Do Not Blame Artificial Intelligence
Daniel Merege, CEO & Founder of Citytech shares his opinion on the pros and cons of Artificial Intelligence and shares his views on the benefits of AI.
Although not very new, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has gained prominence in recent years, both positive and negative. As an example, there is an idea that as machines learn to "think" as humans, they may, in the near future, take humans’ work positions that today employ millions of people around the world. But, is AI really guilty? The concept and techniques of AI are not so new, at least for computers’ age. During the 1950s, there was a great enthusiasm for scientific research that combined mathematics with computational techniques, aiming to teach machines to make decisions and to infer things from what they learned. However, in those days there was no computer processing power to perform heavy calculations, or a large amount of
available data, that could justify the adoption of these techniques
by industries and companies. Within the last five years, this scenario completely changed. We have achieved tremendous computing power to enable these heavy calculations, which are required for machines to "learn" patterns. Also, we now produce and have available a large amount of data, which serves as raw material for machines to learn. These facts sparked technology companies, such as Google and Facebook, to develop techniques and products that made AI accessible and feasible. That's why we talk a lot about it nowadays. The truth is that AI is extremely useful to make computers our allies on analysis, and the prediction of problems and solutions, simpler to more complex. With these techniques, it is possible for the computer, for example, to identify cancer by analyzing images. To perform this activity, a group of human doctors classify thousands of images, saying which is cancer and which is not cancer. Computers end up creating a mathematical model to analyze and indicate if there image includes cancer or not, in a matter of seconds. Other examples can be found in different sectors, such as urban services management, SPAM filters, and chatbots. The potential applications of AI are endless and can greatly improve the productivity and effectiveness of processes, products and services. The issue is the ethical boundaries of our relationship with machines. I take the example of the development of chemistry. With the same basic knowledge, we can produce medicines that save lives , but we can also produce chemical weapons that destroy lives. Or with the computer itself, which brings us both the marvels of the digital world as well as cyber threats and the loss of privacy. Likewise, AI’S main concern is in its application, not in the development of its techniques per se. Therefore, computational ethics here is an essential factor. We must invest in the development of the computer industry, which can bring us many advances in terms of production and quality of life, but we must determine the limit in terms of application of this knowledge. We want machines that help us detect urban problems quickly and proactively, but we do not want machines that identify a person's sexual orientation, based on his/ her facial images, or that can help malicious people act destructively and against human rights. We don’t need that. The point here is that we need to define, as a society, the values we want to extract from all these techniques. It is very important to establish global-level legislation to define ethical rules for AI applications, as we see for medical practices, for example. Regardless the track AI takes from here, we can not blame it. Decisions, after all, are always human, and it is with them that we should be concerned. And even if an application might, for example, lead to human jobs losses, we should look at what action we take now to prepare the affected workers to win new jobs that will emerge from that. Everything is a matter of evolution and improvement, and we can certainly live in a world where AI brings us comfort, well-being and quality of life. We should not blame it for the decisions that people interested in bad applications of AI will make. These decisions are exclusively human.