Lynk Insights: Artificial Fears

Over the past five years, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has seen a tremendous rise in popularity and has already been implemented across an array of industries. However, there still remains an element of fear around AI, preventing widespread adoption.

According to Kevin Pereira, Managing Director of Blu Ltd – Artificial Intelligence, widespread adoption is inevitable, simply being a matter of time. However, in his opinion, this shouldn’t stop education on the basics of AI and how it can be used in our daily lives.

“On a basic level AI is fundamentally a tool. To fear it is understandable, and is one of the biggest obstacles to change. Tools are powerful and could be dangerous. I like to think of it as like using fire. Although undoubtedly dangerous, utilized in the correct way, it can be incredibly useful.”

All signs point to an ever increasing demand for Machine Learning, with AI patents being the third most registered during  2017, at 34%. Yet, AI still has something of an image problem. After being publicly denounced by Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking, as well as a largely negative media characterization in movies such as the Terminator, there is still an element of fear mongering around the technology. In spite of this, Kevin establishes that the reality of what AI is capable of, is slightly different than we think.

“For now, AI is best at automating simple repetitive tasks. One everyday example would be to automatically arrange meetings or answer emails requiring simple responses based on user preferences, such as scheduling and priority. Although Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), which is where a machine can perform any task as well as a human, is a goal of a lot of Artificial Intelligence research, AGI is still very very far away. Therefore we should concentrate on getting the simple basics right with today’s AI first.”

Kevin details how rushing to bring in this advanced technology will undoubtedly cause more harm than good.

“In order to guarantee AI is adopted safely we need to create a secure environment for the technology to work in. This means training AI with the most accurate data possible in a framework where we can understand how AI comes to its conclusion. The better and more representative of the real world that the data is, the less likely any unanticipated problems will occur.

It is equally important to acknowledge that this process is not going to happen overnight. It takes time and mistakes will almost certainly be made. However, it is an inevitable part of the process that needs to be accepted. Rome wasn’t built in a day after all.”

Currently, AI can be used in extremely practical ways when it comes to integrating the technology into the business world. This, in turn, frees up time to spend in meetings, with clients and making sales.

But what about more complicated projects? At this point, we could see the birth of what Kevin refers to as hybrid adoption. Essentially having AI doing its job, but with a human able to take control when necessary. Take self driving cars for example. While the car would be automated in certain areas, in more hazardous terrain, the driver would take control. It’s the augmentation of humans by technology that may push forward the AI revolution we have been hearing so much about.

With AI becoming more and more of a popular topic don’t expect it to disappear any time soon. This has been shown by revenues for AI systems estimated to total US$46 billion in 2020 and spend to grow to US$57.6 billion by 2021. Yet in the eyes of Kevin, the main focus will be on how various governments choose to handle this exciting industry.

“Government intertwined regulation ensuring safe adoption of AI can be seen as the next big step on the long road towards safe AGI.”

Recent reports from the Alan Turing Institute and the UK Government appear to align with Kevin, indicating that their role is going to be extremely important in both educating, and providing safe oversight in coming years.

While the long-term effects of integrating AI is still unknown, theories have started circling that AI may finally bring with it the widespread adoption of Universal Basic Income (UBI). As explained by Kevin, this could be the best case scenario for everyone involved.

“For many, UBI is something that will never happen and an idea that simply encourages lazy human behaviour. While this may have an element of truth, I find that this often ignores a lot of advantages that UBI would bring. If AI does eventually take over the mundane tasks and jobs that people do not enjoy doing, surely UBI would put people in the position to pursue what they really enjoy doing. In my opinion it enables people to live to work rather than work to live, a position that many unfortunately find themselves in these days.”

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