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Supasorn Suwajanakorn speaks at TED2018. Photo: Bret Hartman/TED

Artificial intelligence is on the verge of reshaping human society. But whether that change will be for the better or worse has been the subject of much debate at this year's TED conference.

Why it matters: Even those laying out the case for a positive AI future painted a picture of society being fundamentally reshaped by the presence of significantly smarter computers. Some of the TED talks describe exciting — sometimes alarming — changes arising from this technology.

No poker face: Dolby Labs chief scientist Poppy Crum spoke in positive terms about the end of the poker face.

"I think that's a thing of the past," she said. "While that might sound scary it's not necessarily a bad thing."

Crum talked about how being able to see that which has been traditionally hidden could allow a high school counselor to sense when a student is silently struggling or could enable police to tell the difference between a person who wishes to do harm from someone having a mental health crisis.

My thought bubble: I can't help but worry about a world in which the vulnerable are unable to keep even their innermost thoughts private.

New video tech: From there, things got even more exciting (and/or terrifying depending on your perspective) as Google computer scientist Supasorn Suwajanakorn showed how current technology can be used to transform existing photos and videos to create new videos saying nearly anything.

  • Again, Suwajanakorn focused on the positive, talking about the ability for future generations to interview Holocaust victims or people to interact with grandparents who are no longer living.

But, but, but: Even if there's a good system in place to label such creations, just their existence could make it easier for people to deny real videos. And I'm skeptical that bad actors won't also get ahold of this or similar technologies to generate fakes without such warnings.

More to come: The discussion continues throughout the week, with Ray Kurzweil set to talk on Friday about whether AI will usher in the singularity.

Go deeper

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

  1. Health: Most vulnerable Americans aren't getting enough vaccine information — Fauci says Trump administration's lack of facts on COVID "very likely" cost lives.
  2. Education: Schools face an uphill battle to reopen during the pandemic.
  3. Vaccine: Florida requiring proof of residency to get vaccine — CDC extends interval between vaccine doses for exceptional cases.
  4. World: Hong Kong puts tens of thousands on lockdown as cases surge — Pfizer to supply 40 million vaccine doses to lower-income countries — Brazil begins distributing AstraZeneca vaccine.
  5. Sports: 2021 Tokyo Olympics hang in the balance.
  6. 🎧 Podcast: Carbon Health's CEO on unsticking the vaccine bottleneck.

DOJ: Capitol rioter threatened to "assassinate" Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Supporters of former President Trump storm the U.S. Captiol on Jan. 6. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A Texas man who has been charged with storming the U.S. Capitol in the deadly Jan. 6 siege posted death threats against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), the Department of Justice said.

The big picture: Garret Miller faces five charges in connection to the riot by supporters of former President Trump, including violent entry and disorderly conduct on Capitol grounds and making threats. According to court documents, Miller posted violent threats online the day of the siege, including tweeting “Assassinate AOC.”

Schumer calls for IG probe into alleged plan by Trump, DOJ lawyer to oust acting AG

Jeffrey Clark speaks next to Deputy US Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen at a news conference in October. Photo: Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) on Saturday called for the Justice Department inspector general to investigate an alleged plan by former President Trump and a DOJ lawyer to remove the acting attorney general and replace him with someone more willing to investigate unfounded claims of election fraud.

Driving the news: The New York Times first reported Friday that the lawyer, Jeffrey Clark, allegedly devised "ways to cast doubt on the election results and to bolster Mr. Trump’s continuing legal battles and the pressure on Georgia politicians. Because Mr. [Jeffrey] Rosen had refused the president’s entreaties to carry out those plans, Mr. Trump was about to decide whether to fire Mr. Rosen and replace him with Mr. Clark."