04.09.24

How Countries can respond to AI advancements

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

A lot has been said by the public about what is good and bad about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Now, the South African government has spoken out about AI during the AI National Government Summit held at the University of Johannesburg during the first week in April 2024. At the same time a discussion document has also been issued out for public comment. It’s not the first time that SA has followed this approach to deal with technological advancements that may have an impact on society. This is important as well as part and parcel of government responsibility to establish the rules of the game.

It’s interesting to note however that history tells us that this has not worked in the past.

A similar approach was followed withthe 4th industrial revolution.

Since the World Economic Forum declared that the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) was the next big thing there was a move towards preparing for the big moment.

On one hand 4IR was presented as an opportunity and a threat, a commission was setup followed by a discussion document and eventually a Centre for 4IR was established.

What has been common with these approaches has been that the response is always late and it often misses the core issues that require attention. The challenge with all these technologies has been that they often originate from the US with leading tech giants being based in that region.

The AI effort is similar to previous efforts to exploit opportunities presented by tech and address the harms. The response is a bit late and seems to be missing the core. It seems something different is required. Already there’s established companies in AI from the US.

To discuss at this point and solicit views from society and thereafter map the way forward may yield similar results that we’ve seen on previous attempts as seen with 4IR.

Often countries outside the creator countries of these technologies have limited choices, to create or to use what others have created. Of course in this case the government is also trying to regulate. The challenge with this approach is simply that it’s difficult to regulate companies outside of your jurisdiction, just watch how difficult it’s been to regulate social media companies. In addition to that, tech companies have no great respect for the Africa region.

As matters stand, it seems there’s only one option left to be a creator as hard as it is. At some point the goal has to focus on creating technology. A country can still use tools from other countries in the process of building its own infrastructure. Nvidia has recently unveiled AI infrastructure that can enable Sovereign AI to ensure that a country can control its data.

This means that there’s a need to support efforts to build local technology infrastructure. Such a technology can be developed in such a way that it adheres to local values instead of embedding it to a technology developed elsewhere. This is one way of addressing concerns that may arise instead of throwing a rule book, institutions and commissions at them.

It’s better to build then talk and create institutions around local products instead of discussing things beyond local control and influence.

03.26.24

Inside the new Zoom Redesign

BY Wesley Diphoko 5 MINUTE READ

Zoom is as synonymous with video chat as Kleenex is to tissue paper. With 300 million daily meeting participants (a stat last measured in 2020), Zoom exploded during the pandemic due to its accessible design, with an interface that worked as well for C-suiters planning all-hands meetings to grandma attending a virtual wedding. Since then, it has retained a significant foothold of the social mindshare, while trying to increase its footprint in the service’s original bread and butter, the enterprise market, where it has 200,400 enterprise customers.

But while Zoom constantly introduces more features, the core experience of meetings has remained largely the same since 2020. That changes today as Zoom shares its biggest overhaul since most of us started using it. The news comes along with Zoom’s announcement of a new platform called Zoom Workplace, which will use AI to create a workspace competitive with Slack or Teams.

The project was led by Jeff Smith, head of product for Zoom Meetings, who walked me through some of the newest features—which address everything from the anxiety of sharing your screen, to the stuffiness inherent to online meetings, to the actual ability to get work done. (Spoiler: Zoom is coming for platforms like Office 365 by promising collaborative documents right inside the new Zoom interface.)

“Trying to create a single unified UI that meets the needs of a 3rd grade teacher and a software professional? These are challenging things for one interface that does all of the things and well,” says Smith.

Here are some of the most notable new features from Zoom’s coming redesign.

TWO-PERSON SPEAKING MODE

There’s nothing worse than coughing on a Zoom call, and suddenly your CEO’s face is replaced with your own.

A big reason why these situations happen is that Zoom only has two drastic view modes, “a flat gallery where everyone is equal and no one is priority, or . . . active speaker mode where one person is huge,” says Smith. “There’s a lot of room in the middle for real meetings!”

Now, Zoom is getting a multi-speaker view (a feature technically stolen from its Zoom Rooms product). It doesn’t quite solve for the stray cough, but it does select two people to sit up top in a dynamic conversation, with a view of everyone in your meeting tiled in smaller windows below. It plays off a more natural flow of conversation, where even in large meetings, a couple people might be working through an idea together.

