What AI is Not
According to a recent survey, 43 percent of respondents in the U.S. and 46 percent of respondents in the UK answered that they have no idea what AI is about1. Of those who answered that they did have some idea of the definition of AI, according to Craig Martell’s lecture, they are likely incorrect. There is a pervasiveness in everyday conversation around the use and promise of AI. The approach is equated to human cognition with the potential to change every facet of our life, to make daily processes easier and to eventually replace the need for the human workforce.
Like most concepts that take over the collective consciousness of groups who likely do not have the foundational knowledge to understand the underlying components, the implications of AI are both anticipated as well as feared. The confusion is justified. When paired with “artificial”, the word, “intelligence” can create all manner of expectations fit for a sci-fi film. The definition of the word, “intelligence”, however, is diluted when referred to in this way. Pattern recognition based on repeated tasks and labeling yields to enhanced determination and prediction of an object category. This does not lead to the capability of broader inferential conclusions nor does it mean that the system is “learning” beyond the best algorithm on which the pattern recognition is based.
The conflation of terms like artificial intelligence, machine learning and neural networks, however, has spawned an industry that markets these capabilities to sell into companies and industries where knowledge of these concepts is lacking. At the same time, salaries for top AI researchers have skyrocketed because there are not many people who understand the technology and thousands of companies want to work with it2. They hype is a disservice to the field. Progress requires patience and the promise of the technology has been made so hyperbolic that there is an expectation of eminent and transformative results. The education that individuals like Craig Martell are providing is necessary. There needs to be a campaign to correct the misinformation, set expectations and buckle down for the long road ahead.
- Renee Buest, Artificial Intelligence is Not a Threat to Human Society, IDG Contributor Network, Feb 2018.
- Cade Metz, I. Researchers Are Making More Than $1 Million, Even at a Nonprofit, NY Times, Apr 2018.
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