Robert Downey Jr Presents AI On YouTube
Written by Mike James   
Saturday, 21 December 2019

A more sensational headline would have been Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man reveals all about AI in new lavish YouTube series - but it really is only Robert Downey Jr...

This really is an impressive presentation, a YouTube Original, and it will be a series of eight half-hour episodes. At the moment only the first two are available without subscribing to Premium. Of course, if you don't subscribe to YouTube Premium you will have to watch a few adverts for the two you can watch, but it's not so bad.


Google is very comitted to AI and it really needs the general public to have a good opinion of the technology to make sure that there are few objections to it being used, for profit of course. So you have to keep in mind that this is propaganda as well as documentary.

The first episode is called How Far is Too Far? The immediate answer is that this video goes far too far in many places. The AI baby for example is a bit of a con. You can't train a neural network with just a few examples and it's is mostly just a party trick. That's a shame because there are important things going on in real AI that will have an impact. To make it clear, we are nowhere near what the AI baby seems to imply we can do. General AI is still well beyond our reach and the avatars and bots that you may interact with are not intelligent - they just have a thin layer of clever programming and the cracks soon become apparent when you probe even slightly.


Put simply, this is an over claiming presentation of what AI is. There are some truths, but very thinly spread. It is still worth watching, however, but don't let the AI baby creep you out - it's just a program designed to creep you out.

The second episode, Healed through AI, is about AI and health care. This is an area where real AI has the possibility of huge benefits. The problem is that its all mixed up with privacy. Would you give your health data to Google? I would - if it provided me with heath benefits. If this video has a fault I'd say its too people- and story-centric and doesn't tell you enough about the technology and it's more about "feel good" than understanding. But at least it doesn't overstate the case.

Episode 3 is called Using AI to build a Better Human - and yes this is potentially controversial topic. It covers the basics of cyborg enhancement including exoskeletons etc.  Episode 4 has the title Love, Art and Stories Decoded and it returns to the over-presented, over-claiming sham AI that blighted Episode 1. This is a shame. Google seems to be giving snake oil AI a platform and it is presenting it as not snake oil.

Should you subscribe to Premum because of this series. Almost certainly not. I'm not even convinced that the series will make it to the full eight parts. This is mostly slick, misleading propaganda.


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Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 December 2019 )