Most of us who have been born in the 80’s and grown up in the post cold war world consider it to be a myth. Something that Miss Universe contestants talk about. Or a left-wing dream of the political minority. Definitely not something that could be achieved.
On the other hand, the same generation has been struck by the fact that world peace is not an ever increasing thing by default. History has changed direction drastically in the past ten years, and world peace is becoming a thing that raises interest again.
But is there something that we can actually do to get there?
No doubt building peace is a hugely difficult task. There are no simple solutions in a complex world. When we mix national feelings, egos of politicians, natural resources, and thousands of years of history, there are no quick fixes to get it all solved.
But for peace even the smallest things can have a meaningful impact. Maybe we should be looking for the big solution anyways. Maybe it would make more sense to look for solutions that are imperfect, but take us to the right direction. One small step at a time can take us a long way.
Another rising topic in the world is AI, artificial intelligence. Machines that take a curious look to the world they see and try to understand it. Yes, it’s all electric signals and complex rules under the hood, but then again, so are humans.
If the machines don’t really match humans (yet) in the intelligence they can still be useful tools already. Where humans strive in seeing the big picture and making connections between seemingly unrelated things, machines are effective in analysis and prediction of different scenarios. This is why humans and machines together can achieve things that would be out of reach otherwise.
We shouldn’t be looking at the machines neither as a threat nor a savior. We should be seeing them as companions. We teach them, we talk to them, and they answer us back. They fill in the gaps that we can’t.
But in the end, it won’t be the machines that change the world. But it will be humans. It is up to us how we react to the information that the machines can gather from the vast masses of data in the world.
The Peace Machine
Combining the two hot topics is exactly what professor Timo Honkela has done. In his book Rauhankone (engl Peace Machine, Gaudeamus, 2017) he describes how machine learning could be utilized to improve human communications.
Honkela has spent his whole professional career to understanding human language and machine learning. He believes that machines could be used to help us understand each other better.
In his book, Honkela describes three concepts.
- Meaning negotiating machine recognises when people are talking with same words but actually mean different things. The machine could direct the discussion and add content to help the counterparts to find the common ground.
- Sentiment analysis is a field of machine learning concentrating in recognising human emotions. The machines could aid us to understand our own feelings and see the emotions of others better, and therefore increase empathy among people.
- A million people meeting is a data mining machine that allows millions (or billions) of people to discuss an issue simultaneously. It would gather the arguments and find possible solutions based on the collective knowledge of people rather than the ideas of few.
The book is a beginning. A start of a journey that needs to be traveled to see how the Peace Machine actually works. And that what Futurice is doing right now. Taking the first baby steps in connecting machine learning and peace machine. Trying to understand better where we should be heading.