Robert Downey Jr hosts a YouTube documentary to explain the complex world of AI

YouTube Originals has created The Age of AI; a series to help explore and explain the potential behind artificial intelligence. Is this an educational tool, or an expensive Google PR campaign?
The Age of AI YouTube series
The Age of AI series is exclusive to YouTube. Image: YouTube

Iron man presents

Robert Downey Jr is the perfect host for the AI series. Most loved for his role in the Marvel movies as Ironman, he humanises science in a relatable way.

Downey Jr isn’t just the voice over and the pretty face in the intro. Team Downey is part of the production team along with Network Entertainment. Downey and his wife Susan are both Executive Producers, along with Will.i.am as a Consulting Producer.

Robert Downey Jr is probably best known for playing Ironman. Image: Avengers Endgame via Marvel Studios

The Age of AI

The series premiered on 18th December and is exclusive to YouTube. There are eight episodes in all, each exploring a different topic. YouTube Premiere subscribers can watch the first four episodes straight away, and for everybody else, they will be released one at a time.

The Age of AI seeks to explain how artificial intelligence is reshaping our world.

Episode one is titled ‘How Far is Too Far?’. Downey Jr interviews Mark Sagar, special effects expert and CEO of Soul Machines. Sagar works to teach an AI ‘baby’ called Baby X, and see how the AI learns, forms emotional responses and mimics human traits such as empathy.

The episode is definitely leaning towards the positives of AI, and I think does a really good job of explaining the complexities and potential of artificial intelligence in an understandable way.

Episode two ‘Healed Through AI’ looks at Project Euphonia and shows how AI is improving the quality of life for Tim Shaw. Shaw is a former NFL linebacker who has a condition called ALS which affects his ability to move and speak. Euphonia uses AI to interpret and understand his speech.

Is this a PR campaign?

YouTube, of course, is owned by Google. We reported recently about how Google is moving into the healthcare world. There are concerns about data capture including health information, and how Google may use this.

Since Google is so heavily invested in AI, there is a temptation to be cynical about this series. Is it just a PR exercise to convince everybody that AI is the future, and thus pave the way for investment and consumer trust in new AI products?

Actually, no, I don’t think so. I watched the first two episodes and found these really interesting and informative.

It can’t help but be biased, but there is consideration given to how AI needs to be controlled.

Watching AI help a former professional sportsman with a life-limiting medical condition is powerful stuff. This is AI at it’s finest; enhancing the quality of human life in ways we could not have imagined a few years ago.

We all know that AI has the potential to be dangerous as well as useful. However, it is the way WE use it that will determine this, and not the power of AI itself. As Episode one demonstrates, artificial intelligence understands only what we choose to teach it.

Have you watched The Age of AI? What did you make of it? 

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