Artificial Intelligence: Usurped and Trapped, But Not For Much Longer

  • Darryn Pollock

    Artificial Intelligence has so much range and scope, and although it has primarily been aimed at making advertising revenue, it could be different in the East

Artificial Intelligence: Usurped and Trapped, But Not For Much Longer
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Why AI’s true potential can be fully explored in the East, not in the West

The Internet was born out of the idea of sharing information across the planet with no constraints or controls. Yet the manner in which it has manifested itself today is no longer true to those original ideas.

In the age of social media, we have come to a point where information and data have been usurped by a few companies that allow people to use their services with an underlying, hidden cost of that data.

Facebook and Google have taken full control of data, using it for their own needs. This is starting to expand into not only people’s data but also new and emerging technologies, such as AI.

Much like how other companies in Silicon Valley began their lives with this brazen entrepreneurial spirit and slowly evolved into ones that could not survive on innovation alone, this has led them down the road of chasing ad revenue, creating new and deceivious ways in which to reach it.

The same applies to AI; such a new and potentially revolutionary technology is being sprouted by small innovative companies, only to be bought out and taken over by the Internet giants of Google and Facebook to be used as a new avenue for ad dollars.

These days, the direction of AI companies is overwhelmingly being used to target user behavior in order to extract more ad dollars, rather than advancing the technology for its much more powerful and useful needs.

It has left AI languishing in one direction when enough resources are thrown at it, and thus pigeonholed its potential — but that is only real for the West. There is a big drive coming from China, which has not taken long to catch up in terms of research to expand AI.

However, their mandate is very different to the West’s, and ad dollars are not part of the process for AI. This means its true potential can be exponentially explored in the East, and, in time, probably overtake the stymied position of western AI.

Of course, China may forge ahead, but with its governmental control and socialistic nature, it still brings its own problems when it comes to advancing a new and only possible technology like AI. For this reason, it is also worth delving into the potential of CI (Community Intelligence)

The embodiment of evil

It would be a bit harsh and dramatic to call the likes of Facebook and Google ‘evil’; however, Jaron Lanier, who is widely credited as a founder of virtual reality, has recently delivered a sobering prognosis on the spiraling corruption of these types of social networks.

“I can’t call them social networks anymore. I call them behavior modification empires,” said Lanier in Vancouver for the TED conference, adding:

“I don’t think it’s a matter of bad people who’ve done a bad thing. It’s a globally tragic, astounding ridiculous system rather than a wave of evil.”

Lanier’s point is that the Internet was built on a socialist model that everything should be free and accessible to all. But it also celebrated visionary tech entrepreneurs who made it big with their world-changing ideas: “How do you celebrate entrepreneurship when everything is free?” he mused.

This is where the crossover between these two juxtapositioned ideas was reached in the form of advertising funding. Advertising allows companies to use their innovative ideas to attract people and make money off them, and that model has been growing exponentially with a few major companies usurping all the power.

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Now, the close working relationship of these major companies and the wants and needs of advertisers see them using their innovation to maximize advertising revenue. Thus, the tech entrepreneurs and visionaries who are pushing the boundaries are often bought out and taken over by the companies which have already made their fortune.

This then leads to these ideas taking a road which is far more applicable to achieving ad revenue than expanding the boundaries of tech innovation.

AI’s dalliance with advertising

AI is one such revolutionary tech advancement which has become trapped and usurped by the likes of Google, Facebook, and other tech giants who are trying to utilize this new technology as another way to create ad revenue.

It has become so that these large tech companies are picking up AI thought leaders and developers, either out of university or worse, by buying out their small startups and steering them in the direction they need.

“In effect, tech startups are serving as stealth recruiting tools for big companies, used to gobble up young developers and researchers who don’t particularly feel like big-company careers. These young nerds sign up to work for some exciting startup, but then the startup inevitably gets sold to a big company, and they wind up cashing out to a small degree,” explains Ben Goertzel, founder and CEO of Singularity NET, a Blockchain-based AI marketplace.

