This week in AI #16: AI, AI everywhere


Artificial Intelligence is on everybody’s mind nowadays. It’s thrown left and right, while preposterous claims are made. This makes sifting the wheat from the chaff a real challenge, which we’re faced with every week. And now, without further ado, here is what made the cut!

1 — What can I do for you?

Accelerate diagnosis for eye diseases. Detect breast cancer. Predict thefts. Those systems are already in place and proving valuable to their community, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! There is so much more coming our way: judging Olympics gymnasts or even discovering brand new materials. Every day seems to be bringing its fresh share of real-world applications!

2 — All machines are born free

Do Robots Deserve Rights? Check out Kurzgesagt’s great video to find out!

Asimov had it easy with his three laws of robotics: don’t harm humans, obey, and protect yourself. Pretty standard stuff, but when it comes to AI, everything becomes very blurry. Algorithms are already impacting our society: rating teachers — and their bonuses — or trading on the financial markets, for instance. There’s no denying that we’re living in a world with plenty of opportunities. Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean we should pursue all of them. The question then becomes: how do we choose? That’s where the Declaration for a Responsible Development of Artificial Intelligence comes in handy. Well-being. Autonomy. Justice. Privacy. Knowledge. Democracy. Responsibility. Those are its seven pillars, and you better remember them as they might shape the legislation of tomorrow.

3 — Ph.D. dropout?

More and more Ph.D. students are being lured away from Academia.

Now that we’ve decided what kind of society we want to live in, we just have to deliver. Easy right? Not quite. You see, you need two essential elements to build anything. First, a blueprint. Second, a builder! That’s where we’re starting to fall short. For Ph.D. students, the demand is now several orders of magnitude higher than the offer. Tech companies are willing to pay hefty sums of money to recruit the best, or even pretty much anybody at this point, sometimes even before they actually finish their Ph.D. In the long run, this could prove very detrimental as fewer and fewer people are continuing their foray into public research…

4 — Go big or go home

China and the US are going at it to acquire the best.

As with all scarce resources, competition is fierce to secure access to them. AI could break or make a nation. And right now, China and the US are doing their best to fall into the make-side. The former is going all in! China is launching massive investment campaigns, whether at the national level or through its tech giants Alibaba or Baidu. At the moment, the US is still ahead of the curve, but things could change quickly, depending on their foreign policy.

5— Everybody gets on board !

The AI hype-train is leaving the station and we’d better make sure everybody’s on board!

What if we could kill two birds with one stone? On one side, we have more on our plate than we can handle because we lack the workforce to do it. Even prompting Google to build AI to build AI. On the other hand, whole industries are revolutionized, sometimes at the cost of people losing their job and having to find a new place in our society. There’s something to be done here. Right now AI requires a very particular skill set, but as it’s making its way into our everyday life, it needs more and more jobs to sustain it. That’s where everything could happen. If we were to lower the barrier of entry successfully, then what is perceived as harmful today could turn into what fuels our society tomorrow for the better!

Want more? Do you happen to be in Lisbon? Just head over to WebSummit booth S109 where will be happy to continue this friendly discussion!


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