If you are looking for an answer to the question What is Artificial Intelligence? and you only have a minute, then here's the definition the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence offers on its home page: "the scientific understanding of the mechanisms underlying thought and intelligent behavior and their embodiment in machines."
However, if you are fortunate enough to have more than a minute, then please get ready to embark upon an exciting journey exploring AI (but beware, it could last a lifetime) …
A country's AI prowess has major implications for how its citizens live and work -- and its economic and military strength moving into the future. With so much at stake, the narrative of an AI "arms race" between the US and China has been brewing for years. Dramatic headlines suggest that China is poised to take the lead in AI research and use, due to its national plan for AI domination and the billions of dollars the government has invested in the field, compared with the US' focus on private-sector development. But the reality is that at least until the past year or so, the two nations have been largely interdependent when it comes to this technology. It's an area that has drawn attention and investment from major tech heavy hitters on both sides of the Pacific, including Apple, Google and Facebook in the US and SenseTime, Megvii and YITU Technology in China. Generation China is a CNET series that looks at the areas of technology where the country is looking to take a leadership position.
In March, as her friends and neighbors were scrambling to pack up and leave campus due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Geeticka Chauhan found her world upended in yet another way. Just weeks earlier, she had been elected council president of MIT's largest graduate residence, Sidney-Pacific. Suddenly the fourth-year PhD student was plunged into rounds of emergency meetings with MIT administrators. From her apartment in Sidney-Pacific, where she has stayed put due to travel restrictions in her home country of India, Chauhan is still learning the ropes of her new position. With others, she has been busy preparing to meet the future challenge of safely redensifying the living space of more than 1,000 people: how to regulate high-density common areas, handle noise complaints as people spend more time in their rooms, and care for the mental and physical well-being of a community that can only congregate virtually.
Chief Technology Officer at Integrity Management Services, Inc., where she is leading cutting edge technology solutions (AI) for clients. In his book Talking with Strangers, Malcolm Gladwell discusses an AI experiment that looked at 554,689 bail hearings conducted by New York City judges. As one online publication noted, "Of the more than 400,000 people released, over 40% either failed to appear at their subsequent trials or were arrested for another crime." However, decisions recommended by the machine learning algorithm on whom to detain or release would have resulted in 25% fewer crimes. This is an example of an AI system that is less biased than a human.
As the coronavirus has swept across the globe, the swathes of redundancies that have followed in its wake have relegated the "robots are taking our jobs" narrative into the background. It was a narrative with a somewhat mixed logic at the best of times. For instance, research from the London School of Economics (LSE) found that the introduction of industrial robots has actually increased wages for employees while also increasing the number of job opportunities for highly skilled people. The researchers conducted a comprehensive analysis of the economic impact of industrial robots over 17 countries between 1993 and 2007 across 14 different industries. The period of analysis corresponded with a huge rise in the use of industrial robots, with the price of such machinery also falling by approximately 80%.
Law enforcement has used surveillance technology to monitor participants of the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, as it has with many other protests in US history. License plate readers, facial recognition, and wireless text message interception are just some of the tools at its disposal. While none of this is new, the exposure that domestic surveillance is getting in this moment is further exposing a great fallacy among policymakers. All too often, there is a tendency among the policy community, particularly for those whose work involves national security, to discuss democratic tech regulation purely in terms of geopolitical competition. There are arguments that regulating big tech is vital to national security.
The world is in trouble and not just because of COVID-19. Hype and fraud fascinates her and Artificial Intelligence is one of those areas rife in both. Milne is on a mission to get everyone talking about it...properly. 'Smoke Mirrors' is Milne's first book and focuses on the misuse of technical terminology. You might not think incorrectly using terms like AI is a big deal in the grand scheme of things but you'd be wrong.
An anti-Trump political organization is using AI originally designed to tackle Islamic State propaganda to counter coronavirus disinformation spread by the president. The system has been repurposed to spot comments from Trump that are about to go viral. It will then identify the most popular counter-narratives, and invite a network of more than 3.4 million influencers "to share these highly visual and emotional narratives from real people in unison and at scale." The initiative is being led by Defeat Disinfo, a political action committee (PAC) advised by retired general Stanley McChrystal, who commanded US and NATO forces during the Afghanistan war. The PAC claims that it won't use any bots, sock puppets, or false information.
We are seeing AI technologies increasingly deployed across many parts of society. Around the globe, governments are rushing to mobilize vast amounts of capital to invest into AI innovation. The COVID-19 pandemic prompts us to rethink what is considered high- or low-skill work. Whose skills, whose labor and whose hours, exactly, are of value to society? What and who do we value and deem essential, and how do we compensate these workers (e.g., care work or teaching)?