Software

The re-rise of the question

And so another year ends. Another decade starts, and an accident of history and human nature – name one religion that doesn’t have some form of midwinter feast – has given us all some time to stop and reflect. Except the people working the busiest time of year in the shops and hospitals, or doing shifts keeping everything running. But for all those people in the offices and factories, there’s a break in the normal routine, and a time to catch our breath a little, even if it is between another round of games or drinks, or another run down the piste. So since we’re all in end-noughties reflective mood, I thought I’d join in. The did-I-meet-my-new-years-resolutions-post is later. I’ve been thinking about what marked the end of this decade for me, and me it’s that people are starting to question again. Not “how do I find Waitrose”, but the…

Augmented Intelligence

Autonomy

I live in two worlds – the real and the virtual. To some extent we all do now – moving our personae from physical to virtual connections with barely a thought about what this means. But thinking a little more, it struck me that this might just be a good example of autonomy in action. Autonomy also lives in two worlds. For many people, it means the ability to act independently of controls, to think and act for oneself – for others, especially those used to autonomous systems, it means robots and the subtle grades of control, responsibility and trust that their human operators (or, increasingly, team-mates) share with them. I could get boring about PACT (Pilot Authorisation and Control of Tasks) levels and other grading scales that range from the human having full control of a system’s actions to the system having full control. I could talk about Asimov’s…