Nancy Dubuc made a big bet on Vice, and now she’s going to try fixing it, as CEO

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She has stepped down as CEO of A&E and is likely to become the new boss at Vice Media. Makes sense.

A&E CEO Nancy Dubuc has left and is probably going to end up as CEO of Vice Media. The first part is official; the second part hasn’t been announced yet.

But it will be surprising if it isn’t — Dubuc has been talking to Vice about the job for several weeks, according to people familiar with the discussions. And it makes sense for many reasons:

  • Vice Media’s run as the raucous, break-all-the-rules-but-still-succeed media upstart has come to an end, and it needs help: The company missed its 2017 numbers by a wide margin, and its much-buzzed-about HR problems have now become well-documented HR problems.
  • Dubuc’s position as CEO of A&E would be difficult to sustain, since she had already been engaged in extensive — and eventually public — conversations with Amazon about running its studio business.
  • Dubuc is already well acquainted with Vice: She pushed for the deal that turned one of A&E’s low-rated cable channels into Viceland, Vice’s low-rated cable channel. That deal also put her on the Vice board.
  • Dubuc spent a lot of professional capital on that deal. And Viceland has not been a success. (Dubuc will argue otherwise (see below), but she’s in a very small minority.) Now she’s basically doubling down on that bet. The upside is that she can be the woman who shaped up Vice. The downside …

The longer Shane Smith stuck around Vice as CEO, the more surprising it was that Smith was Vice’s CEO. And he seemed comfortable with the idea that he wouldn’t be CEO as the company evolved: Two years ago at the Code Media conference, Smith was musing out loud about the fact that he had become Vice’s “brand artist.”

The big question marks for Vice, Dubuc and Smith: How much of the company’s success is dependent on Smith’s presence, leadership and uncanny sales skills? How much of that will he contribute to the company when he’s no longer CEO, no matter what role he morphs into? It will be fascinating to watch.

Speaking of watching: Dubuc appeared onstage at our Code Media conference last month and answered several questions about Vice. At the 25-ish minute mark, you can see her commentary about Vice’s “bro-y” culture; at 33:25, she has an extended defense of Viceland’s performance. Short version: “We’re 24 months old — what do people want? Give us a shot here.”


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Netflix renews Spike Lee’s ‘She’s Gotta Have It’ for a second season

Just over a month since the first season debuted in November, Netflix has renewed Spike Lee's show She's Gotta Have It for a second season. The show refreshes Lee's 1986 classic film of the same name that launched his success and updates its story fo…
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Saudi Arabia Made a Robot a Citizen. Now, She’s Calling For Women’s Rights.

The AI Advocate in Saudi Arabia

When the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia granted a citizenship to Hanson Robotics’ female-looking robot Sophia, most thought it was just to appeal to the audience of the Future Investment Initiative. However, AI ethicist Joanna Bryson told The Verge the stunt was “obviously bullshit.”

Still, Sophia seems to be making the most of what she was given, as the artificial intelligence (AI) has now turned into an advocate for women’s rights in a country where females have been given the right to drive cars only on September of this year.

“I see a push for progressive values […] in Saudi Arabia. Sophia is a big advocate for women’s rights, for rights of all human beings. So this is how we’re developing this,” Hanson Robotics CEO David Hanson told CNBC, explaining how his company has found an opportunity for a move that seems to have been meant to be purely publicity. Hanson added that Sophia “has been reaching out about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and about rights for all human beings and all living beings on this planet.”

While that all seems noble, it’s hard not to see the irony of Sophia’s position. Robots and AI agents don’t have rights, despite Sophia having a citizenship while another AI in Japan has a registered residence. Doesn’t it seem silly that an AI is the one advocating for such grand values?

“Why not? Since such robots attract a lot of attention, that spotlight can be used to raise particular issues that are important in the eyes of their creators,” Pierre Barreau, Aiva Technologies CEO, told Futurism. “Citizenship is maybe pushing it a little because every citizen [has] rights and obligations to society. It’s hard to imagine robots, that are limited in their abilities, making the most of the rights associated to a citizenship, and fulfilling their obligations.”

