The concept of artificial intelligence (AI) has been around for a very long time now, pretty much since the dawn of computing, but until very recently it was sat solidly in the realms of science fiction. As we know though, over time a lot of recurring ideas within the sci-fi genre gradually become science fact and there’s a clamour around AI right now that suggests this could apply to the technology.
When we look at AI within movies, books and even the musings of many a respected futurist, we’ll more often than not be thrust into a rather terrifying world of malevolent computers and robot overlords. So, with AI becoming more mainstream and the technology around it advancing at pace, to the point where its now becoming part of our every day lives (think Alexa, Siri et al.), it’s time to pack up your most treasured belongings, buy a crossbow and head to the hills to sit this out right?
Well, before you run to the tinned food aisle of your local supermarket, it might be worth checking out the report published by our partners at Sage recently, Optimism and Ethics: An AI Reality Check. The report is built around the findings of a recent survey conducted by Sage across consumers and technology providers in both the UK and US markets and you might be quite surprised by some of the results to be drawn from the thousands of respondents.
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The first, and possibly most telling of all, is the fact that close to 45% of all consumer respondents admitted that they have no idea what AI is all about. Sage’s VP of Artificial Intelligence Kriti Sharma sees this a rather worrying finding as it suggests “an urgent need for AI education”. With AI being touted by many leading technologists as the most important topic related to humanity’s future being discussed right now – be that in a positive or a negative light – there’s no doubt that an awareness and understanding of the subject amongst the general populace should be encouraged.
This split between consumer observers and tech industry insiders is also carried over in to their respective attitudes towards AI in general. Possibly as expected, the tech community is more open to AI’s positive potential but consumers “are more likely to be concerned about the potential for technology to dehumanize interactions or lead to job displacement.”
Whether these concerns and fears are well-founded or not is a matter for some debate, but the report goes on to identify the importance of ethics within AI development if they are ever to be allayed. From AI being held to account through to the fact that AI will replace, but it must also create, they are all admirable principles but how to ensure all AI is developed in line with them is where the future arguments surely lay.
This is by no means the final word on AI then, it would be a brave person who claimed to have come up with that right now, but the report is definitely an interesting look into the current perceptions of AI amongst two distinct groups and also a revealing take on Sage’s own approach to AI and how it is positioned in their own product development plans. Download a copy of the report and let us know what you think!