No One Wants To Take Responsibility For Deadliest Mistakes In ‘Rust’ Shooting

Police evidence and a pile of lawsuits show repeated firearm mishandling. No one wants to admit it.

What is (or Was) Your Favorite CW Show?

For those who watch network TV, the month of May is typically when we learn what new shows are arriving in the fall, what shows are coming back for a future season, and what gets cancelled. If you watch anything on The CW, this May has been a particular rough one, as the network behind the Arrowverse, Vampire Diaries

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Actor Fred Ward, Of ‘Tremors,’ ‘The Right Stuff’ Fame, Dies

Fred Ward, a veteran actor who brought a gruff tenderness to tough-guy roles in such films as “The Right Stuff,” “The Player” and “Tremors,” has died.

Dogs vs. Cats Chess Set: The Battle for Pet Supremacy

Dogs or cats – which makes the best pet? Depends on who and when you ask, but if you ask me on a day my dog pooped on the living room carpet, I’d probably say cats. Ask me on a day that my cat knocked a picture of my wife and me on our wedding day off a shelf and shattered the glass, I’d probably say dogs. But here to settle the debate once and for all comes this Dogs Vs Cats Chess Set available from Uncommon Goods.

The $179 set includes a folding wooden game board that doubles as a storage case for the pieces, and two sets of resin figures: one of dogs, the other of cats. Which would you choose to play as? I always choose the top hat, but that’s just me and chess makes my brain hurt; I’m more of a Monopoly kind of guy. Especially if I can be banker and steal money without getting caught.

I set up a chess board and tried to get my dog and cat to play a game to decide who was the better pet but my cat just swatted the pieces off the board, and my dog started chewing on them once they hit the floor. So who won? Definitely not me, that’s for sure. Maybe my fish will actually take the game seriously…

[via DudeIWantThat]

Hitting the Books: Why we need to treat the robots of tomorrow like tools

Do not be swayed by the dulcet dial-tones of tomorrow’s AIs and their siren songs of the singularity. No matter how closely artificial intelligences and androids may come to look and act like humans, they’ll never actually be humans, argue Paul Leonardi, Duca Family Professor of Technology Management at University of California Santa Barbara, and Tsedal Neeley, Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, in their new book The Digital Mindset: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI — and therefore should not be treated like humans. The pair contends in the excerpt below that in doing so, such hinders interaction with advanced technology and hampers its further development.

Digital Mindset cover
Harvard Business Review Press

Reprinted by permission of Harvard Business Review Press. Excerpted from THE DIGITAL MINDSET: What It Really Takes to Thrive in the Age of Data, Algorithms, and AI by Paul Leonardi and Tsedal Neeley. Copyright 2022 Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.


Treat AI Like a Machine, Even If It Seems to Act Like a Human

We are accustomed to interacting with a computer in a visual way: buttons, dropdown lists, sliders, and other features allow us to give the computer commands. However, advances in AI are moving our interaction with digital tools to more natural-feeling and human-like interactions. What’s called a conversational user interface (UI) gives people the ability to act with digital tools through writing or talking that’s much more the way we interact with other people, like Burt Swanson’s “conversation” with Amy the assistant. When you say, “Hey Siri,” “Hello Alexa,” and “OK Google,” that’s a conversational UI. The growth of tools controlled by conversational UIs is staggering. Every time you call an 800 number and are asked to spell your name, answer “Yes,” or say the last four numbers of your social security number you are interacting with an AI that uses conversational UI. Conversational bots have become ubiquitous in part because they make good business sense, and in part because they allow us to access services more efficiently and more conveniently.

For example, if you’ve booked a train trip through Amtrak, you’ve probably interacted with an AI chatbot. Its name is Julie, and it answers more than 5 million questions annually from more than 30 million passengers. You can book rail travel with Julie just by saying where you’re going and when. Julie can pre-fill forms on Amtrak’s scheduling tool and provide guidance through the rest of the booking process. Amtrak has seen an 800 percent return on their investment in Julie. Amtrak saves more than $1 million in customer service expenses each year by using Julie to field low-level, predictable questions. Bookings have increased by 25 percent, and bookings done through Julie generate 30 percent more revenue than bookings made through the website, because Julie is good at upselling customers!