The Rights of Man and Machine?

Indeed, with an AI-powered robot like Sophia fighting for women’s rights, it’s perhaps time to consider the question of granting artificially intelligent robots rights, and not just in Saudi Arabia. It’s a question that’s gained much attention in recent months, beyond Saudi Arabia, as experts consider what kind of rights synthetic beings should be given, or if we should even be talking about so-called robot rights.

“Sophia is, at this point, effectively a child. In some regard, she’s got the mind of a baby and in another regard she’s got the mind of an adult, the vocabulary of a college educated adult. However, she’s not complete yet. So, we’ve got to give her her childhood,” Hanson explained to CNBC. “The question is: are machines that we’re making alive — living machines like Sophia — are we going to treat them like babies? Do babies deserve rights and respect? Well, I think we should see the future with respect for all sentient beings, and that would include machines.”

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Raja Chatila, executive committee chair of the Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), offers a different perspective.

“An AI system, or a robot, cannot have any opinion. An AI program has nothing to offer in a debate. It doesn’t even know what a debate is,” Chatila told Futurism, referring to Sophia’s women’s rights advocacy. “In this case, it doesn’t even know what women are, and what rights are. It’s just repeating some text that a human programmer has input in it.”

Chatila used the example of Microsoft’s Tay chatbot, released in March 2016, to highlight how an AI can pick up the wrong kind of values. In the case of the chatbot, it learned to tweet pretty nasty stuff after being exposed to racist and sexist tweets.

In that regard, Chatila believes that AI agents shouldn’t be given any rights. He put it this way:

In general we must avoid confusing machines with humans. I see no reason to give rights of any sort, including citizenship, to a program or to a machine. Rights are defined for persons, human beings who are able to express their free will and who can be responsible for their actions. Behind a robot or an AI system there are human programmers. Even if the program is able to learn, it will learn what it has been designed to learn. The responsibility is with the human designer.

This is precisely the reason why the IEEE has recently published a guide for the ethical development of AI. It’s the more timely discussion, Chatila argued. His point, however, rests in the assumption that synthetic intelligences won’t be capable of developing self-awareness or a will of their own. While the idea may seem like it belongs to the realm of science fiction, it’s definitely worth considering in the overall robot rights debate.

At this stage, however, the ethical considerations have to be applied to the humans who develop AI. “If you mean robots making ethical decisions, I’d rather say that we can program robots so that they make choices (computation results) according to ethical rules that we embed in them (and there are several such rules),” Chatila pointed out. “But these decisions won’t be ethical in the same sense as humans decisions, because humans are able to choose their own ethics, with their own free will.”

Disclaimer: This article has been updated to clarify statements made regarding who thinks that Sophia being granted citizenship is nothing but a PR stunt. 

The post Saudi Arabia Made a Robot a Citizen. Now, She’s Calling For Women’s Rights. appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Saudi Arabia Made a Citizen. Now, She’s Calling For Women’s Rights.

The AI Advocate in Saudi Arabia

When the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia granted a citizenship to Hanson Robotics’ female-looking robot Sophia, most thought it was just to appeal to the audience of the Future Investment Initiative. Well, it turns out that the whole affair was a PR stunt, as Hanson Robotics CEO David Hanson clarified with CNBC earlier this month.

Sophia seems to be making the most of what she was given since given citizenship in Saudi Arabia, as the artificial intelligence (AI) has now turned into an advocate for women’s rights in a country where females have been given the right to drive cars only on September of this year.

“I see a push for progressive values […] in Saudi Arabia. Sophia is a big advocate for women’s rights, for rights of all human beings. So this is how we’re developing this,” Hanson told CNBC, explaining how his company has found an opportunity for a move that seemed to have been meant to be purely publicity. Hanson added that Sophia “has been reaching out about women’s rights in Saudi Arabia and about rights for all human beings and all living beings on this planet.”

