A game called Go
There’s a game called go. For lack of a better word, it’s perfect. All you need is a grid, and stones in two colors. You play a stone at an intersection on the grid. When you place stones of your color on all the intersections surrounding a given space, it’s your space, and your opponent can’t play there, even if they have stones there already. The goal is to surround more space than your opponent.
It’s simple enough to teach a toddler, and so complex there are more possible games than atoms in the universe. It’s 3,000 years old, and it’s a mathematical certainty there have never been two identical games. It’s as much intuition as intellect: play styles are so indicative of personality that companies have been known to use the game in job interviews. Go is one of the masterpieces of humanity, a microcosm of the H. sapiens mind.
This May, a computer program called AlphaGo beat the best player alive. I’m not here to talk about go. I’d like to talk about your car.
Your car, but not
More specifically, I’m here to talk about the robot apocalypse as it relates to your car, because a) the robot apocalypse is my jam; b) it has a surprising amount to do with a 3,000 year old board game, and the fact that Google can beat us at it.
Modulo singularity, computers can’t do anything we don’t tell them to. The power of AI is that we’ve told them, more or less, to think.
The danger of AI is that we haven’t settled on standards of what they are and aren’t allowed to think about.
That brings us to your car, because, in real terms, it’s not your car. Even if you own it, straight cash, your insurance company has a financial stake in it. Repair companies have to make pricing decisions for it. Governments have to regulate what you do with it, because you can use it to kill people.
Every one of those tasks gets easier with AI.
One little robot in your car, doing useful things for you from setting appointments to setting the AC, and suddenly the government gets to know when you ran over those nuns, the mechanic gets to know that’s where the dents in the bodywork came from, the insurance company gets to know it was your fault.
Maybe too smart?
The benefits of AI-enabled “smart cars” are myriad. I’m genuinely, personally psyched about it. That little robot promises to be a present help with everything from GPS to streaming media.
But the plain fact is, any smart car (not *that* kind of Smart Car) is going to be collecting data for the benefit of people other than you.
As we’ve covered in the past, AI is clueless about context.
Unless it’s told otherwise, it won’t know the difference between a hard brake to save a fluffy squirrel, and a pause to twirl your mustache before barreling down with malice aforethought on the Sisters of the Sacred Heart.
Those pesky insurance premiums
So is the insurance company, or the dealership, or the mechanic gonna tell it otherwise? More importantly, are they gonna tell it otherwise if it isn’t specifically delineated as their job to do so? Because, at the risk of cynicism, failing to tell the AI the difference between squirrel-saving and rank villainy is a really good way to jack up insurance premiums.
Worse, albeit ethically better, what about an insurance company acting in good faith to remove the random human element from at-fault assessment, thereby ceding it to something that’s literally incapable of making subjective decisions?
Remember that game from earlier?
Which is what brings us around to go. AlphaGo was a Google project and like I said, it beat the greatest player alive at the greatest game ever made. Know how? Layers. It was built on the DeepMind framework, which consists (massive oversimplification incoming!) of a set of tasks, each programmed to do one thing, running simultaneously.
This one assesses how many moves have been made in a given area recently, providing data on which parts of the board are contested.
That one is a memory algorithm, going back through previous games and identifying similar situations. The other parses the memory data for moves mathematically compatible with the current board. And so on.
It better compute
It works. It’s brilliant. But it works because it’s incredibly fast and incredibly efficient at moving data between those processes. It can’t generate new ones. It’s still only an approximation of a human mind, a box of switches arranged in a brilliant order by brilliant people. Nuance is not an option.
As long as that’s the case, which is to say, until someone builds a computer that’s also a person, every implementation of AI will have the option of “does not compute.” Smart cars are in the immediate future, and in the short term “does not compute” is likely to mean jacked up premiums, jacked up prices, and, for the self-driving crowd, quite possibly jacked up rides. Drive carefully.
9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work
(OPINION EDITORIALS) With more and more people joining the LGBTQIA+ community it’d do one well to think about ways to extend inclusiveness at work.
LGBTQIA+ people may have won marriage equality in 2015, but this momentous victory didn’t mean that discrimination was over. Queer and LGBTQIA+ identified people still have to deal with discrimination and not being in a work environment that supports their identities.
