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Artificial intelligence needs more than artificial trust

The technology that makes facial recognition possible is paving the way for machines to recognise feelings, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK



The great irony of artificial intelligence (AI) and devices that recognise our voices, faces and fingerprints is that they are oblivious to our thoughts and feelings.

“We need to rethink our relationship with technology,” says Rana el Kaliouby, co-founder and CEO of an AI company called Affectiva. “Machines know a lot about us but are completely oblivious to our emotional and cognitive states. Yet, AI is going to change only the way we connect with our devices, but it will fundamentally change the way we connect and communicate with human beings.”

She is speaking in a packed out session at Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas, where more than 15,000 paying delegates are receiving a deep dive into topics as diverse as cloud computing and sustainability of the oceans. Her concern is that, as much as machines need to win the trust if humans, so humans must also win the trust of machines. That sounds absurd for inanimate objects, but this form of artificial trustwill be essential in a future where machines will be expected to assess both our identities and our moods, not to mention our needs.

El Kaliouby earned a PhD in machine learning at CambridgeUniversity, and helped found Affectiva in Boston, USA, to put into practice her research.

“I spent the last 20 years working to build algorithms that understand people’s emotional states, cognitive states, and apply them to the technology around us that makes them more effective.”

The reality, she discovered, is that as we imbue machines with greater intelligence, we must also imbue ourselves with a greater ethical mission.

“We need a news social contract between humans and machines. It’s a two way street. Can AI trust humans? And what will it take to have reciprocal trust? There are a lot of examples of where it goes wrong, like the chatbot on Twitter that became racist, a self driving car that kills people, and a face recognition system that discriminates against people, especially women of colour.

“Sometimes trust is explicit, but most times it is implicit, manifested in subtle interactions like tone of voice and facialexpression. The core of that is empathy. People who havehigher empathy tend to be more liable to be trusted andtherefore more persuasive and tend to be more successful in their personal lives.

“We can’t work with people we don’t trust, and I argue it is the same with AI. We have a lot of common intelligence but not enough emotional intelligence. What if a computer can tell the difference between a smile and smirk? Both involve the lower half of face but have very different meanings.”

She gives the example of the contrast between physical healthcare and mental healthcare. When people walk into doctors rooms they don’t ask what their temperature or blood pressure is, they just measure it. But in mental health care, the practitioner must ask, typically on a scale of 1 to 10, how much the person is hurting.

“The science of emotions has been around for over 200 years,since Duchenne de Boulogne mapped out stimulation of human muscles, through to a modern facial action coding system. It takes a 100 hours of training to become a professional facial analyser. It’s very time-intensive, and it’s not scalable. We use machine learning and big data and tons of computing power to speed up that process. Imagine when that becomes instant?”

The most immediate practical application of the technology is likely to be in the automotive sector, and long before self-driving cars become the norm. However, it is with cars that can switch between human-control and self-driving that the technology will come into its own.

“Our system detects four levels of drowsiness. If you are able to detect that in real time, the car can intervene in a number of ways to make it a safer driving experience. It can tell if you are using your cellphone while driving. By detecting eye gaze direction and using object detectors, the system tells us you’re not keeping your eyes on the road and looking at a smartphone. 

“How can a car react if it senses you’re distracted or drowsy? It can start with an alert. If the vehicle is semi-autonomous, it can say ‘I can be a better driver than you’, and it can take over control.

“Ina  few years, with robo-taxis, the car will still need to understand how many people are in the vehicle, what’s the mood in there, are people stressed or enjoying the ride and, if not, how can we craft the riding experience to make it more enjoyable?”

She points out that luxury car brands are in stress, because their marketing message revolves around the driving experience. Once the owner is no longer driving, the experience will still remain the key.

That, however, does not address the subtle ethical concernsthat are somewhat more nuanced than a car killing its passengers. Many supposedly cutting edge systems useCaucasian faces to “train” the algorithms to become intelligent and distinguish between faces. The result is that they have difficulty identifying non-Caucasian faces. Even within this sub-set, however, there are cultural differences that affect expressions. Affectiva addressed the issue from the start.

“We have amassed 5-billion facial frames from around world,” says El Kaliouby. “We collect spontaneous facial expressions as people go about their daily activity, and there are numerous cultural and gender differences. Women are more expressive than men but it differs by culture. So in theUK there is no significant difference, but in the USA there is a 40% difference.

“Our data is diverse, not only by gender and culture, but also context, like wearing glasses, or blurry photos, as well as by gender, age, and race diversity. It’s not perfect, but at least we are thinking about it and trying to avoid accidentally discriminating based on ethnicity.”

• Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee


Cisco unveils ‘Internet for the future’ silicon breakthrough

Cisco One is a new silicon architecture that can be used in any form factor, while Cisco 8000 will reduce cost of building and operating mass scale networks



Cisco today unveiled a series of innovations it says will underpin “the Internet for the Future”. It launched Cisco Silicon One, a new networking silicon architecture, and the Cisco 8000 Series, the world’s most powerful carrier class routers built on the new silicon.