“I can still glance at people in the meeting to see their reaction, but I’m having a conversation with you,” explains Smith.

COLOURFUL BACKDROPS, MORE PERSONALITY

It might not always feel like it at 4:30 p.m. on a Friday when you’re stuck in a meeting, but Zoom’s corporate values are “care” and “happiness.” And these are feelings that the team wanted to bake into the actual interface of the product.

Zoom is doing that by adding color to the otherwise grayscale product. You can now choose between a few different gradient backdrops, including flavors of red, blue, and green. (Frankly, more variety with some less corporately bold colors would be welcome.) “As enterprise software, it’s easy to get super conservative and nestle into the pack,” says Smith, who explains this small splash of color is actually quite bold for a company operating in this space.

Beyond simple color skinning, Zoom is also introducing a meetings view that adds a bit of color to everyone’s windows. Paired with backdrops, which could range from color gradients to scenic wallpapers like forests, the effect is more striking than it may seem. Rather than the group feeling disparate, it adds a visual cohesion that makes the meeting room feel more like a unique gathering space. It’s metaverse light.

“It adds personality to the meting,” says Smith of this update. “There’s a lot of types of meetings. Some are formal, others have a completely different feel to them, but the interface has always been uniform. How can we bring tools to the table so people can tailor the meeting experience to the type of meeting they’re having?”

Additionally, the company redrew its bottom bar of icons to “express more personality, more softness, and value of care.” Most overtly, the react icon is now a heart that’s tilted playfully to the side. Personally, I’m not sure the visual aesthetic is quite conveying a unified tone across the board, and these icons could still use some work. But, clearly, Zoom is attempting to loosen the tie a bit.

SAFE SCREEN SHARING FOR EVERYONE

You’re not the only person who gets nervous sharing their screen on Zoom, and that insight informed one of the biggest updates to Zoom: a new screen that lets you set up your screen share before it goes to everyone, complete with the option to choose to share only certain apps or windows rather than your whole entire screen.

“It’s one of the things in our user research we hear over and over,” says Smith. “My desktop is my personal space . . . So that’s a core responsibility of Zoom as a platform to help people not make mistakes in sharing information they don’t intend to share.”

The new updates means you could selectively share PowerPoint slides and an Excel spreadsheet, but not your email sitting underneath it all.

Alongside this update, Zoom will also allow multiple attendees to screenshare at the same time, removing significant bottlenecks for people who want to share media in a dynamic meeting.

“One question I have in meetings once a day is, ‘Can you stop sharing so I can share?’” says Smith. “That’s going to be a thing of the past. Now it’s like, ‘everyone just put it up!’”

MINDLESS COLLABORATIVE APPS

Pushing a step past screen sharing, Zoom users will also be able to share files like Google or Office 365 docs inside meetings. These documents can be edited, collaboratively, in real time.

“In the past few years, we talked about ‘hybrid [work]’ or whatever, but the truth is we’re much more distributed than we used to be and we need to get our work done wherever people are sitting,” says Smith. “And that means we need to get our work done in a meeting when we’re talking to someone.”

These documents will float on top of the interface, just like web browser tabs. In fact, Zoom basically built a web browser into its meetings software, and it’s using web APIs offered by companies like Microsoft to allow you to load your files into the shared Zoom chat space for remote, collaborative work.

In this sense, Zoom is promising the anti-walled garden approach, offering a breadth and variety of file types from competitors inside their software. And that comes down to empowering the polyamorous way people actually work, versus the more brand loyal way companies wish we did.

“Even dedicated Microsoft users are going to have a Google Doc over here, and then meeting on Zoom,” says Smith. “Part of our design philosophy is choice, where the platform can enable customers with different configurations to all be successful.”

The above updates will roll out over the coming months.

“I think it’s going to be cool to see how people use them,” says Smith. “Any time you take steps in these directions you get both sides, people who love it and people who don’t like what you’re doing. The negative feedback will be just as instructive.”

FastCompany

03.25.24

Tik Tok ban may not work

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

American lawmakers took steps that indicated they are serious about banning TikTok if the Chinese parent company, ByteDance, does not sell to a US company. When the ban becomes a reality it will be a step back.

A ban is something that I associate with a terrible past. As news of the Tik Tok ban emerged I wondered about the possibility of banning an information platform in our modern era. Calls for a ban reminded me of what happened to publishers whose books were banned whenever they published something contrary to popular views.

