Weekly Cognitive Update: The Ethics Behind AI

This week I found myself immersed in cognitive and AI startups at the Launch Scale festival in San Francisco.

Over lunch, I ended up talking to the young founders from Aipoly: a couple of grads from Singularity University who have developed an excellent visual recognition app to help blind people make sense of the world around them.

Beyond the fact that they forgo the cloud and do all the image processing on the phone, we also got on to a discussion around alternate use cases for their technology. I couldn’t help but ask them if they would consider their technology for a particularly lucrative area like the defense industry, for instance in the use of self-aware drones.

I was struck by their answer.

Co-founder Alberto Rizzoli states that their motivation is to use this technology for good, rather than spurious reasons. If someone else wanted to go develop in that space, then that’s fine, but they felt their purpose was to transform lives for the better.

Reading this may sound a little trite and I know many would make a similar decision. Still, this gave me a moment to reflect: all too often I think we can get wrapped up in the inert scientific aspects of the technology and be less concerned with its application.

Here are the latest stories we’ve covered around cognitive business this week:


Would you know if one of your Teaching Assistants was a bot?

Ashok Goel at Georgia Tech experiments with an online student forum


Music Predictor hits the IBM Watson Developer Conference

Perspective from an MBA student startup pitchfest winner


The world’s first bot lawyer: Joshua Browder

How Joshua Browder employs AI to fight civic cases


Meet IBM Watson Business Coach

Interactive tool helps you plot your cognitive journey


“Hello, Watson here, can I help with this diabetes situation?”

A focus on technology in healthcare during US National Diabetes Month