Artificial intelligence researchers grappling with the Russian-Ukrainian war

Hello and welcome to Protocol Enterprise! Today: Artificial intelligence researchers debate how technology plays a role in modern conflicts like the invasion of Ukraine, Zendesk shareholders want it to stop monkeying around, and the week ahead for tech ‘business.

Twirl up

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find traditional industry sectors that are still resistant to cloud computing. Even two-thirds of needy accounting firms plan to adopt cloud technology in the next two years, according to the CPA Practice Advisorand a third will migrate over the next 12 months.

AI eggheads try to solve the Ukraine issue – on Twitter

In a world where banks tell us that buying something with the right carbon-offset credit card can cure climate change, it’s no surprise that AI researchers believe AI can resolve entrenched geopolitical conflicts. like what is happening in Ukraine right now. And of course, this conversation took place on Twitter.

Nando de Freitas, machine learning researcher at Google’s DeepMind, ask a question to the Twitter universe Thursday: “What role can the AI ​​community play in a world where bullies attack peaceful democratic countries and threaten the world?” I’m really curious to hear from everyone.

Leaving aside the question of whether or not “peaceful democratic countries” can be bullies themselves, de Freitas received a handful of responses from techno-optimists who see potential solutions that AI could create to combat these threats.

  • “AI can solve [the] problem by stabilizing the fusion reactor to produce free energy, thereby eliminating the oil hegemony of many nations,” writes [email protected]@R.
  • Of course, some pointed more directly to the obvious military implications of AI. “AI can and will have a huge impact on warfare and cyberwarfare,” wrote AI researcher @SouthernSummr. “If you think AI is irrelevant in warfare, you didn’t think so in the past. Computers aren’t just ‘fancy toys’.
  • AI teacher Irina Rish suggested that drones “instead of mobilizing” troops or denial of service attacks could thwart warmongering bullies.

Many viewed state-fueled propaganda and disinformation as something that AI not only enabled, but could help alleviate.

  • Former Googler and Algorithmic Transparency Advocate Guillaume Chaslot singled out YouTube. “The AI ​​community can tell @SusanWojcicki to stop using our work to promote dictators,” he wrote, noting that recommendations he worked on on YouTube helped promote content produced. by Russia Today, a Russian state-funded media outlet.
  • “We might want to think about the relationship between state-sponsored propaganda, mass murder, and our recommendation algorithms,” writes Anna Rogers, natural language processing researcher. But first, she said people should take more obvious approaches such as donating to relevant charities or writing to lawmakers in support of sanctions and aid.
  • “We need to urgently identify vulnerabilities in the current ML (recommendation) algorithms, which are now weaponized by cyber warfare,” writes Lê Nguyên Hoangwhich contributes to the creation of an open source and ethical video recommendation system called Tournesol.
  • Dan Roy, researcher and professor in artificial intelligence, tweeted that information systems should actually point people towards common ground. “We need to reconsider how information systems (particularly social media) produce feedback and how those systems can be controlled for social good,” he wrote. “We cannot allow systems to lead people to divergent beliefs.”

But not everyone has their technical glasses. Some people – even some in AI themselves – have said that this time, technology is not the answer.

  • “I think it’s time to get out of our bubble and accept that not everything lends itself to technological solutions,” writes Stan Onyime.
  • “The AI ​​community can and should recognize its own irrelevance here and actively use its oversized platform to give way, giving other, far more important people, causes, disciplines and entities air. and airtime”, tweeted Michael VealeAssociate Professor of Digital Rights and Regulation at UCL, University of London Law.
  • David Pfau, research scientist and colleague of de Freitas at DeepMind, also stepped out of the AI ​​void. “I don’t think there’s anything specific to the AI ​​community that doesn’t apply to other communities as well,” he said. wrote. “I think it would be better to ask ourselves what we can do as human beings.”

-Kate Kaye (E-mail | Twitter)


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Zendesk shareholder revolt

The Zendesk-Momentive saga finally came to an end on Friday after shareholders rejected the proposed acquisition of Zendesk. The decision follows a proxy battle initiated by Jana Partners following a Failed takeover bid by a group of private equity firms that reportedly valued Zendesk at $17 billion.

Zendesk first announced its intention to pursue an all-stock acquisition of Momentive (formerly known as Survey Monkey) in October last year. The company hoped that Momentive could strengthen its customer intelligence capabilities and generate combined revenue of $4.6 billion for businesses by 2025.

But investors were not on the same page. Last month Jana Partners wrote a letter to the board of directors pushing for the rejection of the acquisition. What followed was a back-and-forth between Zendesk management and Jana Partners, as well as consulting firms ISS and Glass Lewis. Jana Managing Partner Barry Rosenstein wrote a letter to the board stating that he should either be replaced or sell Zendesk to an interested buyer.

Zendesk’s future remains uncertain. If the proxy battle succeeds, four members of Zendesk’s board of directors will be replaced. The next time a takeover bid arises, Zendesk may not have the opportunity to decline it.

— Aisha counts (E-mail | Twitter)

Coming next week

Next week’s earnings calls could bring big news. Salesforce shares the results on Tuesday, and there’s been speculation that this could be the moment founder Marc Benioff hands over the reins of the company to co-CEO Bret Taylor. Zoom will also share profits after launching its contact center service this week, along with Box and Okta.

Zoom will announce fourth quarter results Mondays at 2 p.m. PT.

Selling power will share fourth quarter results Tuesdays at 2 p.m. PT.

Box will share financial results Wednesdays at 2 p.m. PT.

Okta will welcome his earnings call Wednesdays at 2 p.m. PT.

Also, don’t miss Protocol’s multicloud event on Wednesday at 10:00 a.m. PT.

— Aisha counts (E-mail | Twitter)


How do you optimize sales and marketing performance? Aim them at the same targets. Watch the latest episode of Club Revenue on Nasdaq as Bhaskar Roy, Chief Marketing Officer at Workato, reveals his remarkable tactics for marketing and sales to outperform.

Learn more

Thanks for reading – see you Monday!

James G. Williams