Tuesday, July 04, 2023

In the AI world unfolding, how you’ll need your super power to work : diversity as you should know it!

They’re coming for you. Not the AI per se, but the CEOs driving AI. And to ensure you can still make a living you need to find your super power. That much I’ve told several writers recently, some from the BBC.

The CEOs won’t save your job. Their vision is to push the boundaries of tech knowledge, make considerable wealth, achieve Maslow’s highest order in its hierarchy of needs, and maximise shareholder profits. There’s nothing intrinsically wrong in this if you believe in the unfettered machinations of the market. But all is not well, was it ever?

The consequences of so many people losing their jobs, first it was unskilled labour, now the skilled and creatives are realising the heat, would border on incivility in society and a political class literally operating behind defences minimising contact with their electoral shareholders.

So what’s the solution? There is a model that could work, that could stave off complete disruption of work and leisure. It’s been proved to work and it won’t stem from CEOs stopping any AI development until policies are framed.

It’ll require human-ai co-operation and for humans it’ll mean finding your super power. And where might you acquire it from?

Onthe 11th May 1997 in New York City the world’s most formidable chess player Gary Kasparov would do something that shocked the world. He lost a chess tournament to a computer, IBM’s Deep Mind.

The world of AI had taken a major prize. A nascent technology in terms of its prowess today in neural networks and reinforcement learning, it provided an insight into the future.

That future was a year later when in June 1998 in León, Spain, Kasparov fought back. His solution, he explained would make chess players better, make the game more accessible to a wider audience, and would ameliorate technologists. It was a move that de facto set up a blue print for human-ai interaction.

Advanced chess, his design, brought humans and computing power together. It was predicated on his belief that some part of what humans did in chess was better served by computers, tactics. Kasparov could detect gains from individual moves — a feat bestowed on grandmaster chess players seeing the board in several patterned plays. But computers had an Achilles; they were poor at overall strategy — the overall sum of the game.

The game brought a different type of player to chess. By deploying teams these new winners harnessing AI knew how to use it to analyse their games and to find the best moves whilst they focused on the long game — strategy.

Strategy, involves emotions, though some CEOs will say that needs to be removed from the decision making. HBO’s fictional drama Succession, lays it all out. And Moravec’s paradox tells us computers are crap at emotions. Cue Star Trek Data’s emotion chip.

Another simple way of explaining strategy would be for me to decide what I wanted to write in this article and why ( strategy) and have Google Bard write it. But, and this is the but, I may even likely alter the text because it lacks that something, based on mine, or in your case your super power.

Success for chess and its players then? However there’s a catch! What do chess, football, Journalism, and many other professions have in common with each other? Generally they’re based on cognitive patterns in ‘narrow worlds’ that are discernible and can be replicated for solutions. Hence the more experienced you are, generally the better you are at solving these problems.

Narrow worlds point to specific domains which operate under codified guidelines. The term was coined by John McCarthy in his 1956 paper, “Programs with Common Sense” about AI solving domain specific problems..

Problem solving based on “narrow worlds” deploying experienced hands has been the accepted thought process that nominally has served society well. But there’s a false premise lurking in this the world we inhabit today, and with AI in our shadows.

Author with students circa 2006

For the last twenty odd years I’ve been teaching and training cohorts in computational, design and behavioural skills. That was rebooted in 2016 as the Digital Lab, and 2019 when, with a colleague, we launched Emerging Journalism, or as like to call it Applied Storytelling or the LAB.

An observation of students who take that elective tend to have a range of interests, from music, games, art, language and in some cases have n extraordinary super power in which they have an extraordinary gift for visualisation over words. That’s not to say they can’t or won’t write — some have gone on to become editors of national newspapers.

Yixiang, was a formidable concert player. She hid that from us, but there was a different quality to her work which when I questioned she revealed this. She’s now a senior financial journalist.

It’s more how they’re able to express themselves and see the world differently. My job at the lab is to enhance that, and my colleague and I do so by collapsing several, oft unrelated disciplines that impact thinking.

Almost all students come to the lecture with an idea and by our third lab start to turn on themselves and express their super power. How to solve a problem first guided by some expression, but by not being conventional. In fact the key statement is diversity.