It’s always troubling for society whenever an authoritative entity is advocating for banning anything. Today we have the privilege of reading some of the most important books which were banned at some point. One would have thought that by now everyone has learnt a lesson about the futility of banning anything. In my view, banning anything that disseminates information does not work. History tells us that banning anything that disseminates information does not work.Rulers of the world who tried to ban important books and information repositories failed dismally. All they did was to delay the distribution. Today, some of the best books ever written were once banned. The history of technology also tells us that banning information platforms often fail. They only manage to frustrate the short term success of those who are banned. In the long run information platforms that are banned often survive.

Think Wikileaks, a platform that was created by Julian Assange. Wikileaks was designed to reveal information you were not supposed to see. At some point the information platform shared information that revealed how privacy was violated. It seems some of these revelations triggered very powerful countries to prevent Wikileaks from publishing such information. We now know that it was almost impossible to closed down Wikileaks. The information platform was designed in such a way that its presence would not be disturbed.

Closure of the platform in one country triggered a resurrection of another version in a different location. Wikileaks used servers across countries. It had several domains (web addresses) that enabled it to be accessible even if one domain name was shut down.

The story of Wikileaks should serve as a reminder that modern means of communication aswell as information platforms cannot easily be banned.

Tik Tok parent company, Byte Dance, knows this very well. The company has already created another version of Tik Tok which is known as Lemon8. The app which caters to a Gen Z audience, features a mix of TikTok-like videos and Instagram-like photos. One online news platform had this headline which described the latest by the app “TikTok’s Sister App Lemon8 Grew 160%, Boosts Influencer Marketing”. Bear in mind that this is just one known replica of TikTok, it’s possible there’s more in different countries.

In my books, this is one indication that it would be impossible to effectively ban TikTok. I can also confirm, based on my study of Chinese tech companies, that one of their secret weapon is to build tech companies that are difficult to destroy. They are built to withstand bans and other forms of competition disguised as justifiable legislative actions.

The Tik Tok name may not always be with us. The technology behind TikTok will however re-emerge under a different brand name driven by the same business principles that brought us TikTok. Instead of banning TikTok, those who really care should address the real challenges presented by social media platforms across the globe. Targeting one social media platform will not work, instead another similar one will come from China or any other country. Will that one be banned aswell?

03.11.24

Fake food challenge,there’s tech for that

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

It has become very difficult to distinguish an authentic product from a fake product. Fake goods manufacturers have become so advanced that consumers are fooled into buying a product assuming they are buying an original version. In South Africa, this has resulted in people dying from eating expired goods sourced from traders that presented them to the market as authentic products. Authorities have attempted to curb this challenge however their efforts have failed. Now, there’s a tech solution to the fake goods challenge.

As the world is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the barcode, the organisation, GS1, that brought us the barcode was in South Africa to launch what it’s called – Verified by GS1. Essentially, GS1 (non profit entity) has brought the barcode and QR code together to assist consumers with getting more verified information about products. This is one of the most important interventions in the fight against fake goods. In the South African context, it has been launched with an app that will assist local consumers and traders to share verified product information.

Speaking about the technology, Zinhle Tyikwe, CEO GS1 South Africa, said Verified by GS1 registries functions as an “ID card” for products. She said it authenticates the identity of a packaged product using seven key attributes, with the product information securely stored in the Verified by GS1 Registry, which the brand owner maintains. “As we face challenges like counterfeiting and illicit goods, this App linked to Verified by GS1 gives consumers the power to authenticate goods that they buy and is our contribution to national and industry efforts to ensure that we deal with the scourge of counterfeiting and, importantly ensure consumers are buying trusted products,” she said

In simple terms, this new development means that consumers will now have the ability to check more information about a product using a mobile and scanning a QR code. By simply using a mobile consumers will be able to verify the authenticity of a product.

Eldrid Jordaan who leads Suppple, the company that developed the Verified by GS1 App in collaboration with GS1, had this to say about this development “at Suppple we take immense pride in our collaboration on the verified by GS1 SA app that connects citizens with 500 billion products globally. But it’s more than the scale, it’s also about playing a role in the fight against illicit trade and safeguarding citizens. Giving them the power”.

This is a step in the right direction towards safeguarding consumers against corrupt traders.