Workplace inclusivity may sound like the hottest new business jargon term on the block, but it actually just a professional way of making sure that everyone feels like a valued team member at the office. Business psychologists have found when people are happy to go to work, they are 12 percent more productive.
Making your business environment a supportive one for the queer community means you’re respecting employees and improving their workplace experience.
Here’s nine ways you can make your workplace more inclusive for LGBTQIA+ people.
1) Learn the basics.
If you’re wanting to make your workplace more open to LGBTQIA+ people, it’s best to know what you’re talking about. Firstly, the acronym LGBTQIA+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Intersex, and Asexual and the plus encompassing other identities not named; there are many variants on the acronym. Sexual orientations (like lesbian, gay, bisexual) are not the same as gender identities.
Transgender means that that person “seeks to align their gender expression with their gender identity, rather than the sex they were assigned at birth.” Cisgender means a person identifies with the sex they were assigned at birth. If you need a more comprehensive rundown about sexual orientation, gender identity, and the like, visit the GLAAD reference guide.
2) Stop using the word “gay” as an insult.
Or insinuating people you don’t like are “gay” together. This is the most basic thing that can be done for workplace inclusivity regarding the queer community. Anything that actively says that LGBTQIA+ people are “lesser” than their straight counterparts can hurt the queer people on your team and make them not feel welcome. It’s not cool.
3) Don’t make jokes that involve the LGBTQIA+ community as a punchline.
It’s not cute to make a “funny quip” about pronouns or to call someone a lesbian because of their outfit. This kind of language makes people feel unwanted in the workplace, but many won’t be able to speak up due to the lack of protections about LGBTQIA+ identities in anti-discrimination statutes. So stop it.
4) Support your colleagues.
If you’re in a situation and hear negative or inappropriate talk regarding the LGBTQIA+ community, stick up for your co-workers. Even if they’re not there, by simply expressing that what was said or done was inappropriate, you’re helping make your workplace more inclusive.
5) Avoid the super probing questions.
It’s okay to talk relationships and life with coworkers, but it can cross a line. If you have a transgender colleague, it’s never going to be appropriate to pry about their choices regarding their gender identity, especially since these questions revolve around their body.
If you have a colleague who has a differing sexual orientation than yours, questions about “how sex works” or any invasive relationship question (“are you the bride or the groom”) is going to hurt the welcomeness of your office space. Just don’t do it.
6) Written pronoun clarity is for everyone!
One thing that many LGBTQIA+ people may do is add their pronouns to their business card, email signature, or name badge for clarity. If you’re cisgender, adding your pronouns to these things can offer support and normalize this practice for the LGBTQIA+ community. Not only does it make sure that you are addressed correctly, you’re validating the fact that it’s an important business practice for everyone to follow.
7) Tokens are for board games, not for people.
LGBTQIA+ people are often proud of who they are and for overcoming adversity regarding their identity. However, it’s never ever going to be okay to just reduce them to the token “transgender colleague” or the “bisexual guy.”
Queer people do not exist to earn you a pat on the back for being inclusive, nor do they exist to give the final word on marketing campaigns for “their demographic.” They’re people just like you who have unique perspectives and feelings. Don’t reduce them just to a token.
8) Bathroom usage is about the person using the bathroom, not you.
An individual will make the choice of what bathroom to use, it does not need commentary. If you feel like they “don’t belong” in the bathroom you’re in due to their gender presentation, don’t worry about it and move on. They made the right choice for them.
An easy way to make restroom worries go away is creating gender neutral restrooms. Not only can they shorten lines, they can offer support for transgender, nonbinary, or other LGBTQIA+ people who just need to go as much as you do.
9) Learn from your mistakes.
Everyone will slip up during their journey to make their workplace more inclusive. If you didn’t use the correct pronouns for your non-binary colleague or misgender someone during a presentation, apologize to them, correct yourself, and do better next time. The worst thing to do is if someone corrects you is for you to shut down or get angry. An open ear and an open heart is the best way to make your work environment supportive for all.
The workplace can be a supportive environment for LGBTQIA+ people, or it could be a hurtful one, depending on the specific culture of the institution. But with some easy changes, it can be a space in which queer and LGBTQIA+ people can feel respected and appreciated.
“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever
(OPNION EDITORIAL) Between following rules, finding funding, and gathering research, no business succeeds without lifting a finger.
