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Sunday, September 24, 2017

Artificial Intelligence and journalism – what the future holds


London Press Club members were taken on a fascinating – and highly entertaining – journey into the future of Artificial Intelligence at a sold-out event at The Corinthia Hotel last night.

Toby Simpson, Chief Technology Officer of global learning company Ososim painted a compelling portrait of what life with AI will look like in years to come – and reassured journalists that far from making them redundant, this cutting-edge technology will actually compliment their work.

“It will be like having a thousand personal assistants, all specialising in different areas that are able to help,” he said. “There is something uniquely human about being able totoby tell a story and there are all sorts of ‘narrow AI’ things out there that claim to be able to write stories but can only do so with a huge amount of data – and they don’t understand the story that they are telling.”

The packed Q&A session was chaired by Mark Blunden, Technology Reporter at the London Evening Standard.

“The rise of intelligent machines generated huge interest at Monday night’s packed event, with the audience’s knowledge and breadth of questioning showing what a hot topic AI is for journalists across specialisms,” said Mark.

“Thanks to Toby Simpson for giving us all a glimpse into the future, and for separating the myth from the possible.”

Toby’s presentation began with the reassuringly-entitled slide, Artificial Intelligence: No, we’re not all going to die, which dispelled the Sci-fi notion of a world overrun by machines, explaining that the current limitations of ‘narrow AI’ – such as voice recognition and driverless cars – are still no match for the human mind.

Toby Simpson of Ososim (left) and the London Evening Standard’s Mark Blunden

“It is this incredible ability to generalise, to plan, consider and apply that sets us aside from machines,” he said.

To much laughter from his audience, Toby illustrated the point with an image of a cow, taken by Google Maps’ Street View, with the animal’s face pixelated – to protect its identity.

But game-changing AI is making headway and Toby explained how AI will give us something akin to super human powers in years to come.

“You would never forget a name or face, you would never get lost, everything you needed to know at any moment would be right there in front of your eyes without you needing to think or do anything,” he said.

He added that true AI can “transform our lives overnight forever in ways we can’t even begin to imagine. Combine this with 3D printers, super-high bandwidth mobile access to the global network wherever we are, and our lives are going to be simply unrecognisable in 50 years.”

Improvements to AI are being made all the time and Toby told the audience that before we have even realised it, “narrow AI forerunners will continue to augment and transform our lives in many exciting ways. I believe it’s a future worth looking forward to.”

Chairman of London Press Club, Doug Wills, said:  “We always try to offer our members the broadest range of topics that will challenge their thinking. This doesn’t come much wider than hearing about how robots of the future could think like humans. Interesting times ahead!”

Vikki Cook, London Press Club director and Events Committee chair, said: “Toby gave one of the most engaging and humorous takes on Artificial Intelligence I’ve heard.  A brilliant speaker, Toby was the perfect start to our Autumn gatherings in our wonderful home at the Corinthia hotel”

The next London Press Club event at the Corinthia Hotel will take place on 24 October. For further details on joining The London Press Club, please visit here.

About Deborah Collcutt

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