Simon Ings and Hannah Fry on the Rise Artificial Intelligence
From the Read Smart Podcast, Presented by the Baillie Gifford Prize
To mark 21 years of rewarding the best non-fiction writing, The Baillie Gifford Prize has launched a new podcast generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation. On the second series of the podcast, host Razia Iqbal will explore the increasingly popular world of non-fiction books. Each episode includes discussions and interviews with prize-winning authors, judges and publishing insiders, with guests including prize winner David France (How to Survive a Plague, 2017), publishing director at John Murray Georgina Laycock, 2020 prize judge Simon Ings, 2019 shortlisted author Hannah Fry, and many more.
On today’s podcast, host Razia Iqbal discusses the rise in use and popularity of artificial intelligence with British novelist, scientist and 2020 Baillie Gifford prize judge, Simon Ings and mathematician Hannah Fry, author of 2018 Baillie Gifford Prize shortlisted book Hello World: How to be Human in the Age of the Machine. They explore our relationship, trust, and increasing dependency on machines; issues around privacy; and if creating is solely a human skill or if technology can produce original art.
From the conversation:
Razia: Hannah, let’s start by getting you to explain to us what artificial intelligence is and how it has over time crept into everyday life to the point where many of us are probably not even aware of the way in which it is used and the way it uses us.
Hannah: Yeah, I think that’s that’s an important point. OK, so I think that artificial intelligence, the definition of it changes depending on who you ask. So I think that for me, broadly speaking, lots of lots of people right now would say this: artificial intelligence is where you get a machine to learn something about its surroundings or about data and to create decisions based on that learning. So, for instance, if I’ve got a light bulb in my house that’s a super smart light bulb that’s connected to the Internet, if I can program that light bulb to come on at 7 pm and dims slightly at 9 pm and turn itself off at 11 pm—that’s just a standard algorithm. Whereas if that light bulb learns what I like, learns that I tend to come home at quarter past seven and I like to have the lights dimmed around nine when I’m doing my reading and then I go to bed at eleven. If it’s the algorithm itself learning about my behavior that is artificial intelligence.
Read Smart Podcast is commissioned by The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction and is generously supported by the Blavatnik Family Foundation.