Chuck Robbins, chairman and CEO of Cisco, said its technology strategy was to build a new internet designed to push digital innovation beyond the performance, economic and power consumption limitations of current infrastructure. It would be a multi-year approach that will define the Internet for decades to come.

“Innovation requires focused investment, the right team and a culture that values imagination,” said Robbins. “We are dedicated to transforming the industry to build a new internet for the 5G era. Our latest solutions in silicon, optics and software represent the continued innovation we’re driving that helps our customers stay ahead of the curve and create new, ground-breaking experiences for their customers and end users for decades to come.”

Building Blocks

Cisco said in its announcement: “Over the next decade, digital experiences will be created with advanced technologies — virtual and augmented reality, 16K streaming, AI, 5G, 10G, quantum computing, adaptive and predictive cybersecurity, intelligent IOT, and others not yet invented. These future generations of applications will drive complexity beyond the capabilities current internet infrastructure can viably support.

“For the past five years, Cisco has driven a technology strategy that is building the internet our customers will need for the future success of their business in an advanced digital world. Aimed at solving the toughest problems that will emerge as digital transformation taxes current infrastructure to its breaking point, this strategy will lead to the next-generation of internet infrastructure that combines Cisco’s new silicon architecture with its next-generation of optics. 

“Cisco’s strategy will change the economics behind how the internet will be built to support the demands of future, digital applications and will enable customers to operate their businesses with simpler, more cost-effective networks.”

Cisco says its strategy is based on development and investments in three key technology areas: silicon, optics and software.

David Goeckeler, executive vice president and general manager of the Networking and Security Business at Cisco, elaborated: “Pushing the boundaries of innovation to the next level — far beyond what we experience today — is critical for the future and we believe silicon, optics and software are the technology levers that will deliver this outcome.

“Cisco’s technology strategy is not about the next-generation of a single product area. We have spent the past several years investing in whole categories of independent technologies that we believe will converge in the future — and ultimately will allow us to solve the hardest problems on the verge of eroding the advancement of digital innovation. This strategy is delivering the most ambitious development project the company has ever achieved.”

Visit the next page to read about the dramatic performance improvements in the new products.

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Building the Internet for the Future begins now

By JONATHAN DAVIDSON, SVP and general manager of Cisco’s Service Provider Business



Jonathan Davidson presents at the Cisco #InternetForTheFuture event in San Francisco this week

“We do not remember days; we remember moments.” Those words from Cesare Pavese have been one of my personal favorites. Interestingly, we remember thesesignificant, or “flashbulb” moments in our lives in vivid detail. We rememberexactly where we were, whom we were with, what we felt, or even what we werewearing. One of my flashbulb moments was 20 years ago in 1999 when Brandi Chastain made the winning penalty shot during the Women’s World Cup inspectacular fashion. At the time, I was coaching my oldest daughter’s soccer team.That victory felt like the start of something big. It had this wonderful feeling thatwomen’s soccer was going to change for the next generation.

I believe we are having one of those “flashbulb” moments right now in the networking industry. Years from now, we will look back and remember this moment in time. Because today, Cisco revealed breakthrough innovations sosignificant and expansive, they will change the economics of the Internet forthe next generation.

Significant technological innovations have defined human history. The steamengine replaced muscle with machinery. With the telegraph, communications exceeded the speed of animals. And, with the Internet, information wasdigitized, and global communities were created.

IP infrastructure connects our world. The Internet has profoundly changed the waywe work, live, play, and learn – anything, anywhere, anytime. The results are astounding. Our ability to connect and collaborate has caused society to evolve faster than ever before. We have made more progress in mitigating wars, preventing famine, and curing disease in the last 35 years than in the previous35,000.

Today is the moment when we enter a new phase of the Internet. Technologiessuch as 5G, IoT, 3D printing, and advanced analytics are connecting more, increasing participation, and pushing digitization further. And as a result, industries like mining becomes safer, agriculture becomes more efficient, transportation becomes autonomous, and healthcare becomes wellness-driven, not crises-driven. The possibilities are endless. And service providers will be the catalysts for changing economies, countries, and the world because at the very heart of this next transformation is the network infrastructure that makes it all possible.

The route to success for service providers is not straightforward or simple. There are fundamental business challenges. Networks, which are already huge, must become even more massive. And to succeed, service providers need to transform not only their infrastructure but their operations and their business models as well.

Our current network economics will begin to break as we evolve to operate at massive scale. The physics behind our past achievements are already showing signs of slowing down, while traffic growth continues to accelerate. So far, performance increases have helped to reduce the cost of traffic at about the same rate that traffic has increased. $1 in CapEx today does eleven times the work that it did just a few years ago. However, continuing with the status quo will likely lead to a significant increase in CapEx unless we reinvent the rules.