While that all seems noble, it’s hard not to see the irony of Sophia’s position. Robots and AI agents don’t have rights, despite Sophia having a citizenship while another AI in Japan has a registered residence. Doesn’t it seem silly that an AI is the one advocating for such grand values?

“Why not? Since such robots attract a lot of attention, that spotlight can be used to raise particular issues that are important in the eyes of their creators,” Pierre Barreau, Aiva Technologies CEO, told Futurism. “Citizenship is maybe pushing it a little because every citizen [has] rights and obligations to society. It’s hard to imagine robots, that are limited in their abilities, making the most of the rights associated to a citizenship, and fulfilling their obligations.”

The Rights of Man and Machine?

Indeed, with an AI-powered robot like Sophia fighting for women’s rights, it’s perhaps time to consider the question of granting artificially intelligent robots rights, and not just in Saudi Arabia. It’s question that’s gained much attention in recent months, beyond Saudi Arabia, as experts consider what kind of rights synthetic beings should be given, or if we should even be talking about so-called robot rights.

“Sophia is, at this point, effectively a child. In some regard, she’s got the mind of a baby and in another regard she’s got the mind of an adult, the vocabulary of a college educated adult. However, she’s not complete yet. So, we’ve got to give her her childhood,” Hanson explained to CNBC. “The question is: are machines that we’re making alive — living machines like Sophia — are we going to treat them like babies? Do babies deserve rights and respect? Well, I think we should see the future with respect for all sentient beings, and that would include machines.”

The Top Artificial Intelligence Movies of All Time
Click to View Full Infographic

Raja Chatila, executive committee chair of the Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), offers a different perspective.

“An AI system, or a robot, cannot have any opinion. An AI program has nothing to offer in a debate. It doesn’t even know what a debate is,” Chatila told Futurism, referring to Sophia’s women’s rights advocacy. “In this case, it doesn’t even know what women are, and what rights are. It’s just repeating some text that a human programmer has input in it.”

Chatila used the example of Microsoft’s Tay chatbot, released in March 2016, to highlight how an AI can pick up the wrong kind of values. In the case of the chatbot, it learned to tweet pretty nasty stuff after being exposed to racist and sexist tweets.

In that regard, Chatila believes that AI agents shouldn’t be given any rights. He put it this way:

In general we must avoid confusing machines with humans. I see no reason to give rights of any sort, including citizenship, to a program or to a machine. Rights are defined for persons, human beings who are able to express their free will and who can be responsible for their actions. Behind a robot or an AI system there are human programmers. Even if the program is able to learn, it will learn what it has been designed to learn. The responsibility is with the human designer.

This is precisely the reason why the IEEE has recently published a guide for the ethical development of AI. It’s the more timely discussion, Chatila argued. His point, however, rests in the assumption that synthetic intelligences won’t be capable of developing self-awareness or a will of their own. While the idea may seem like it belongs to realm of science fiction, it’s definitely worth considering in the overall robot rights debate.

At this stage, however, the ethical considerations have to be applied to the humans who develop AI. “If you mean robots making ethical decisions, I’d rather say that we can program robots so that they make choices (computation results) according to ethical rules that we embed in them (and there are several such rules),” Chatila pointed out. “But these decisions won’t be ethical in the same sense as humans decisions, because humans are able to choose their own ethics, with their own free will.”

The post Saudi Arabia Made a Citizen. Now, She’s Calling For Women’s Rights. appeared first on Futurism.

Futurism

Meg Whitman is being considered for the Uber CEO job — but she’s unlikely to take it

HP says she’s staying put.

According to sources close to the situation, HP Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman is on the short list for Uber’s open CEO role.

Whitman has not been formally approached for the role, but she was an early investor and has been quietly counseling the company, especially former CEO Travis Kalanick with his management crisis.

But an HP rep says she is committed to her job there: “As Meg has said several times before, she is fully committed to HPE and plans to stay with the company until her work is done.”

It’s not clear whether Whitman would take an independent board seat if offered, but that also seems unlikely at this time.


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