We need to start talking already. All of us. An informed conversation about artificial intelligence is overdue, and we must begin it now, at our kitchen tables, in our schools, libraries, and living rooms, at our workplaces, and in our worship places. The AI conversation must also occur in the halls of government by every elected representative who will mold our futures. We must come to terms with the infinite capabilities of this new force and what will be required of us if we are to continue to lead ethical, productive lives in its presence.
I am hoping to be a voice for change by starting a conversation that will include us all, those of us for whom AI is a feared mystery, and those of us for whom AI is a friendly presence. Understanding AI is the first step we must take before we consider its problems, real and perceived. How we respond to AI’s challenges, benefits, and burdens will be our legacy.
Most people are not computer engineers who create the algorithms or manipulate the data sets that empower AI. Nor do we need to be. AI already infuses the lives of each and every one of us. In order to gain an understanding of it, we need to be curious, willing to learn, and observant, qualities we already have or can develop in ourselves and our children.
As technology penetrates our lives, artificial intelligence is being used in dozens of ways which will only increase. It can be in our toasters and our trucks, the heating and security systems in our homes, and in our pets, real and imagined. Artificial intelligence can create narratives and translate languages, as teachers already know, it is used to develop new drugs and help diagnose illnesses; it has revolutionized the lives of differently-abled bodies with assistive devices for those who are deaf or visually challenged. These are just a few of AI’s applications. More emerge almost daily.
Yes, there is a problem. Currently, there are few-to-no state or federal policies or regulations governing the development of artificial intelligence. Nothing ensures the protection of the public or fairness in the uses of AI. There is no oversight of the ethical purposes of AI applications.
This is unwise and unnecessary.
AI can be used to ease our lives, but it may also be used to deprive us of our privacy. It can increase our vulnerability to those who do not have our best interests at heart, sometimes without us even knowing it. When used against us, it can shape our choices and the information we rely on; it can increase divisions among us, or deprive us of our independence. Governments must act to protect us, but in such a way that innovation continues and the advantages of artificial intelligence for all of us can be explored and implemented.
Your personal data can be used and misused. Your identity, a cousin to your personal data, can also be vulnerable. This is of primary concern to all of us. How can we learn to protect our own data, starting right now? How can we be safe?
Each of us has a responsibility to address the world we live in and try to make it better. My team of developers at Personal.ai were largely unregulated, but we chose to create a product that meets our highest ethical standards and remains useful to its users. You, too, can take steps that address many of the issues brought to us by the existence of artificial intelligence.
Ask questions. Seek answers. You do not need to be a computer engineer to learn about artificial intelligence and its potential to change our lives. We can all talk about AI with our friends. We can all share our fears and worries, our insights and information. Check out books from your local library about AI. Listen to podcasts. Discover where AI already exists in your lives and the products you use. Talk to your doctor, your car dealer, your children’s teachers, or your neighbors to learn about their views. Many of us have spent years of our lives grappling with AI, enjoy speaking with your groups and gaining and sharing insights. Ask for a conversation with us! Many of us would be happy to comply. Be curious and observant. Learn more.
Communicate with your elected representatives. When they visit your area, discuss the importance of state and national policies for the development of artificial intelligence. Ask them their opinions on AI. Explain the importance of keeping your personal data from being misused by others. Urge that the safety of the public be the highest priority by making AI transparent and fair to everyone.
Learning about AI is everyone’s responsibility. We are here to help you as we ourselves take this journey.