A Blog by Jonathan Low


Jun 19, 2019

What Can Artificial Intelligence Tell Us About Fine Art?

Dissecting the interrelationship between aesthetics, sentiment and memorability reveals a complex interplay between the emotional and artistic quality.

Which may explain paintings of wide-eyed children on black velvet but will hopefully not encourage painters to find inspiration strictly from the data....JL

Michelle Hampson reports in IEEE Spectrum:

Beautiful paintings are not necessarily memorable. Researchers are using machine-learning algorithms to explore the relationship between aesthetics, sentimental value, and memorability of art. Models that reflect human preferences uncover subtleties that influence human judgment when it comes to art. The model found bold and intense paintings are the most pleasing. But the factors that make art more attractive, such as color harmony and vividness, negatively correlate with the sentimental value of an image.Abstract paintings are memorable, but have a low aesthetic score; landscapes are pleasing to the eye, but not memorable.

Why Apple, Google and Facebook Are Raiding Animal Research Labs For AI Talent

Animal research, particularly involving neuroscience, may offer faster insights into how brains function in ways that may inform faster, more useful artificial intelligence. JL

Sarah McBride and Ashlee Vance report in Bloomberg:

Software development attracts tech companies to neuroscientists just as strongly as their insights about animal cognition. The modern brain researcher has to know how to code and work with volumes of information, much as an AI staffer at Google would to improve an advertising algorithm or the lane-merging abilities of a self-driving car. Animal-centric neuroscientists are accustomed to working with unconventional ideas. Studying this area has led to insights into how neural circuits function, informing how humans move, feel, and emote. Neuroscientists are drawn to the private sector to do more exciting, weirder work

Google CEO Acknowledges YouTube Is Too Big To Completely Fix

Too big to manage? JL

Todd Haselton reports in CNBC:

Google CEO Sundar Pichai says YouTube is too big to completely fix the site’s problems with harmful content. “Any large scale systems, it’s tough. Think about credit card systems, there’s some fraud in that. ... Anything when you run at that scale, you have to think about percentages. Let’s say we’re getting it right 99% of the time, you’ll still be able to find examples. Our goal is to take that to a very, very small percentage well below 1%.”Pichai said Google probably can’t get that to 100%.

Did Cellphones Bring Down Crime Rates In the 1990s?

Just as they did in other aspects of commerce, cellphones may have reduced the importance of tangible assets such as 'turf,' while enhancing the benefits of intangibles like scale, speed and privacy. JL

Alexis Madrigal reports in The Atlantic:

The diffusion of phones could explain 19 to 29% of the decline in homicides seen from 1990 to 2000. Cellphones changed how drugs were dealt. In the ’80s, turf-based drug sales generated violence as gangs attacked and defended territory, and allowed those who controlled the block to keep profits high. The cellphone broke the link between turf and selling drugs. (Also) property crime fell as cellphone-ownership rates climbed and phones allow illegal behavior to be reported more easily and quickly.

Who Says Social Media Influencers With Millions of Followers Have To Be Human?

Giving new meaning to the notion of make versus buy...JL

Tiffany Hsu reports in the New York Times:

Why hire a celebrity, a supermodel or even a social media influencer to market your product when you can create the ideal brand ambassador from scratch? Xinhua, the Chinese government’s media outlet, introduced a virtual news anchor, saying it “can work 24 hours a day.” Coca-Cola and Louis Vuitton have used video game characters in ads. Computer-generated teachers respond to human students. Lil Miquela, who has 1.6 million Instagram followers, is a computer-generated character. “Social media has been the domain of real humans being fake. Avatars are a future of storytelling.”

Consumer Data Is Increasingly Shaping Creative Advertising. Does That Mean Less Originality?

Not necessarily, though there are concerns that if every brand follows identical or even similar data, the crucial element in customer engagement, differentiation, may become less effective. JL

Matthew Kassel reports in the Wall Street Journal:

Thanks to a preponderance of specific information about consumers collected from social media, surveys and search engines, agencies are making creative choices based on what the data dictate. (But some believe) an overreliance on consumer information has taken spontaneity and surprise out of the creative process, leading to homogeneity in advertising. Data may become less central to the creative process in the future as concerns over consumers’ private information become more of a priority. If that day should come, “What’s the oldest data point in the world? Your gut.”

Why the Threat To the Digitally Dominant Leaders May Be Significant

Because core business growth for Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook has slowed, pushing them to  take more strategic risks, replete with anti-competitive behavior.

When enterprises are dominant and robust, there is no need to do so. When that changes, so does the threat calculus. JL

Ben Thompson reports in Stratechery:

Google has yet to come up with a second act in revenue and profits. This is why Google is most at-risk: when a company is growing, it has no need to engage in anti-competitive behavior; only when the low-hanging fruit is gone the risk of leveraging one market into another becomes worth it. Apple introduced “Services”  when iPhone growth plateaued. The rent collected from apps was not an added bonus to the iPhone but a core driver of the company’s stock. Instagram bought Facebook another five-to-ten years of dominance, evidence that social networks are not forever. Amazon’s consumer business has slowed,pushing more into ads, squeezing suppliers, and driving customers to merchants with higher margins (for Amazon)