No, wait, wait! For that brief moment, you might have thought “oh yeah right, I see!” Diversity here envelops culture, thought, hobbies, your life outlook, approach to problems.

Your super power is based on diversity of being and thought et al. The more different you are, and aren’t we all different, the more your super power for problem solving comes into play. In fact, the definition of the word super power is really your uniqu power. Super power is to think diversely.

Another observation from years of interactions, teaching and training is how diversity of thought within a homogenous group is different from that in a heterogenous group. It’s the unpredictable vs the crowd solution. And that’s not say the crowd solution isn’t right; of course it is and will be. But the expressive collective approach from the unknown is a super power, and one that AI will struggle to capture.

So how do you get there? Self nurturing. The students I first see already posses what philosopher Isaiah Berlin called Fox qualities. These are individuals that delve into many things. They realise the procedural and come to assess conceptual frameworks for dealing with issues.

Journalism isn’t writing, it’s problem solving and in an AI rich world, that added quality for the next gen is to harness the many discursive approaches emerging. In our lab for journalists we refer to them as Applied Storytellers for the application of a host of solutions towards creativity.

In many ways this approach makes sense. The problems that have beset us from old have relied on tried and tested, formats from another generation, a chess board in which the play is determinable from set patterns.

We tacitly and expressively know some of these approaches don’t work. Our attempts at addressing them have been swiped by old hands we deign know best. But these problems are still there. They are wicked problems that require innovative approaches, not for the sake of them, but now, this time, what AI will do.

To make a big thing of it, there needs to be a bigger discussion across disciplines and institutions. This is what my students say of the programme we run below. I’d like to have that massive discussion.

NB: If you’re a TV network we’ve devised an international game that we think is pretty amazing. It’s not unlike the reality game Physical: 100 and one I was involved in as editor for Nato’s War Games. Most images in this article were AI generated.

Here’s my scoping of my super power = diverse thinking. I’m British and Ghanaian. I grew up in Ghana, attended Prempeh College (Ashanti King Prempeh II’s college), I graduated in Applied Chemistry at Leicester, studied modules in Global Finance at LSE, then became a journalist.

I became an artist, and artist in residence at the Southbank Centre, hired by Jude Kelly CBE. My PhD from Dublin covers cognition and storytelling. I read several books a year. I’ve travelled and taught in Russia, China, India, Egypt, Ghana, South Africa, Canada, US, across the UK and Europe.

A lecturer at uni who worked in the health system and had knowledge of the ff said I had dyslexia, for the way I processed information. True or not, it’s never been a weight. You can read more about my background here 

Lies, Damn Lies, Ai and damn Truths- How TV News could overcome its lack of trust. It’s an AI and political move.


In less than a decade television news will be transformed. The screen you’re used to viewing on national networks will be transformed, not because executives sought to, but AI forced them to.

These are just some of our stories bringing together great young minds and experts in a platform being realised from an Innovation fund.

Arguably, one of the most tendentious aspects of television news are interviews and false hoods or lies promulgated by interviewees and presenters. The motive often lies in the idea that fact checking will take a while and a lie will transfer half way around the world, before, if anything it’s corrected.

How often might you have caught yourself screaming answers at a screen, or criticising a presenter because they missed the obvious follow up?

What then if online displays not only indicated either the likelihood of a falsehood by providing evidence in real time? This could be done now from our own ideation. Its use will be a political one first before it breaks into the norm. Another aspect that will have currency is establishing for viewers the relationship between journalists and their interviewees, providing watchers with information on the notion of objectivity.

Last year I was one Google’s reviewers for their EU Innovation news fund. One of the awardees was developing what I refer to as “social indexing”. The app reveals connections between the journalist and subject. I’m looking forward to catching up with their work in the future, as we look to our developments which will be documented in a forthcoming new platform.

All this comes at a time when trust is journalism is diminished and television news often appears powerless at addressing in real time skewed or propagated false narratives. That said TV News still tends to rank higher in trust levels above newspapers.

The problem with television News at present is embodied in the Icarus paradox in which the success of its process or product can be viewed as the reason for continuing with the status quo. Icarus’s success in flying also blindsided him to dangers ahead mapped out by author Danny Miller in a book of the same name.

