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Artificial Intelligence: ‘Preparing’ with care for the dawn of something great.

by Niall Moran

Artificial Intelligence: ‘Preparing’ with care for the dawn of something great.

A major week in the world of artificial intelligence (AI) with the House of Lords Select Committee future gazing at how the world will change as AI begins to take hold. Alongside this, AI Expo reaffirmed the potential of exciting new developments in the space at an action packed event in London.

On Monday, we found ourselves sifting through the much-anticipated Lords report, to date the most significant Parliamentary inquiry into the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI). 

The Chairman of the Committee, Lord Clement Jones focused on the  UK’s strong position as a world leader in the development of AI. His view, and the view of the wider committee, was that this position, coupled with the wider adoption of AI, could deliver a major boost to the economy for years to come.  However, while the report acknowledges the clear potential of artificial intelligence it also places strong emphasis on the UK’s role as an ethical leader in the AI world. It calls for the creation of means that can be used to identify algorithmic bias and make it easier for people to understand how AI systems arrive at decisions. Running through the entire report is a sense of the need to ‘prepare’, to set the country up for AI to prosper, but under strict guidelines.

One of the recommendations of the report is for a cross-sector AI Code to be established, which can be adopted nationally, and internationally. The Committee’s suggested five principles for such a code are:

  1. Artificial intelligence should be developed for the common good and benefit of humanity.
  2. Artificial intelligence should operate on principles of intelligibility and fairness.
  3. Artificial intelligence should not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals, families or communities.
  4. All citizens should have the right to be educated to enable them to flourish mentally, emotionally and economically alongside artificial intelligence.
  5. The autonomous power to hurt, destroy or deceive human beings should never be vested in artificial intelligence.

Later in the week on Wednesday, I found myself attending AI expo, and it was here I witnessed the potential that was spoken about in the AI report. The technology was simply mind-blowing.

Amongst the attendees was Sensing Feeling – an advanced human emotion sensor for business that uses deep-learning/AI to passively determine customers’ emotional response to the environment provided to them, helping you to understand how engaged and delighted customers are with the products and services provided to them. No more false customer feedback forms but feedback that can allow a business to reshape its offering to what is resonating with consumers.

Also in attendance was Trik – a ‘customised 4D data management system’ and will automatically turn drone photos into interactive 3D models. The implications of this technology for the construction industry could be transformational.

Again though, even as I saw the real life potential of these technologies, the narrative sat firmly around the need to ‘prepare’. However, this time the focus was not on the need for an ethics-first approach, but moreover the need to address any element that would hold AI back from conquering all. One panel discussion focused on the clear shortage of data scientists and how organisations in Britain are struggling to recruit the best.

What is clear is that the scope of what is possible is truly exciting. As AI firms jostle for position amongst an ecosystem of exciting start-ups, one could be forgiven for clearing a path for AI to truly prosper unchecked and pressuring government to aid industry progress in any way possible.

Although what’s equally apparent is that as we set the scene for the dawn of something great we must nod to the old adage (and the more recently attributed Spiderman quote) ‘with great power comes great responsibility’. I can’t help but feel that the Lords ethics first approach is the way forward.