Technology

This Indian-made book has a chapter written by Artificial Intelligence

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Jaspreet Bindra’s book ‘The Tech Whisperer’ isn’t just for technology enthusiasts

In the 1950s, the fathers of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Marvin Minsky and John McCarthy loosely defined AI as “any task performed by a program or a machine that, if a human carried out the same activity, we would say the human had to apply intelligence to accomplish the task.” Where did we find this nugget of tech history? From a chapter written by AI on AI. Yes, you read that right. Adding to the list of AI achievements, including AI composing music and creating paintings, this would perhaps be the first time in publishing history that AI writes about itself.

In a detailed summary of Jaspreet Bindra’s The Tech Whisperer: On Digital Transformation and the Technologies that Enable It (Penguin India, ₹599), AI has analysed, among other questions, whether it will replace livelihoods or create jobs, whether it will create a more humane society or an amoral world. On the surface, it is hard to tell if an AI or a human being wrote the chapter because the writing combines logic, facts, and structure. On in-depth reading (which was done to nitpick, to support the argument that AI can never replace humans), what was found wanting was a person’s humane, conversational voice and descriptive style that makes a piece of writing a joy to read. The chapter was packed with facts, but is that enough to make it worth a read? That is a subjective question. The idea behind creating an AI engine to write, however, is definitely innovative.

This Indian-made book has a chapter written by Artificial Intelligence

Jaspreet, an expert on digital transformation, blockchain, and other emerging technologies, says, “The idea came to me when I was watching the video on how IBM’s Project Debater competed against debating champion Harish Natarajan. This followed other man-versus-machine contests: Deep Blue defeating chess champion Garry Kasparov, Watson defeating Jeopardy! champions Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings, AlphaGo developed by Google DeepMind destroying Lee Sedol the undefeated champion of the strategy game Go... AI has also painted, created music... but, in my knowledge, had not yet published a chapter in a book! It was then that I thought what if AI can write on AI, on itself?”

To explore this possibility, Jaspreet got in touch with Anand Mahurkar, CEO of Findability Sciences, a Boston-based AI company. “The team built an AI engine which could write about itself.” Jaspreet describes the process of how the engine was built. “Findability Sciences used a product called FP-Summary™ which is an innovative unsupervised method for automatic sentence extraction using proprietary algorithms, to crunch reams of unstructured data on AI that I gave it (from Wikipedia, etc), and created a full 37 page chapter on itself!”

The rest of the book is not just meant for tech nerds, it is even for those who have hardly any knowledge or real interest in technology. “It is a book for everyone — digital practitioners as well as the many people who are intrigued/fascinated by technology, but are also a little scared by it.”

The corporate she-bang

The book also goes in-depth about companies that are looking to keep pace with rapid digital transformation. Even tech giants such as Apple and Microsoft (written extensively about in the book) have had to re-invent themselves in the face of digital transformation. “The book is divided into two parts. The first is largely focussed on corporate management and employees who want to bring technology into their company. This part focusses on defining digital transformation, describing what it is, and detailing practically how companies can make this happen. The second part demystifies and simplifies complex technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI), blockchain, Internet of Things, virtual reality, among others.” Even though the Internet has an abundance of articles on technology that you can skim through, the depth and the clarity with which Jaspreet has written about emerging technology provides a more nuanced understanding.

Flood of tech

This Indian-made book has a chapter written by Artificial Intelligence

On why he calls himself the tech whisperer, Jaspreet says, “Just as there are horse and dog whisperers, I am a tech whisperer, who has specialised knowledge for companies to engage with technological transformation. I do realise that it is a cacophonous world we live in. We look at our phone more than 2,000 times every day, to try and take in the half a million tweets, the 100,000 Instagram photos, 50 million WhatsApp messages which are sent every minute. Then there are the videos, the old and new social networks, the emails, and somewhere in the middle of all of this, a human being who actually wants to talk to you! As each of them tries to grab your attention, they try and shout louder and louder, they blink, they pop out, they transform themselves to emojis. I believe that a whisper can be heard far more loudly than a scream. Therefore, I have dredged into my experience to collect all these whispers.”

As for whether AI will replace human beings, Jaspreet says that prediction is too extreme. “AI will make some jobs redundant: jobs which are repetitive and mechanical — like data entry operators, paralegals, etc. However, as the Chinese AI guru Kai-Fu Lee posits, the jobs with high creativity and high compassion will remain and grow.” In fact, the 272-page book explores how AI might be effective in creating alternative jobs in place of redundant ones.

Jaspreet is quite the innovator, even when it comes to launching his book. In the Delhi launch, there was an AI painting and in Chennai, Jaspreet says, “The launch will be on November 29 at The Raintree, Anna Salai, at 4 pm. We are planning a quiz with Gaurav Sri Krishna... which will feature an AI.” Only time will tell if humans will win the intelligence game.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 8:34:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/technology/jaspreet-bindra-the-tech-whisperer-interview-2019/article30076761.ece

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