It is a welcomed move towards assisting consumers with food safety. The next big challenge that GS1 will have to tackle is the challenge of fake medicine. There’s a greater need for communities to be better informed about the medicine they consume. Already there’s a litany of medical products that are faked by traders who are just after profit. The solution presented by GS1 will just require people to have some digital literacy and perhaps a better mobile device to use their mobile phones to get product information. In the future, it will probably form part of eyewear that will enable consumers to read QR codes and get information on just about any product.

It is my hope that we will see more tech products such as these with the power to save lives. This is just one of the great examples of how data can be used for advancement. It is also a basis upon which AI can be used for advancement instead of just trivial things. If this product succeeds, its AI version will probably add another layer of protection.

03.04.24

The Elon Musk legal challenge is good for Tech

BY Wesley Diphoko 3 MINUTE READ

Elon Musk has been receiving serious backlash lately for all the right reasons. He has been off the mark a couple of times. He has been vocal about issues that should have been left to people with time to waste. Recently however he has raised something that should receive everyone’s attention. Last week he matched his criticism of Sam Altman (co-founder of OpenAI) with legal action. Why is one of the richest man in the world suing an innovator with a mission to advance technology? Few years ago before ChatGPT was a reality, Elon Musk, Sam Altman and others set out a vision to develop an AI machinery that would be free of commercial interests and everything that comes with it. It was supposed to be a holy AI that shows others how to do good. In a sense, it was going to set a standard for others to follow.

As most people who follow tech would know, Open AI was turned around by Sam and became a for profit entity that received funding from funders who were keen to see economic benefits from OpenAI.

The company moved away from its core to doing something contrary to its founding values.

As a result of this move by Sam Altman, there’s a serious gap of an AI organisation that can exist for the real benefit of all.

For this reason, Elon Musk has legally challenged Sam Altman and OpenAI. According to the New York Times, Mr. Musk sued OpenAI and its chief executive, Sam Altman, accusing them of breaching a contract by putting profits and commercial interests in developing artificial intelligence ahead of the public good. A multibillion-dollar partnership that OpenAI developed with Microsoft, Mr. Musk said, represented an abandonment of a founding pledge to carefully develop A.I. and make the technology publicly available.

The outcome of this legal challenge could shape the future of technology institutions that were designed to benefit all.

If the challenge by Elon Musk succeeds, it will ensure that institutions that were created to benefit all are not turned around to benefit just a few.

An entity such as OpenAI was created to ensure that mistakes of the past are not repeated.

In the era before AI, many have missed out on early benefits of tech. OpenAI was designed to avoid such an outcome. Of all the sins that Elon Musk has committed, this time around he’s on the right track. Some may say, as Vinod Khosla has said, it’s just sour grapes from Musk. The reality however is that someone had to raise this issue and perhaps shape the future of tech on such matters. In the future we are likely to see more technologies that will require neutrality. The future will require an OpenAI type entity that is designed to serve society at large. Tech needs an entity that is not just driven by profit. A great example in this regard is Wikipedia. As much as Wikipedia was criticised for inaccuracies it has become one of the most important websites of our times. One of the unique factors about the website is that it was built as a non-profit to benefit all. This is one of the reasons why it remained impactful and still served society. Imagine if Wikipedia had been turned into a for profit organisation.

While Elon Musk is making a point legally about the need for a non-profit organisation in AI, there’s a need for a group of tech leaders to set up such an AI institution for the benefit of all. It should be an AI non profit organisation that is built to watch the activity of other AIs and ensure that society is made aware of its harms and contribute towards a solution

02.26.24

SOVEREIGN AI: An opportunity for uniquely South African powered Artificial Intelligence

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

ChatGPT got most people excited about Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although AI has been with us for some time, recent developments have increased its adoption. Before then and through this era of AI euphoria, I’ve been concerned about what it means for countries with limited AI capabilities. The concern has been mainly around the extent to which countries could retain data sovereignty. In simple terms, how can countries use AI without the need to handover their data to countries that are leading in the AI race. Recently, it was encouraging to learn from the man of the moment, Nvidia CEO – Jensen Huang, that his company has built capabilities to enable Sovereign AI. It encompasses a nation’s approach to harnessing AI for its socio-economic, cultural, and geopolitical context. Essentially, it stands in contrast with corporate-controlled AI, which is developed and deployed less in any nation-state’s interest and more to generate profits and gain market share. Several countries, including Japan, Canada, and France, are already establishing their sovereign AI systems.

