Artificial Intelligence (AI) - the term conjures up futuristic images ranging from Rosie the Robot from The Jetsons to Skynet and Terminators. Perhaps that is why many people don’t know AI is already a part of our everyday lives. Artificial Intelligence is here, but most people are unaware and unprepared.
Artificial Intelligence “Defined”
As a part of the final quarter of my MBA at Santa Clara University, I am lucky enough to complete an independent study with Terri. Part of my work involves interviewing individuals in my network about their interactions with AI at work. Despite working and going to school in Silicon Valley, I’ve had a really hard time finding people to speak with. After questioning some of my classmates who initially said they didn’t use AI, I realized it’s not that companies aren’t using artificial intelligence, it’s that many people don’t know they are using it.
I initially had difficulty trying to define AI. After receiving a crash course on machine learning and neural networks from our company’s AI expert and a lot of late-night googling, I learned it’s difficult to distill AI down to one perfect definition. Artificial intelligence is an umbrella term for many different ways to program or train a computer to do sophisticated tasks, ranging from chatbots stepping in as the first point of contact for customers to the speech recognition necessary to power Siri and Alexa. In fact, you may be reading this blog on a device that uses AI. As Intel points out, “phones are the portal to a world of artificial intelligence,” from Netflix recommendations to Facebook image recognition.
My ignorance, and the ignorance of many in my network, is surprisingly common. Earlier this year, Pegasystems, Inc., released a study entitled “What Consumers Really Think About AI.” As a part of the study, they asked respondents if they have ever interacted with artificial intelligence. 34% said no, 32% yes. As you might suspect, many of the “no” respondents were incorrect and interacted with AI on a regular basis. Specifically, Pega found 84% of respondents used AI based on the devices and services they used. This lack of awareness has negative consequences. Pega found that respondents fear and/or avoid artificial intelligence because of their lack of understanding. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said they would feel uncomfortable interacting with AI and 24% said what they feared most was “the rise of the robots and enslavement of humanity.”
Let’s Be Concerned About the Right Things
There are plenty of reasons to be concerned about artificial intelligence, from biases created by humans to possible unemployment as AI takes over jobs. These ethical dilemmas warrant thorough discussion, yet most people focus on the misconceptions.The best way to combat misconceptions is through education and for this reason alone, we need to encourage educating each other and educating ourselves. Let’s move beyond science fiction and begin discussing the technology in our workplaces and our homes.