When you think of southern Spain, you probably think hot and dry. Although that is mostly accurate, the watery marches of the lower Guadalquivir River are in fact home to the largest rice fields on the Iberian Peninsula. Not only is its cultivation an engine of the local economy, the area, which borders on the Doñana nature reserve, is also a popular weekend destination for nearby urbanites in search of rural respite.
It is here that you can find Casa Paco, a charming country restaurant with local cuisine and an expansive shady patio. And it is where my family and I recently gathered with friends to share big platters of avocado slices topped with thin shavings of cured goat cheese and toasted almonds, followed by an enormous soup bowl filled with a rich rice and duck stew. Sipping an after-lunch coffee and picking up a sweet orejita de habas, my wonderfully inquisitive friend María Luisa turned to me and asked, “Esther, you work in software. I am curious. What is this thing… the singularity?”
Our team has been exploring the challenges of ensuring digital ethics in the design of artificial intelligence (AI), but now I had to explain it… and in Spanish! Fortified by my research – and the large glass of red wine I’d had with our meal – I launched into a soliloquy about the potential of AI to evolve and change every aspect of our lives as we know it and added in a lot of scary and colorful examples. Despite not being totally off, my answer was neither crisp nor, I’m afraid, particularly memorable. And that has been bothering me ever since. It’s what inspired me to write this article.
Should you happen to be dining with friends and talk turns to artificial intelligence, its subdivisions and potential evolutions, I hope this “menu” comes in handy. My goal here is to make these definitions as tapa-sized as possible. Additionally, I provide a little more explanation and one additional source for further reading and rumination. It doesn’t mean that it’s the best source; it’s just the one that I found most helpful if I could choose only one. Many people define these terms somewhat differently and in more depth. The interesting and valuable information available is most certainly worth reading if you have the appetite for it. So please just think of this as a plate of starters.
Click here to download the “AI Menu” as a pdf (in both English and Spanish). And to my friend María Luisa, ¡Sigue preguntando!
And if all that isn’t enough, here are some suggestions for further reading and listening:
- Max Tegmark’s book, Life 3.0: Being Human in the Age of Artificial Intelligence
- Yuval Noah Harari’s books, Sapiens, Homo Deus and 21 Lessons for the 21st Century
- Singularity FM Podcasts, hosted by Nikola Danaylov