The push for sovereign AI implies a shift towards more localised and customised AI development, where AI systems are specifically designed to meet the cultural, linguistic, and regulatory requirements of individual countries. In the same way that we see smartphone companies locating AI within a device instead of a cloud option, according to Huang, we are beginning to see countries also taking the same approach in the form of Sovereign AI.

This capability which is enabled by Nvidia, presents an opportunity for African countries to build their own AI systems without handing over their data to more powerful countries. This is a positive development in the tech world. Most technological advancements often necessitate a reliance on countries that build the infrastructure which then compromises the position of developing countries. This move by Nvidia addresses a concern that has always been there about data sovereignty. Lack of data sovereignty up to now has weakened African countries and rendered them tech slaves to those that develop software and hardware. Sovereignty AI by Nvidia presents a major opportunity for African countries. Now countries within the continent can develop unique technology solutions.

The uniqueness of their technology solutions will be driven mainly by their unique data. Each country from a data perspective has something that another country does not have. This will allow country specific AI solutions and level the playing field. If embraced, this is a moment that could propel South Africa in the AI race. Challenges faced by South Africa as well as innovation projects could enable AI solutions that could be useful elsewhere. Think of the AIDS challenge in South Africa. It has enabled the country to embark on advanced AIDS research to address the challenge. The data that comes out of such work could enable the country to buld Health AI solutions that could assist others in dealing with the AIDS challenge. The crime challenge, although not unique to South Africa, its data could be used to build AI tools to assist other countries to prevent a similar challenges. The more unique the countries circumstances the more it will be able to use sovereign AI to its advantage. Each country now can develop an AI roadmap into the future and ensure that it has a sit at the AI table.The time is now for countries to also be excited about AI.

02.23.24

Nvidia Stock Effect: The CEO (Jensen Huang) could join the World’s Richest People

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

In 1978, Jensen Huang was a dishwasher and busboy at a Denny’s restaurant in Portland, Oregon, hustling for tips and a minimal salary. When he goes to sleep Thursday night, he will do so as one of the richest people in the world.

Nvidia shares skyrocketed following the company’s breakaway earnings report Wednesday evening. Shares were 15% higher in mid-afternoon trading Thursday, climbing roughly $104 per share since yesterday afternoon, to around $778. And, as of last September, Huang owned 86.7 million shares of the company, making him the largest shareholder.

At close of business Wednesday, Huang was worth $59.6 billion. Today’s spike should put him in the range of $68–$68.5 billion.

As of 2:30 p.m. ET, that increase in Huang’s net worth has rocketed him to the No. 21 position on Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index, a leap of two places, putting him ahead of Charles Koch (No. 23) and Zhong Shanshan (No. 22), a Chinese entrepreneur who made his fortune in bottled water.

In the coming days, he’s likely to overtake Julia Flesher Koch (No. 20, with $69.1 billion, as of Wednesday evening). And if Nvidia’s stock continues to surge, in the near future, he could top Walmart heirs Jim Walton (No. 17, with $78.3 billion), Rob Walton (No. 18, with $76.9 billion), and Alice Walton (No. 19, with $75.9 billion). He still has a long way to go before he gets in the top five, though. (Bill Gates currently occupies that No. 5 spot, with a net worth of $146 billion—and Elon Musk tops the list with $210 billion.)

Huang’s climb is an impressive escalation of wealth no matter how you look at it, but it’s even more stunning when you consider that a year ago, his personal worth was $13.5 billion, which put him at No. 128 on the list.

Nvidia posted record Q4 revenue of $22 billion, boasting a 265% increase from the same quarter the prior year and earnings that far exceeded analyst expectations. Goldman Sachs has called Nvidia the “most important stock on planet Earth.” And Huang’s words move markets.

Now the third-largest company in the U.S., Nvidia has been responsible for one-third of the Nasdaq 100’s gains this year. And it’s showing no sign of slowing. CFO Colette Kress, on Wednesday, said that although the company had improved supply of its AI GPUs, it was still well short of overall demand.