One reason for Julie’s success is that Amtrak makes it clear to users that Julie is an AI agent, and they tell you why they’ve decided to use AI rather than connect you directly with a human. That means that people orient to it as a machine, not mistakenly as a human. They don’t expect too much from it, and they tend to ask questions in ways that elicit helpful answers. Amtrak’s decision may sound counterintuitive, since many companies try to pass off their chatbots as real people and it would seem that interacting with a machine as though it were a human should be precisely how to get the best results. A digital mindset requires a shift in how we think about our relationship to machines. Even as they become more humanish, we need to think about them as machines— requiring explicit instructions and focused on narrow tasks.

x.ai, the company that made meeting scheduler Amy, enables you to schedule a meeting at work, or invite a friend to your kids’ basketball game by simply emailing Amy (or her counterpart, Andrew) with your request as though they were a live personal assistant. Yet Dennis Mortensen, the company’s CEO, observes that more than 90 percent of the inquiries that the company’s help desk receives are related to the fact that people are trying to use natural language with the bots and struggling to get good results.

Perhaps that was why scheduling a simple meeting with a new acquaintance became so annoying to Professor Swanson, who kept trying to use colloquialisms and conventions from informal conversation. In addition to the way he talked, he made many perfectly valid assumptions about his interaction with Amy. He assumed Amy could understand his scheduling constraints and that “she” would be able to discern what his preferences were from the context of the conversation. Swanson was informal and casual—the bot doesn’t get that. It doesn’t understand that when asking for another person’s time, especially if they are doing you a favor, it’s not effective to frequently or suddenly change the meeting logistics. It turns out it’s harder than we think to interact casually with an intelligent robot.

Researchers have validated the idea that treating machines like machines works better than trying to be human with them. Stanford professor Clifford Nass and Harvard Business School professor Youngme Moon conducted a series of studies in which people interacted with anthropomorphic computer interfaces. (Anthropomorphism, or assigning human attributes to inanimate objects, is a major issue in AI research.) They found that individuals tend to overuse human social categories, applying gender stereotypes to computers and ethnically identifying with computer agents. Their findings also showed that people exhibit over-learned social behaviors such as politeness and reciprocity toward computers. Importantly, people tend to engage in these behaviors — treating robots and other intelligent agents as though they were people — even when they know they are interacting with computers, rather than humans. It seems that our collective impulse to relate with people often creeps into our interaction with machines.

This problem of mistaking computers for humans is compounded when interacting with artificial agents via conversational UIs. Take for example a study we conducted with two companies who used AI assistants that provided answers to routine business queries. One used an anthropomorphized AI that was human-like. The other wasn’t.

Workers at the company who used the anthropomorphic agent routinely got mad at the agent when the agent did not return useful answers. They routinely said things like, “He sucks!” or “I would expect him to do better” when referring to the results given by the machine. Most importantly, their strategies to improve relations with the machine mirrored strategies they would use with other people in the office. They would ask their question more politely, they would rephrase into different words, or they would try to strategically time their questions for when they thought the agent would be, in one person’s terms, “not so busy.” None of these strategies was particularly successful.

In contrast, workers at the other company reported much greater satisfaction with their experience. They typed in search terms as though it were a computer and spelled things out in great detail to make sure that an AI, who could not “read between the lines” and pick up on nuance, would heed their preferences. The second group routinely remarked at how surprised they were when their queries were returned with useful or even surprising information and they chalked up any problems that arose to typical bugs with a computer.

For the foreseeable future, the data are clear: treating technologies — no matter how human-like or intelligent they appear — like technologies is key to success when interacting with machines. A big part of the problem is they set the expectations for users that they will respond in human-like ways, and they make us assume that they can infer our intentions, when they can do neither. Interacting successfully with a conversational UI requires a digital mindset that understands we are still some ways away from effective human-like interaction with the technology. Recognizing that an AI agent cannot accurately infer your intentions means that it’s important to spell out each step of the process and be clear about what you want to accomplish.

Buffalo Suspect Embraced Racist ‘Replacement’ Conspiracy Pushed By Tucker Carlson

The suspected shooter expressed repeated fears online that whites are being replaced by people of color, The New York Times reported.

How A Major Tar Sands Pipeline Project Threatens Indigenous Land Rights

Much of the Trans Mountain pipeline’s route lies within the territory of the Secwepemc Nation.

9 Times Pranksters, Vigilantes, and Weirdos Hijacked TV Broadcasts

Picture this: you’re sitting at home, exhausted after a long day at work. You turn on your favorite show—a mid-tier 90’s sitcom—hoping that the din of laugh tracks and witty banter helps lull you into some kind of relaxation, and it does! At least at first, before it gets suddenly interrupted by an X-rated film. Or…

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‘Looking For Love’ Host Selena Gomez Shuts Down ‘SNL’ Suitors

“Let’s see how the afterparty goes,” she tells Punkie Johnson.

Ted Cruz Mocked Republicans Who Suck Up To Trump And You Know What Happened Next

The Texas Republican talked about GOP candidates having Trump tattooed on their rear ends and received some blunt reminders in response.