From 2006 viewmagazine.tv reporting from New York and Miami — Can you trust the Media

Trust in journalism has been on a downward spiral for a while. In 2006, the figure was put at 44 percent of Americans. CBS’ 60 minutes and Dan Rather’s broadcast, dubbed Rathergate, and a September 2004 Gallup Poll illustrated how the American people took a dim view of the 4th estate.

Former New York Times writer Jayson Blair’s actions may have already sullied public opinion. Yet in each case of recognising Trust, the answer appears to be, as reported in Niemann labs’ Journalism faces a crisis in trust. Journalists fall into two very different camps for how to fix it a new form of journalism or ways to up trust levels.

These haven’t worked because it’s not just journalists that are at fault. The solution then is to make visible in real time actions via on-screen displays.

Imagine this exchange?

Presenter: Are hospital waiting lists coming down
Interviewee: yes
AI Index (AIIN) ( in real time with sources e.g. NHS England) Hospital waiting lists are
Presenter. [Interviewee] as you can see here on AIIN ( Ayan) this is the true figure. Would you care to correct what you said.

Presenter: You quoted a figure before. AIIN’s showing that figure was used by a health lobby, and that not only is there a social connection between you and that lobby, but a personal one. Your brother-in-law works there.

In the 1990s Bloomberg Business introduced a matrix on-air visual schema providing real time economic data for viewers. Deploying systems thinking applied across the product and process, we see how we can use AI (product) in a model that addresses the current problems with television’s transmission. It’s been sometime in the making when I presented to educationists and school children across the UK the concept.

Some notes on my work.

In 2005 I advocated from building a model online video hyperlinking reported within The Economist. This would help into drilling deeper into narratives. In 2006 I built a theoretical prototype Outernet (profiled on Apple Inc’s Pro front page here) , saying in years to come we’s be streaming from homes.

In 2006 in this article for the Press Gazette I further stated that different storylines could be placed online in “Acres of innovation — so what can video do for you?” No network was doing this at the time.

Over the years I’ve won various awards including the Knight Batten Award for Innovation in Journalism ( the first Brit to do so) and have lectured around the world including being picked as the 2018 Asper visiting professor of Journalism at the University of British Columbia.

I’m an Associate Professor/ Reader at the University of Cardiff where I run a programme in innovation and AI and have had a career in journalism working for top flight news outfits.

You can read more of my work as an news producer and innovator here

If you subscribe you’ll be the first to hear about out our new platform design © 16 Storeys which delves into the future by bringing together exciting young and expert practitioners across a range of disciplines.

In it I’ll be showing AI for news making and film making (such as this below), and the global MasterClass I’m set to deliver to documentary and filmmakers. I’ll explain why I believe it will greatly aid minorities.

If you’re in news, into AI, or a tech funder do drop me an email Gyimahd(at)Cardiff.ac.uk
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah
Associate Professor in Innovation in journalism and tech

Sunday, July 02, 2023

We're here because we’re failing generations in how to think through problems


One of the main issues in education and society is the lack of teaching systems thinking.

We’re programmed throughout our education to search for unitary or limited- view causes. And so long as our education system treats us this way, we’re none the wiser. It’s akin to the saying: “Don’t ask a fish what the temperature of the water is?” It wouldn’t have a scooby; its whole life has been in that environment.

On occassions there are simple solutions, but in human related problems that’s rarely the case. But we’re not taught that.

On a programme I’ve been running with colleagues for a decade we attempt to instil in our cohorts problem-solving (simple to compound) by considering different variables (often hidden) using systems.

We pose a number of problems in which we try and let them train themselves in understanding how different answers they may not have considered come into play.

For instance climate change is not just about climate and business, but a raft of other factors which must work together. The myth is people are not designed to think that way. Not true. It’s training that’s needed. It’s effortfull so requires training.

Here’s another interesting thought process that emerges in some guise in Sat tests. Which one is the odd one out? Pick one!

When the test was carried out on villagers in what was the USSR some years back, the answers astounded researchers. But what we now know is that the conceptual framework being used by the researchers was no better than those used by the villagers.

In other words, and to stretch it broadly, if you’re urban interacting with a villager to solve a problem, you’re no more smarter than they are by using conceptual thinking, such as the above.

This above patterning will work differently on differently people and cultures. Yet somehow researchers have convinced the world that these serve a great examples to decide a person’s intelligence.