While a few prominent tech and government leaders spark fear over an Artifical Intelligence-led war against humans, I believe the real AI issues that need to be addressed today are more nuanced, technical and ethical.
People building AI should view creating the technology as an opportunity to authentically inject diversity, ethics and inclusion into the world. In the short-term, it’s important that AI creators, businesses and consumers already employing AI educate people about the real world applications of AI and how to best secure the data AI pulls from to learn new tasks and respond to human inquiries.
Putting AI to Work
It’s true that AI will replace some human jobs. But, the technology will also create brand new job opportunities for people. To prepare, companies need to define how they’ll deploy new AI technologies across the business to reflect the diversity of users it serves, support the shifting (from analog-first to digital-first) workforce, close the human technical skills gap and secure large amounts of critical data. Investing in innovation that removes biases and workforce training will improve human abilities to work in a semi- or fully-automated setting.
Take Amazon’s planned fulfillment center on Staten Island that promises to create 2,250 human jobs while using robots to do administrative and physical fulfillment work. Amazon employees will also have the opportunity to take courses that improve their technical skillsets – a key element of secure, productive human and AI coexistence. Of course, it remains to be seen if Amazon’s move is one toward human and robot collaboration or total automation, but I’m confident the center will provide the global industry with an important case study on scaling AI for business.
Some companies already employing AI, like Toyota and Boxed, plan to keep humans at the center of their automation plans. Others, like China’s JD Commerce will choose full automation. Ultimately, people and AI both need to learn how to perform new tasks – and work together – for AI’s enterprise and industry applications to succeed.
Feeling Secure About AI
AI is a human innovation that’s been around since the 1960s. However, the technology has government, business and consumer use cases that the world is just now beginning to understand. Applications that impact a rising number of people. Consequently, I see the responsibility for AI security, like ethics, falling squarely within the tech community that’s actively innovating and presenting new applications for it today.
For their part, AI creators need to be mindful of ways to avoid and protect against vulnerabilities that open AI technology to attacks from people, governments and, perhaps most alarming, other AI-driven networks. In practice, this means employing trustworthy code at all times and subjecting AI to rigorous testing that replicates the impact of real world attacks. AI creators should also consider developing security guidelines for consumers and businesses that interact with AI. Businesses and agencies that deploy AI should focus on proactively informing users of potential threats to their safety and the data’s integrity.
Embracing A Shared Future with AI
The recent, and global, proliferation of smartphones and availability of web access has sped up AI’s journey from research lab to the mainstream. A rapid trajectory that lends itself to consumer hype over what AI’s introduction to new industries and communities means for the future. That’s why it’s more important than ever for AI creators to be vocal about the technology’s value and jump at chances to address common misgivings about its role in the world.
Fundamentally, people want to know what AI is, why they should care about AI’s real world applications and how exactly they will coexist with AI. They’re looking to the tech community and government leaders to define AI’s role in business, in the home and, more broadly, in the future of humanity. It’s a question that I believe must be answered collaboratively by a diverse group of technology creators, public sector officials, business leaders and regular people. I proudly say: challenge accepted. Who’s with me?
Kriti Sharma is the vice president of bots and AI at Sage Group, a global integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems provider. She is also the creator of Pegg, the world’s first AI assistant for accounting, with users in 135 countries.