What good is technology if it doesn't take care of well being of humans. In the field of technology & research, bodies like IEEE and some NPOs have ensured, from time to time, that an "ethics" framework is in place before there is mass adoption of any technology. Neural networks, machine learning, computer vision & natural language processing based products existed even before the times of commoditizing of Artificial Intelligence (AI). However, the breathtaking landscape of AI is solving multiple problems, yet the corporate world has pushed the envelop too far. The idea of putting this article out is to make leaders and industry veterans enforce and ensure that their teams are abiding by the ethics framework for building Artificial Intelligence based products/solutions.
Probably you are already aware of the fact that artificial intelligence and machine learning are all around us, from phones to devices and a huge number of things in between. But do you know what is the core technology that enables these devices to perform effectively? Have you ever come across situations like you're typing something on your smartphone and it is coming up with word suggestions based on what you're currently typing and what you usually type? Surely you did and that's a natural language processing system in action. We surely overlook the technology and take it for granted but in the business domain, it is one of the biggest innovations that have transformed the entire domain.
Technologists and privacy advocates have been warning about – and campaining against – the prevailing, arguably exponentially growing, tendency of state-aided and private companies to mine, gather, repackage, and monetize user data. Probably the biggest story of the week, a saga that has occupied the headlines of media outlets worldwide – the undercover Cambridge Analytica report caught on camera by Channel 4's investigative reporters – shed light on the power and dangers of social media. Rather, the report has shed light on how easy it is to propagandize and subvert entire populations. Allowing tremendous, unprecedented reach, social networks have, since their inception, been considered a precious tool of the marketing industry. Where is the line between marketing and propaganda, real and fake news drawn?
This article was originally published in the Summer 2019 issue of The Record. Subscribe for FREE here to get the next issue delivered directly to your inbox. Imagine no longer having to browse endless TV channels in a bid to find what you want to watch. How amazing would it be if your content provider knew you so well that it created dynamic TV channels especially for you, based on what it's learnt from your tastes and preferences? Thanks to the rise of artificial intelligence (AI), this scenario is now entirely possible.
Get ready to say: "Hey Google. How much do I have in my bank account?" NatWest is to begin voice-only banking that will give customers direct access to their accounts by talking to the Google Home smart speakers now in millions of British homes. The trial – the first by a UK high street bank – will let customers ask Google "What's my balance?", "What's my latest transactions?" Google devices will answer verbally, and also flash the answers up on the customer's smartphone.
Many industries will be disrupted by Artificial Intelligence and executives need to be prepared in order to lead and compete in a digital world. While the cutting-edge technologies in this field can be found in academia and in major tech companies such as Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix and Google, there is a great opportunity to help executives from non-tech companies become more informed and ready to take action on AI and redesign their go-to market strategy. AI is a field of computer science that started in the 1950s and is defined as any machine or system capable of performing cognitive functions that would typically require human intelligence such as perception, reasoning, learning, creativity and problem solving. Among several approaches to build AI systems, the most relevant recent achievements have been accomplished applying Machine Learning algorithms to large datasets. What separates Machine Learning from other techniques is the fact that they learn how to make predictions and prescription from observing data.
Amazon enhanced Polly - the cloud-based text-to-speech service - to deliver natural and realistic speech synthesis. The service can now be leveraged to present domain-specific style such as newscast and sportscast. Though text-to-speech existed for more than two decades, it is never used in mainstream media due to the lack of natural and realistic modulation. Except for automated announcements that read out from existing datastores, the technology never replaced human voice and speech. Thanks to the advancements in AI, text-to-speech has evolved to become more natural and realistic to an extent that it may be hard to distinguish it from a human voice.
The business world is sharply focused on AI and ready to spend generously on what it might offer. In a recent PwC survey of 1,000 business executives, 20% of respondents said that "their organizations plan to implement AI enterprise-wide in 2019." According to the 2019 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey, AI/automation use is up as a board priority by 17%. On top of that, the survey also revealed that over one-third of IT leaders worldwide believe that 20% or more of their workforce will be automated in the next five years. The AI and automation march forward is a growing and global one driven by two powerful stimuli: fear and ambition.
In Padang, West Sumatra, San Francisco-based non-profit organisation Rainforest Connection is mounting used cellphones on trees to detect sounds that originate from chainsaws or trucks belonging to illegal loggers. Rangers, villagers and law enforcement agencies are then alerted to the illegal activities and can take action. In Singapore, DBS Bank is predicting when employees will quit, so management can intervene and retain staff. In Taipei, Taiwan's performing arts centre National Theatre and Concert Hall is using technology to provide automatic sub-titling so that people with hearing disabilities can also enjoy performances. What unites the three cities in their cutting-edge exploits is a new frontier technology known as artificial intelligence (AI).
The field of AI (artificial intelligence), to those on the outside, must appear to be an orderly gathering of intellectuals collaborating at the cutting edge of technology. The reality is a bit different. Last year, Elon Musk made headlines by describing AI as a "fundamental risk to the existence of civilization." More recently, Google CEO Eric Schmidt suggested that the answer to fears about AI was to police it and offered the example of finding a way to police the misuse of the telephone because of its possible misuse by some individuals with bad intentions rather than not inventing the phone at all. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding AI is that most individuals think that humanity is close to it, although in fact the reality is quite different.