Gemma Milne – Author, Technology Writer
Gemma Milne Copyright 2020. All rights reserved.
Gemma Milne isn’t messing around. The world is in trouble and not just because of COVID-19. Hype and fraud fascinates her and Artificial Intelligence is one of those areas rife in both. Milne is on a mission to get everyone talking about it…properly.
‘Smoke + Mirrors’ is Milne’s first book and focuses on the misuse of technical terminology. You might not think incorrectly using terms like AI is a big deal in the grand scheme of things but you’d be wrong. Influence is everywhere and there is big money involved; “…it influences flow of funding, policy-making, voting, consumer behaviour, all sorts. Advertising agencies spend a great deal of time and money telling clients how important it is to sway people with narratives – their business makes no sense if words have no impact, right?” says Milne.
While bluster around Blockchain’s ability to ‘save the world’ didn’t make it in the book, AI did as Milne believes the area has the biggest potential to be harmful if technology terminology is misused; “There’s such a cult of entrepreneurship around [AI] and a severe lack of reality in its general coverage. There are way too many people funding words on a slide deck, far too many people having philosophical discussions around the singularity as opposed to holding those in power right now to account, and far too many people still super influenced with the sci-fi narratives which have been in popular media over the last few decades.”
Impact-wise, Milne believes it is tough to quantify and more funding is needed to wage a war on hype akin to fake news. Milne is clear in her intent; “The point of the book is to arm each and every one of us with the insight, tools and understanding of how hype works, so we can better manage what information does to us and – ultimately – create better futures for us all.” ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ is there to help you fight a future we don’t want to happen.
The result of doing nothing could be catastrophic for humanity. Milne believes that if we do nothing in 10-20 years well have a disjointed society made up of polar opposites; “…some in utopia, and many in dystopia: a society that doesn’t always move towards new things based on inherent value but perceived value.”
There is a lack of frankness in the space according to Milne – a driving force in her writing the book – “There’s still joy and excitement in realism – in fact, in my opinion, far more than in idealistic futurism.” A sentiment more people should agree with after reading ‘Smoke + Mirrors’. “I wanted to empower more people to feel able to critically think around complex topics and engage in the crucial debates happening in science and tech.”