While browsing business articles this week, I came across this one, “Top 10 Business Ideas You Can Start for Free With Barely Lifting a Finger.” These types of articles make me mad. I can’t think of many successful freelancers or entrepreneurs who don’t put in hours of blood, sweat and tears to get a business going.
The author of the article is Murray Newlands, a “VIP Contributor.” Essentially, he’s a freelancer because he also contributes to Forbes, HuffPro and others. He’s the founder of ChattyPeople.com, which is important, because it’s the first business idea he promotes in the article.
But when I pull up his other articles on Entrepreneur.com, I see others like “How to Get Famous and Make Money on YouTube,” “Win Like A Targaryen: 10 Businesses You Can Start for Free,” and “10 Ventures Young Entrepreneurs Can Start for Cheap or Free.”
I seriously cannot believe that Entrepreneur.com keeps paying for the same ideas over and over.
The business ideas that are suggested are pretty varied. One suggestion is to offer online classes. I wonder if Newlands considered how long it takes to put together a worthy curriculum and how much effort goes into marketing said course.
Then, you have to work out the bugs, because users will have problems. How do you keep someone from stealing your work? What happens when you have a dispute?
Newlands suggests that you could start a blog. It’s pretty competitive these days. The most successful bloggers are ones that really work on their blog, every day. The bloggers have a brand, offer relevant content and are ethical in how they get traffic.
Think it’s easy? Better try again.
I could go on. Every idea he puts up there is a decent idea, but if he thinks it will increase your bottom line without a lot of hard work and effort, he’s delusional.
Today’s entrepreneurs need a plan. They need to work that plan, rethink it and keep working. They have to worry about liability, marketing and keeping up with technologies.
Being an entrepreneur is rewarding, but it’s hard work. It is incredibly inappropriate and grossly negligent to encourage someone to risk everything they have and are on the premise of not lifting a finger.
Why freelancers should know their worth
(OPINION EDITORIAL) Money is always an awkward talking point and can be difficult for freelancers to state their worth.
Recently, I delved into what I’ve learned since becoming a freelancer. However, I neglected to mention one of the most difficult lessons to learn, which was something that presented itself to me rather quickly.
“What is your fee for services?” was not a question I had prepared myself for. When it came to hourly rates, I was accustomed to being told what I would make and accepting that as my worth.
This is a concept that needs multiple components to be taken into consideration. You need to evaluate the services you’re providing, the timeliness in which you can accomplish said services, and your level of expertise.
Dorie Clark of the Harvard Business Review believes that freelancers should be charging clients more than what they think they’re worth. The price you give to your clients is worth quite a bit, itself.
Underpricing can send a bad message to your potential clients. If they’re in the market for your services, odds are they are comparing prices from a few other places.
Having too low of a number can put up a red flag to clients that you may be under-experienced. What you’re pricing should correlate with quality and value; set a number that shows you do good work and value that work.
Clark suggests developing a network of trustworthy confidants that you can bounce ideas off of, including price points. Having an idea of what other people in your shoes are doing can help you feel more comfortable when it comes to increasing prices.
And, for increasing prices, it is not something that is going to just happen on its own. It’s highly unlikely for a client to say, “you know what, I think I’ll give you a raise!”
It’s important to never take advantage of any client, but it’s especially important to show loyalty to the ones that have always been loyal to you. Test the waters of price increasing by keeping your prices lower for clients that have always been there, but then try raising prices as you take on new clients.
At the end of the day, keep in mind that you are doing this work to support yourself and, theoretically, because you’re good at it. Make sure you’re putting an appropriate price tag on that value.
9 ways to be more LGBTQIA+ inclusive at work
A real life robot battle: America vs Japan
“Starting a business is easy,” said only one guy ever
Time is money and Clockify helps you make the most
Cowrkr gives you accountability while you work solo
A few smarties are trying to create space cryptocurrency via Bitcoin
Microsoft’s Autism Hiring program really is driving innovation
LL Bean just stole the show with their invisible ink ad in the NYT
iPhone 8 Plus devices allegedly split open while charging #splitgate
Does creativity die as we age? Science says sorta
Amy’s Ice Cream founder on Austin’s business risks and rewards #WhyAustin
Turns out a lot of people are in between introverted and extroverted
P. Terry’s founder on the booming economy in Austin #WhyAustin
Ladies and gentlemen, the U.S. National Anthem
Indeed President, Chris Hyams tells us #WhyAustin [video]
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