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RE: The Rise and Fall of Siraj Raval

in #ailast year

What an interesting story. Thanks for that and the well researched links. I think success tempts you to get high flights. Without me having read any more details, this is a first guess, based on how you describe the situation and person. Perhaps also an act of self-sabotage, which interestingly enough is often to be found in us humans, even if we enjoy the success outwardly.

AI doesn't seem to me to be such a niche topic at all, because it is discussed from many sides, not only among the coders and programmers, but also the psychological and philosophical aspects, just as the social aspects seem to play an ever greater role here. This is what I found recently:

Bye to Austria!


Thanks for stopping by :)

It might be him doing an act of self-sabotage, because, as I wrote, he should have known, that he will get caught. At the same time it might also be, that he already got away with a lot of things, that were borderline plagiarism (and was quite successful in doing so) and might thought that he will get away with this as well.
He released one video since I wrote this, which was very strange: instead of doing an honest apology video he put the apology inside another video about using AI for healthcare in Africa, pandering for sympathy. Or as the current top comment on the video put it:

Look at poor children in Africa. And BTW I am sorry I used copy and paste. Look at poor children again. - is it South Park?

People were generally not really happy about this, because he tried to weasel out, instead of coming clean.

About AI in general: a lot of people are talking about it, but unfortunately very few people actually understand what it is about (the DFKI does know, what they are talking about). Having a background in computer science and philosophy, I am luckily in a position where I can take a look at it from multiple angles. Unfortunately a lot of talk about AI is rather unqualified, especially when it a.) comes from politicians or b.) is just pure marketing speech.
Siraj tried to change it, but in the process he kind of became a victim of his success and turned into a marketing shill himself. However, I still highly appreciate what he tried to do: educating the masses about AI.

Greetings to Germany :)

Thanks for the feedback. I hear that you did not leave once and for all, so I might stop by once in a while :) I myself do not blog right now. But that means nothing. Just busy with other things.

While I think that what you say is true, that in general the knowledge of artificial intelligence is rather unprofessional, I think that on the whole people who live in highly engineered modern societies have an idea of it. In fact, AI's replace human work and one might wonder to what extent this will affect us humans in the future. A legitimate question, since AI technology is already in use to a large extent and will continue to be so. One may accuse the masses of a certain wisdom, because even if they cannot adequately cite the explanatory models for this in detail, they can nevertheless anticipate and foresee the effects. Despite marketing, exaggerated or false promises, people are quite capable of structuring their own situation and world view and of imagining effects on their own lives. What is verbally expressed in headlines, praise or condemnation, one can, if one wants, bring into a moderate form for oneself and only draw the essence from it: That modern man is not clueless. Even the way of perhaps clumsy and technically incorrect communication does not obscure it.

Siraj Raval will have to live with the fact that he has now ruined his reputation and has to bear the legal consequences of the plagiarism; on the other hand, I hear he will reap some gratitude for the educational work he has done. Both will play a greater or lesser role in his life. Depending on what he still has to learn. Some people need strong reactions in order to believe that what they have appropriated is indeed illegitimate. This may be because they separate state & law from themselves and do not accept the laws of a country or in the world. Especially in the field of copyright there are more and more discussions since the internet about who should claim where and what a copyright should be on and this discussion sometimes - I think erroneously - results in a kind of slackening of who claims to what intellectual property. Recently I followed a discussion about a photography plagiarism, where an artist simply pulled a picture out of the net and then changed it and presented it as her own work of art. In fact, the views on this were divided, although the law makes clear statements about it. I have the impression that the Internet has contributed greatly to softening the boundaries between property and public good. Whatever it's good for, it's never black or white.

Those who are professional, like you, can give their expertise and, if they are able to translate professional language into general language, make their contribution to educational work. It's also a compliment to Raval that you've given and if it weren't for his infringement, he really seems to have a talent for explaining things that are difficult to explain.

I will stick around, although right now I'm also very busy with a lot of things: work, studying and last weekend I moved :)

The problem with what is communicated about AI (especially in headlines) is, that it is mostly done by people who know to get the readers' attention, but do not necessarily have a good technical understanding of how AI works and what are its limits. I can't blame them for that, it is a rather complex subject, but I can blame them for building a lot of hype. Automation is nothing new, its happening since centuries, but so far mostly manual labor was automated, with AI also typical white collar jobs will be automated and I think this is what scares people, especially those working in white collar jobs.

There will be no legal ramifications for Siraj. What he did was morally wrong, but as far as I know, he didn't break the law (i.e. he didn't plagiarise to get a degree). The negative effect it had on his personal brand, which he built for over three years are more than enough punishment. About copyright: I think that "softening the boundaries between property and public good" is actually great for scientific and educational materials, loosening the copyright restrictions on this kind of content is great for disseminating it and it's good to not have additional restrictions, which hinder getting it into the hands of many people.

Those who are professional, like you, can give their expertise and, if they are able to translate professional language into general language, make their contribution to educational work.

I try my best to do so, but it is again something that takes a lot of time, which is unfortunately a very scarse resource for me.