynet,' but we have to remain critical and cautious as the technology develops.
Bestselling author of narrative nonfiction, Giles Milton, relies on personal testimonies, diaries, journals, and letters to tell the story of key moments in history, recounted through the eyes of those who were there. In the latter half, he spoke about the first 24 hours of the D-Day invasion, an epic battle on June 6, 1944 that involved 156,000 men, 7,000 ships and 20,000 armored vehicles along a 50-mile stretch of the French coastline. The Allied forces were victorious that day because of their overwhelming air power, as well as their battleships bombarding the shore with huge shells, knocking out German strongholds.
The Allies tricked the Germans by coming in at low tide so they could see the German beach defenses that would normally be underwater, Milton explained, "but in another way it meant these young soldiers had to run for hundreds of yards of beach" while under machine gun fire before they could get to the protection of the sea wall. D-Day and WWII saw for the first time the accelerated use of special forces, Milton cited, which has continued in subsequent wars. In going through the Allied soldiers' accounts, many were just kids taken out of high school, who became part of a most ferocious army that day. When they returned from the war, they had little support to process the traumas they'd endured, and some went to the grave never telling their stories.