Monday, February 26, 2024
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AI—The good, the bad, and the scary

The Good: Endless applications

“Many of tomorrow’s technologies, from 6G to drones, driverless cars, and the metaverse, require instilling autonomous decision making across millions of internet-connected devices. By default, such systems and environments are very complex to operate, and rely on massive volumes of data that are too big to sift through. This makes it very difficult to deploy them in the real-world, and reap their broad societal benefits in terms of enabling smart cities and accelerating automation across multiple industries. Fortunately, AI-endowed devices can parse through billions of data points in a few milliseconds, a task that would otherwise require decades for a human operator to perform. This then has the potential to create real-time control at-scale while enabling automation ‘in the wild,'” said Saad.

“AI also paves the way towards unimaginable applications that can better our day-to-day life by enhancing the way in which we communicate, conduct business, and navigate the world. Sectors that can benefit from automation range from transportation to healthcare, telecommunications, agriculture, production, and even entertainment. Technologies that we take for granted now, like home assistants, recommendation systems (e.g., those we see in YouTube or Netflix), or robotics, could not have been possible without AI, and we will continue to see them evolve further as the power of AI improves.” 

The Bad: A large carbon footprint

“Unfortunately, AI may have its own carbon footprint and negative environmental impact because it relies heavily on computing at data centers. Those data centers consume a large amount of electricity, and also require a significant amount of water for cooling purposes. Therefore, we are faced with an important challenge of designing green, sustainable AI algorithms that can work with minimal environmental impact. It’s important for us to start quantifying this impact, and to start thinking of solutions (e.g., new algorithms, etc.) that can slash the electricity bill of AI and tame its environmental impact.”

The Scary: Job security

“Just like with every technology early on in its development, it would have its own drawbacks, and it might look very scary to the uninitiated. Take the example of the Internet, back in the early-to-late nineties; many consumers were probably wary of buying a home appliance or even a book from a website – a technology that could have looked like science fiction to the average American at the time,” said Saad.

“Today, the vast majority of our purchases are done online; this includes critical decisions like buying a new home or a new car. I foresee a similar trend with AI. It sounds a bit scary to start relying on a piece of software to make decisions on our behalf, such as driving our car or performing a medical diagnosis. This raises the question of whether AI might begin to replace real jobs like a driver or a doctor. These are, of course, valid concerns that, as technologists, we must take into account as we mature and develop the technology.”

Saad recommends taking these potential scary aspects of AI and harnessing those for the betterment of society. 

“In relation to jobs, we should view AI as an assistant to doctors, not a replacement. For instance,  AI can potentially allow a doctor to sift through complex data to make better informed medical diagnoses much quicker than they could traditionally. Similarly, even though AI may indeed threaten some jobs, it will also help create new jobs that we perhaps cannot even define today.”

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Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama
Leah Sirama, a lifelong enthusiast of Artificial Intelligence, has been exploring technology and the digital realm since childhood. Known for his creative thinking, he's dedicated to improving AI experiences for all, making him a respected figure in the field. His passion, curiosity, and creativity drive advancements in the AI world.
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