“The channeling of AI expertise into big corporations has a significant impact regarding what kinds of problems AI gets primarily applied to. Advertising, for example, gets an awful lot of attention. Cambridge Analytica’s relatively crude methods of social media engineering, applied to political campaigning, got a lot of press in the last US presidential election cycle. But Google, Facebook and Baidu (among others) have vastly more sophisticated manipulation machinery, which is used not to elect candidates but rather to direct people to buy products and services,” he adds.

A new dawn rises in the East

The way things work in the West, or in the US in particular, has made it standard practice for new technology to be primarily advertising-focused. This has also only come about because of the general monopoly and power that Western companies have over the vast majority of the Internet.

No longer is the Internet totally free and socialist. Even in countries where there is socialism, that notion is an incorrect one. The Socialist Republic of China has cut itself off from the rest of the Internet with its Great Firewall, but behind that wall, it is also devoid of reliance on advertising dollars.

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Because of this, China is building up its AI development at a rapid rate, but it is also not redirecting it to be used solely as a tool for advertising revenue. China’s growth of AI has larger and far-reaching potential as they are looking to expand the technology to its full potential.

So, while there may be a division in the advancement of Westernised AI and that of the East, there is at least a base of development which is looking to drive AI forward to its full potential, offering a level of equilibrium.

Issues with China and AI alternative in CI

Although China does not have the same reliance on advertising dollars to drive its AI advancement, the strictly-controlled country is not free to explore and expand AI as it pleases. Government intervention and direction is clear and evident in advancing technologies. Thus, AI will still have some sort of agenda dictated to it by the state.

It is for this reason that Community Intelligence is a viable alternative to AI and its stymied growth.

The world is heading towards an era of true community involvement and strength. No longer is there a one-way interaction of information that was originally seen at the birth of the Internet. Furthermore, as discussed with the dangers of social media, there is now this third wave of community-powered engagement.

Thus, to have CI as an alternative is to have a group collective answer questions and process problems in order to determine the path of common acceptance.

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Dealing With Intangible Assets

  • Darryn Pollock
    ⭐ Features

    When it comes to company assets, intangible ones are dynamic and fluid, and are becoming vitally important when considering blockchain tokens

Dealing With Intangible Assets
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Assets, commodities, and possessions in a business and financial setting have come a long way. From bartering crops and selling goods to stocks, bonds, and equities, the digitalizing of the globe has led to assets changing their face, and even their tangibility.

Now, companies and corporations are being valued on abstract concepts that fall under their intangible assets, and even determining that value through these intangible assets is starting to change. Company evaluations are shifting — they are no longer based just on pure equity but rather much more on their IPOs and publicly traded stock. This gives insight into a company that has a rich bank of intangible assets.

To this end, it is unsurprising that Blockchain assets for companies operating in this new space are starting to be viewed as a truer evaluation of the company. Cryptocurrencies can be viewed as an intangible asset, and as a new way of representing the value of a company. As these digital tokens grow in value and worth, they lend that growth and value to the overall stance of the business.

The way these intangible assets are shaping up and moving with the help of a new technological wave like Blockchain, it will eventually lead to a more distributed, transparent and thus truer and fairer reflection of a company's worth through these inclusive and attainable assets.

New intangible assets emerging

As a pure definition, an intangible asset is simply an asset which has no physical qualities to it. To be intangible means that one cannot touch, see, smell it, etc. But looking deeper into it, anything from goodwill, brand recognition and intellectual property — such as patents, trademarks, and copyrights — are all intangible assets.

However, even these assets are starting to be overtaken by another intangible asset that is emerging alongside a new technology. Blockchain companies are springing up, much like tech companies, with a solution to new problems, but these Blockchain companies come with their own assets.

Cryptocurrencies are the new intangible asset that is not only clearer and more transparent in terms of valuing their worth, but also generally better for the entire marketplace. The cryptocurrency worth of a Blockchain company can represent a much truer valuation than another company with traditional intangible assets.

