Artificial intelligence should be open. We should make that abundantly clear, because it isn’t.
The common misconceptions around artificial intelligence (AI) are that we should be afraid, that we need to have a clear understanding of it, that we should study it, and that we should avoid it. These myths don’t serve us well.
In my view, we should all be afraid of AI because it hasn’t figured out how to fully keep our data private. In fact, it seems to always want access to our data. But before we worry about it, let’s look at what AI really is.
AI is what computers do when they make logical decisions, or those decisions that we don’t expect a computer to make. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter if a computer can tell you who you should take out on a date or that an ocean is blue or what. What does matter is what AI can do for us. Here are some potential applications of AI in the next 10 years:
- Programming is good, but the best AI programmers are pretty damn good too. AI should be used as part of the programming process; the better a programmer becomes at using AI as part of his or her coding, the more AI can do for us. AI should be a software engineer’s job.
- AI can come up with more creative marketing strategies than you. You’ve heard of the Pepsi Challenge, which recently debuted. Pepsi is trying to come up with ways to challenge AI to come up with a new ad campaign. The latest Pepsi Challenge is entitled, “Create Your Own Challenge.” The company gave AI a budget of $10,000, a deadline of 30 days, and asked it to come up with a new commercial for the Diet Pepsi. Now, the Pepsi Challenge isn’t the most creative ad, but a decade ago, we would have seen the Pepsi Challenge as an example of how to make advertising more creative. Today, we see it as how companies want to do market research through AI.
- AI can be used to improve health care. AI will be in the business of delivering pharmaceuticals.
- AI can deliver entertainment. Netflix was an early example of AI delivering entertainment for subscribers. Netflix then started delivering movies to subscribers through a self-produced streaming service, via the On Demand TV channels and Internet streaming sites. Netflix was only the second company to offer a self-produced, online stream of movie content. Now, there are Netflix clone sites, such as Disconnect.tv, and even self-produced, streaming sites, such as Tubi TV and Crackle.
- AI can make you better looking. The Wall Street Journal reported that in 2012, Venus and Prosenix, two 3-D facial analysis systems, turned 80,000 photos of U.S. faces into a database. The goal was to create a model that could accurately match faces. (Google, naturally, isn’t satisfied with Google Images as a facial matching solution, and is developing its own system.)
- AI can help with medicine. IBM announced earlier this month that it has created the first AI system capable of diagnosing cancer in skin biopsies. The system, dubbed Watson, will be used in major cancer research centers, for example at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City.
- AI can help with data analysis. A big reason why the economy recovered so well was that the government was able to provide tax refunds to taxpayers. The improved economics of the government’s stimulus bill also led to more hiring and investments, which led to economic growth. Just as happened in 2008, and in 2008, I believe that we will see companies hire for artificial intelligence.
- AI can make us smarter. Several industries are already using AI to come up with predictions about consumer behavior and to look for anomalies in sales and other business data. It’s not that prediction and data analysis were not important before, it’s that we have seen the impact of AI. If AI is good at something, everyone else will want to do it as well, because they will realize that AI’s capabilities are growing.
- AI can give us better information about who we are, what we do and why we do it. It is very hard for humans to gain a level of understanding about the mental processes that a person goes through. Even though there are a great deal of experts in psychology, there is no perfect way to understand a person’s thoughts and feelings.
- AI can help us in the home and the office. IBM Watson will be used in a study to understand the language of babies. (The study is being conducted in collaboration with Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Georgia Institute of Technology.) Expect to see more advances in voice recognition and conversational computers. We can also expect to see more widespread use of Amazon’s Alexa and other conversational personal assistants.
- AI can make business sense of the data. IBM Watson and Microsoft’s Cortana can be used to make sense of data and to answer questions or give information to a business.
So, is the future of AI bleak? Is it going to disrupt us? No. The same goes for each new technology. The same goes for each new technology that has been around for 20 years or more. It’s all about perspective.
There is no consensus that artificial intelligence will destroy jobs. However, there is a consensus that it will change how we do work in the future. It’s inevitable. Who is right? I have no idea.
Artificial intelligence can help us with a wide variety of tasks and will improve our lives, if we let it. As with all new technologies, we should evaluate the possibilities, but not limit ourselves.
Do you use artificial intelligence now, or has it been available to you for many years? Is AI a boon to humanity or is it a dark spot on the horizon? Please share your thoughts.