It’s a position that Huang and his cofounders, Chris Malachowsky and Curtis Priem, couldn’t have imagined in 1993 when they met (ironically) at a different Denny’s than the one Huang had worked at—this one in San Jose—to map out what their new company would be. (The restaurant was convenient, as Malachowsky and Priem worked at Sun Microsystems nearby, and Huang was at LSA Logic at the time. They would later use Priem’s non-air-conditioned townhouse to lock down their business plan.)

The early days were rough. Between 1999 and mid-2015, Nvidia’s stock didn’t top $6.25 per share. Last year, Huang told the Wall Street Journal that when he told his mother the trio was starting a company to make graphics chips for video games, she replied, “Why don’t you go get a job?”

Thankfully for him, he didn’t listen.

FastCompany

02.20.24

The meaning of “Please Call Me” victory by Makate

BY Wesley Diphoko 3 MINUTE READ

The story of the “Please Call Me” inventor, Nkosana Makate, is not about one man. It’s a story of South African young people who are ignored within corporate SA. When Nkosana Makate came up with the “Please Call Me” idea no one expected it to come from a township young man. The Vodacom leadership at the time just expected him to focus on his internship and earn a stipend at the end of the month. Makate was however pregnant with township experience that informed and inspired the “Please Call Me” idea.

We find a similar attitude in corporate SA today. Ideas of young people from townships are suppressed, they are not expected to come up with technological solutions yet they have an experience of some of the toughest challenges in our society. In case this is difficult to understand, just look at the number of young people who are funded to make their business ideas a reality. The lack of funding or support has nothing to do with the validity and feasibility of their ideas but more to do with the view that someone from a township cannot think.

This is clear when one looks at the Makate case. Here is a young man who experiences a difficulty of communicating with his partner and thereafter designs a solution based on his lived experience. In articulating the solution he does not only outlines the challenge, which was also experienced by many South Africans at the time, but also identifies a technology – USSD (Unstructured Supplementary Service Data) which is a Global System for Mobile Communications (GSM) protocol.

At this point in time it’s important to note that the use case for USSD was completely different, at least in the South African context. What Makate did is what most technologists do when they come up with solutions for our society. They identify a major challenge and at the same time they pick an ideal technology to address the challenge. When they don’t have all the expertise to develop a solution, they partner with those with tools and skills. This is exactly what Makate did and there was consensus that he was the creator. What happened thereafter is what happens to most young people from townships. Their ideas are hijacked by people with access to funders and networks and they present their ideas as if they have conceived them.

There are many Makates in our society.

As this matter is now approaching its conclusion, some have come up with strange theories. Some have started to argue that if Makate were granted what is due to him he would be richer than some of the richest South Africans. Some have also come up with weird theories such as that paying Makate will lead to retrenchments at Vodacom. There’s a need to be less confused when it comes to dealing with the Makate matter. Here we are dealing with a technology Intellectual property (IP) matter. In this country in terms of the law, IP matters. People are expected to be paid for their IP. If their IP has contributed towards wealth creation then they are entitled to the piece of the pie. The “Please Call Me” matter with Makate offers South Africa an opportunity to do what is right. It’s a wake up call to start acknowledging young people from townships. They have the capability to think beyond imagination. They need the support to make their dreams a reality.

They experience the challenges and they are the best to come up with solutions. When they come up with solutions there’s a need to credit them and not to suppress them. This is what could lead to more relevant and impactful innovations in the country.

When Nkosana Makate came up with the idea he understood very well what he was doing. He still understands the value of that idea today. His experience has opened his eyes about the challenges facing township young people within corporates. When he is paid what is due to him I believe he will do something to acknowledge innovations by township based young innovators.

02.12.24

Tech Giants are getting serious about Fake Content generated by AI

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

Recently, disturbing and sexually explicit fake pictures of Taylor Swift appeared online and were circulated swiftly. According to the New York Times, one image shared by a user on X was viewed 47 million times before the account was suspended. Social media platform,X had to suspend several accounts that posted the faked images of Ms. Swift, but the images were shared on other social media platforms and continued to spread despite those companies’ efforts to remove them. What happened to Taylor Swift can happen to anyone online. It has now become very difficult to distinguish between authentic and fake content online. Online users have to contend with fake videos, calls and photos.

This has prompted leading technology giants to come up with solutions.

Google announced that they will collaborate with companies like Adobe, the BBC, Microsoft and Sony to fine-tune technical standards to address the fake content challenge. Meta (Facebook parent) also announced a similar commitment.