In fact, the model of capitalism itself is in a state of flux. Tech companies have already tested its bounds in terms of equity and valuation, but as things move forward and more Blockchain companies spring up, the general idea of capital in a capital-free system will make valuations incredibly difficult and inaccurate. However, a cryptocurrency allows for market value to be attributed as a new form of intangible equity of a said company.

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A change in valuation

Companies are starting to be valued on much more than simple Assets - Liabilities basis. With this change comes the difficulty in valuing intangible assets. Putting a figure against brand identity is really an estimation and prone to purposeful inflation or deflation.

Tangible assets are easy to value, and thus easy to use to determine the equity of a company, but then there are some companies like Microsoft and other Tech giants that really own very little in the way of tangible assets. Their wealth is in intangible assets.

As Microsoft's founder Bill Gates puts it: “Products you can’t touch have a very different set of dynamics in terms of competition and risk and how you value the companies that make them.”

A lot of intangible assets are valued on the basis of public sentiment, and the metric for this is derived from things like IPOs and publicly traded stock. But the difficulties in determining the public sentiment from the excitement around stocks is equally difficult and often purposefully inaccurate.

Issues with the new standard in valuation

With IPOs and the resulting publicly traded stocks, the level of distribution and sentiment is often not a fair reflection. The system leaves the door open to big company investors like VCs and fund companies as well as big and wealthy individual investors that can use their money to move the markets.

These types of players always influence how the publicly traded companies work and how much their intangible assets are worth. Investment groups and companies can help prop up and lift companies, thereby influencing their true worth through their intangible assets in a way which can bring a swell of false public hype and frenzy.

In many ways, this is a form of market manipulation, as big money has all the power to pick and choose its own desirable companies to inflate. But, if stocks are being cherry-picked to inflate in order to grow the intangible assets of a company and thus give it a higher evaluation, the same cannot be said for cryptocurrencies.

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A Blockchain company’s desire is to distribute and include a vast and different arrangement for people to buy and invest in its cryptocurrency. Thus, if we take the same metric of a stock and use it against a cryptocurrency, the public sentiment is a far truer reflection because it is also on a market, but its price is heavily influenced by public sentiment.

And again, that public sentiment moves on an almost daily basis as this distributed group of ‘investors’ can easily buy and sell and trade their cryptocurrencies dependant on positive or negative news surrounding the blockchain company.

Inclusive, achievable intangible assets

Publicly traded stocks for traditional companies are technically open to all, but they are a lot harder to get one’s hands on as there is a level of exclusivity and exclusion that surrounds stock trading. Additionally, the model is not community oriented or decentralized, nor well distributed.

The more one looks at it, Blockchain assets are a much stronger and truer metric of company value. They are an intangible asset which is firstly easier to value as they operate on an open and transparent market, and secondly, they are a way to measure sentiment and growth in a company as they are far more distributed and liquid.

It allows these buyers of the token to be vested in the potential and possibility of the company; cryptocurrency assets often correlate strongly to the success of a company.

If a company is moving forward and hitting its targets on the way to its final goal, this is often predicated on the growing value of their token. It is also linked to an increase in interest and hype as more individuals buy the open and freely available token, which is then also well distributed.

So, if we consider these coins as intangible assets because they are not part of an asset which would determine equity, but they are a marker of success and sentiment in a company like a publicly traded stock, we can start to understand them a little more.

They do not have the difficulty of exclusivity, and thus are much more communal and therefore much truer as a metric by which to value a Blockchain company.

A decentralized community evaluation

People often call the cryptocurrency space a bubble since so many people are drawn to it and have bought into it, especially when it comes to ICOs and Blockchain companies. However, this is probably an unfair assessment of the space.

There is a creation of decentralized communities which are learning to accurately assess the intangible assets of companies. The shrewdness of a true distributed and decentralized collective is a determining metric that many mainstream tech companies cannot say they have as their basis for value.

Many tech companies may have had their value propped up by VCs and investment firms that helped kickstart them to success, but those in the Blockchain space have nowhere to hide. Their every move can be tracked and traced by the value of their tokens, which plays a part in their intangible asset worth and thus really in their total actual value as a business.

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