The cost of operations must be reduced too. Today, many operators spend almost $5 in OpEx for each $1 of CapEx. With current network management technology, that situation is likely to get worse, as the larger a network becomes, the more inefficient it is to operate unless we reinvent the rules.

With innovation from a technology pioneer that spans multiple dimensions across silicon, optics, software, and systems to create entirely new network architectures, this is that “flashbulb moment” when Cisco is redefining the economics of the Internet.


Redefining the economics of the Internet has to begin at the foundation. The very “DNA” of the Internet itself. The engine to a car. Silicon.

Moore’s law is stalling. While the rest of the industry slows down from the physics of traditional approaches, we have unlocked new dimensions of innovation. By rethinking silicon design entirely, we can deliver industry-leading performance today and create a “fast lane” to the future. We are excited to introduce our groundbreaking programmable silicon architecture, Cisco Silicon One. The first member of this new family, Cisco Silicon One Q100, delivers over twice the network capacity and twice the power efficiency over any other silicon. It is the first routing silicon to break through the 10Tbps barrier without compromising carrier-class capabilities (e.g., feature richness, large buffers, advanced programmability). And Cisco Silicon One is available right now; we won’t make you wait for it.

The innovations in Cisco Silicon One bring significant value to lowering operational costs as well. In the past, multiple types of silicon have been used across a network and even within a single device. Feature development was inconsistent. Telemetry varied dramatically.

Operators had to spend too much time and effort coordinating and testing parity of new features across the network. Now, a single silicon architecture can serve different market segments, different functions, and various form factors for a unified experience that dramatically reduces costs of operations and time-to-value for new services.


Optic costs matter. At lower interface speeds, optics were roughly 10% of the total solution cost, and systems accounted for the remaining 90%. At 400G and beyond, that equation flips. Optics become the dominant part of the total spend.This dynamic needs to change, a long-term strategy is required to make it easier to deploy both short-reach and long-haul optics solutions.

Cisco is investing in technologies like silicon photonics to accelerate the adoption of 400G and prepare for the future beyond 400G. Our recent acquisition of Luxtera brings a highly automated wafer-scale manufacturing process to Cisco that improves production volumes and quality.


If silicon is the engine of a car, the software is the steering and suspension to enable phenomenal handling. Even the world’s most advanced silicon can be wasted without the right software to steer correctly and operate smoothly. Imagine the ride at 400 km/h without proper steering and suspension. Any unfortunate bump or turn could be disastrous.

To redefine the economics of operating a network, the Internet of the future needs software that recognizes operations is just as important as functionality. Cisco IOSXR7, the new release of our industry-leading Networking Operating System (NOS), has been overhauled to prioritize operations – with simplicity and automation. It has been simplified to reduce required resources, install procedures, and deployment efforts (e.g. zero-touch).

Most notably, XR7 has been completely modernized. XR7 is the first-of-its-kindcloud-enhanced NOS. XR7 can leverage new cloud-delivered SaaS deployment models from Cisco Crosswork Cloud to enhance operations. Now, operations team scan optionally consume insights and analytics as a service for agile, proactive management without the risks and resources of traditional models.


Now, we get to the “car” itself. With new silicon and new software, we can build new systems that have the performance, efficiency, and operational improvements to meet the next wave of traffic demand. Today, we introduce theCisco 8000 series routers, new systems optimized for high-density 100GbE and400GbE, including:

  • 2 fixed platforms – providing 10.8Tb/s of network bandwidth starting at I RU
  • 3 modular form-factor platforms – 8 slots, 12 slots and 18 slots delivering upto 115 Tbps, 172 Tbps and 260 Tbps respectively

These are systems designed without compromise and with a very bright future.No oversubscription. Full fabric redundancy. Power efficiency down to as little as4 Watts/Gb. That is 1/4 to 1/5th the amount of power that our nearest competitor uses. And a “clean sheet” design allows us to grow into 1.6 TbE interfaces and beyond.

Wait, there’s more. The most distinctive characteristic of the Cisco 8000 relates to trustworthiness. Networks are critical infrastructure as they connect industries,finance, utilities, and governments and service providers must maintain the integrity of their infrastructure. The chain of trustworthiness begins by knowing whether or not the hardware and software are authentic. The Cisco 8000 Series are equipped with tamper-proof hardware that serves as the root of trust to prevent any modification of the hardware or software. Next, the NOS, XR7, works with Cisco Crosswork Cloud to provide real-time visibility and control to deliver the trustworthy networks that the Internet requires.


To grow to the size and capabilities that the next generation will demand, the Internet requires fundamental changes. We reinvented from the ground up, the DNA, the performance curve, operations, trust, and even the rules. We reinvented what Cisco does best.

And these reinventions will allow us to build the future on new architectures –converged, cloud-enhanced, and trustworthy. We that work in the networking industry will hopefully remember this moment years from now. I hope it is just as vivid a memory as Brandi Chastain’s winning goal 20 years ago.

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