February 5, 2018

How ready are we for Artificial Intelligence and a smarter society?

Christian Guttmann

Global Head of Artificial Intelligence and Data Science (VP), Chief Artificial Intelligence and Data Scientist, Tieto

Imagine if a person from the 1980s were to be transported to the year 2018. Everything around would seem positively magical. Yes, they would have known about the concept of a cellular phone, but could not have possibly imagined the sheer variety of uses that our smart phones are now capable of, or the ease with which we access the internet and go online. The speed at which technology has evolved would leave them astounded.

We are in a similar place when it comes to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and its effect on our lives. There is no denying that we are entering a future where AI will be part and parcel of our daily lives. In fact, we predict, over the next 20 years, AI technology will have the most dominant impact in all areas of liferanging from simple activities such as buying a movie ticket to potentially more complex tasks such as performing brain surgery.  

We have already clear indications for these AI transformations to be successfully appliedNarrow’ AIs are tasked towards specific purposes and are in use in the healthcare, banking and retail space. They already help us with many tedious tasks such as assessing a large number of medical transcripts, studying radiographs, calculating premiums and also personalize our web browsing experience. 

They also perform services by combing through gigantic amounts of data and calculating data models that help us make decisions more effectively. But even with all of this, on scale level of 1 to 10, we would wager that we’re barely at level 2 when it comes to exploiting AI’s full potential. 

Moving towards Artificial General Intelligence 

The good news is that we are on the right path towards understanding and applying AI. Even as we speak, organizations across different industries are working on ways to integrate AI into their systems and better optimize their businesses. Work has already begun on developing Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) systems which can combine the work of several narrow AI systems like Deep Learning, Augmented Data Discovery, Dialogue Engines and Smart Robots, to name a few, and perform a larger range of more complex tasks.  

In short, an AGI is able to orchestrate the performance of several complex tasks at the same time. Iwill drive your car, monitor your health and bank balances and interact with you using a digital persona. As we are already using Siri and Cortana, we can easily project that the development of more advanced AIs is inevitable. 

Things will get more interesting when you marry advanced AIs with drones and other smart robots. A multi-agent, distributed system as we call it. We could even have multiple AIs collaborating with one another in the form of artificial teams. We already know that humans can work more efficiently alongside AI. In the future, we will have even more Human/AI teams, supplemented by smart robots or drones, and increase the success rates in performing complex tasks.  

As we continue to move into the age of AIa big question that needs to be asked is how ready is the world to embrace AI. Even now, AI is considered the preserve of tech companies and most attempts to take it mainstreahave had to deal with basic constraints like a lack of infrastructure to effectively deploy it. This is why it is necessary for governments to prioritize AI development across sectors and create strong AI infrastructure.  

Need for a strong AI policy 

Many governments acknowledge the transformative impact AI will have on economy, society and well-being. To capitalise effectively on it, they will continue to create a strong AI policy. One that will lay down norms to ensure that AI is deployed responsibly and that AI applications meet international standards. This, in turn, will have a domino effect, encouraging business and citizens to engage with AI more confidently.  

Governments and international organizations will put more thought into the kind of regulations that govern AI and its usage. The AI systems of the future will be self-learning machines that may have a unique take on the world. We must ensure that any regulations that govern AI are designed to further many criteria, with one such criterion being its effectiveness. However, arbitrary limitations will only turn AI into a good-looking program instead of a system which has a huge potential to effect change. 

Last but not the least, we must also look into ethical concerns. Who will be responsible for an AI’s actions? How do we help it decide what kind of actions must be taken? How do we help AI to understand our values, and also the ability to balance risk versus benefit? These are questions that bring together different schools of thought like philosophy and morality. Organizations are currently engaged in helping make these kind of decisions, but we must accelerate this process if we can. 

We, at Tieto, have taken the lead and are actively engaging with governments to help them figure out a strong AI policy. For this to succeed, it requires the active involvement of all stakeholders. After all, we would all benefit from shaping a smarter society, one that is resilient and helps us improve our lives dramatically 

Watch Christian Guttmann's video, "Are we ready for Artificial Intelligence and a smarter society?", here.

What does a smarter society mean?  

The value of the smarter society comes in many flavorsTieto’s ambition is to utilize our expertise to continue shaping a smarter society, one which anticipates the needs of the people in every phase of their lives. For more insights and examples on how we are doing this, visit our web page.

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