The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn | Jeremy Howard |

The wonderful and terrifying implications of computers that can learn | Jeremy Howard |

Published on Dec 6, 2014

This talk was given at a local TEDx event, produced independently of the TED Conferences. The extraordinary, wonderful, and terrifying implications of computers that can learn

Jeremy is the CEO of Enlitic, which uses recent advances in machine learning to make medical diagnostics faster, more accurate, and more accessible. The company’s mission is to provide the tools that allow physicians to fully utilize the vast stores of medical data collected today, regardless of what form they are in – such as medical images, doctors’ notes, and structured lab tests.

He is a serial entrepreneur, business strategist, developer, and educator. He is also the youngest faculty member at Singularity University, where he teaches data science, and is a Young Global Leader with the World Economic Forum. He advised Khosla Ventures as their Data Strategist, identifying the biggest opportunities for investing in data driven startups, and helping their portfolio companies build data driven businesses. Previously he was the President and Chief Scientist of Kaggle, a community and competition platform for over 150,000 data scientists.

Before working at Kaggle, he was the top ranked participant in data science competitions globally, in 2010 and 2011. He founded two successful Australian startups (the email provider FastMail, and the insurance pricing algorithm company Optimal Decisions Group), both of which grew internationally and were sold to large international companies. He started his career in management consulting, working at the world’s most exclusive firms, including McKinsey & Co, and AT Kearney (becoming the youngest engagement manager world-wide, and building a new global practice in what is now called “Big Data”).

He is also a keen student, for example developing a new system for learning Chinese, which he used to develop usable Chinese language skills in just one year. Jeremy has mentored and advised many startups, and is also an angel investor. He has contributed to a range of open source projects as a developer, and was a regular expert guest on Australia’s most popular TV morning news program “Sunrise”.


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  • Rosaliene Bacchus  On December 7, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    We have created machines that can learn, listen and understand, speak, see, and write. With its capacity to do all these things, and faster than humans can, machines are now being taught to perform medical diagnostic tests.

    Created by humankind to serve our needs, our “deep learning” machine is here to stay and, according to our demands for greater productivity at lower costs, is becoming more intelligent every day. As we are all aware, one technician at a machine (the weaponized drone comes to mind) can now do the job that required ten or more human beings.

    Jeremy Howard raises an important question: How are we going to adjust to a world in which the output of machines far outpace the need for human labor? Perhaps the machines will decide for us.

  • Albert  On December 7, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    “How are we going to adjust to a world in which the output of machines far outpace the need for human labor”

    In his book THE SECOND MAHINE AGE Andrew McAfee show some of the results currently happening. One simple example is with Income Tax preparation. Almost everyone uses a computer program to prepare income tax. Manual tax preparers have lost this job thanks to INTUIT and others. One report has it that in the next 10-20 years medical diagnostic technology will reduce the need for 50% of the doctors. Consumers will get better and cheaper services but those who own the technology stand to make a fortune.

  • Clyde Duncan  On December 7, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    “The Wonderful and Terrifying Implications of Computers …”?? That is not what comes to my mind after watching this TED presentation. I could not stop thinking of why aren’t they talking about deploying this innovative technology on the surface of the Moon or further afield? This computer technology could prepare the way for humans and our survivability. As it is, we are building ships to launch humans into the unknown – quite like they did more than 500-years ago. I am saying current plans for getting us to the Moon and Mars are outdated. So what if they never return …?? I believe we have grown beyond that infantile thinking.

  • Clyde Duncan  On December 8, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    They say that there is no scientific evidence that mental telepathy is a real phenomenon. But, I honestly believe that civilizations before us used “mental telepathy” – that is the transmission of information from one person to another without using any of our known sensory channels or physical interaction. Nevertheless, I believe we are replicating mental telepathy of prior civilizations through the development of computer technology, or technology in general.

    In other words, I believe we lost the ability to reason and communicate in that manner, some where along the way and we are now developing an alternative method through computer technology. It will allow us to improve on primitive vehicles like the rovers we deploy on other planets, among other things. [primitive by the standards of past civilizations] – Intuition, hunch, etc. are forms of unexplainable communication, I believe.

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