The social network company wants to promote standardized labels to help detect artificially created photo, video and audio material across its platforms.

If such efforts become a reality in the near future we will have clearly marked content. An image or video will an indicated that shows that it’s AI generated. It will probably look like what Samsung has done with their new device, the Samsung S24. Images are that AI generated are marked with tiny starts to indicate that they were touched by AI. These efforts will go a long way in protecting people from negative AI content.

This may however create A challenge for positive AI content. Not all AI generated content is fake. Some content creators use AI to assist them in the process of creating content. Such content may be authentic in nature but now may need to reflect the AI label.

As much as labelling of content will positive for readers and online content consumers it will not serve the interests of well meaning creators. At the same time efforts to label AI content will elevate the status of original content creators.

The so called AI threat to writers will be minimised by the process of labelling content. In future, original content will be highly valued compared to AI generated content. Unique original voices and creative works will occupy a unique position. As societies battle with the deluge of fake content, there’s an opportunity for original content publishers. At some level those who will rely on original methods will gain the trust of readers and content consumers.

Major publishers will be able to cut costs by relying on AI but at the same time they run a risk of losing trust of readers. On the other hand Independent publishers can grab this opportunity and dedicate themselves to authenticity and quality. This approach may yield positive dividends in future. At the end of the day content consumers will benefit from such developments. The process of labelling fake content will create better awareness about AI generated content. It will also save people from falling for deceitful content. Content consumers will be able to choose between artificial content and authentic content. Software companies have started to fights fake content, now there’s a need hardware companies such as Apple to also join efforts to reduce fake content online.

02.05.24

Tech on Human beings needs Authentic Intelligentia

BY Wesley Diphoko 2 MINUTE READ

In between the noise, Elon Musk has been leading a team that has managed to plant wires on a human brain. The wireless brain-computer interface (BCI) developed by one of Elon Musk companies, Neuralink, seeks to evaluate the safety of their implant and surgical robot and also assess the initial functionality of the BCI for enabling people with quadriplegia and difficulty of movement to control external devices with their thoughts. If they succeed, in the near future human beings will have the ability to issue commands to computers via thoughts.

In simple terms, this means one day our brains will carry out functions that were executed by keyboards and computer mouses. Our thoughts will enable us to make phone calls and we could even open doors by just thinking. Although this may occur in the distant future we need to reflect on these developments now. It raises a number of questions that ought to be answered before we discover negative consequences that often come with innovation. At the same time, the research at Neuralink offers us an opportunity to allow innovation to transform lives.

When Elon Musk was presenting the first Telepathy (as it’s known by Neuralink team) he also mentioned that it could also cure blindness at some point. Some are concerned about such technological advancements and there’s already an interest to throw a rule book. Should we therefore allow regulators to stand in the way of health innovations due to fear of unintended consequences? How should we handle innovations that have a direct impact on human lives? There are no easy answers to these questions. Our experience with innovation tells us that we need to strike a balance that can allow progress while enabling necessary guardrails. Are we not at a point where there’s a need for us to create innovation zones or safety spaces to carry our research that could have an impact on human lives? There’s a difference between deploying an Uber solution which challenges traffic and transport regulations and deploying a technology solution that is embedded on a human body. Consequences of implementing solutions on nonhuman physical infrastructure and humans may require a different approach to implement technology solutions. We know it’s possible for innovations to yield negative outcomes and the interruptions on human lives have been minimal. We are now getting to a point where such human interruptions may be greater. As a society there’s a need to be ready for the Neuralink type innovations. There’s a need for new interventions that will enable progress while safeguarding lives. We don’t have such interventions yet. Failure to create them may lead to disastrous consequences. Future innovations will require new rules of engagement. We need them before we are surprised by an unstoppable tsunami of human beings embedded with wires. To solve this one we will need Authentic Intelligence instead of Artificial Intelligence. Human beings with brains will need to sit down and think deeply about how human beings could be impacted by technological advancements in their bodies. At the same they will have to consider the benefits for those whose lives is limited by lack of solutions to their challenges. Such a group of human beings will need more than just health professionals, but ethicists, technologists, and socioligists to map out a charter that will guide as we move innovation beyond just physical objects to human beings. The sooner we act on this one the better our better and safer our lives will be in the age of tech is beginning to merge with human beings.

Wesley Diphoko is technology analyst