Dr Andrew Pardoe – Written evidence (AIC0020)

What are the implications of artificial intelligence?


Dr Andy Pardoe has a doctorate in artificial intelligence and is the founder of Informed.AI, a community of websites for AI supporting those interested to learn more or working in the industry. Listed by IBM Watson in the Top 20 of Global AI Influencers, listed just below Elon Musk. He runs the annual global achievement awards for Artificial Intelligence. A member of the British Computer Society Special Group for Artificial Intelligence committee. Currently work for Credit Suisse designing their own Machine Learning Platforms and Applications. Andy is an International Speaker on Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotic Automation.

These are my own personal views.

Questions to be address

  1. The current state of artificial intelligence.
  2. The pace of technological change and the development of artificial intelligence
  3. The impact of artificial intelligence on society
  4. The public perception of artificial intelligence
  5. The sectors most, and least likely, to benefit from artificial intelligence
  6. The data-based monopolies of some large corporations
  7. The ethical implications of artificial intelligence
  8. The role of the Government and
  9. The work of other countries or international organisations.

The current state of artificial intelligence.

While the field of AI has been around since the 1950s, it is only in the last 5 to 10 years that a number of factors have come together to establish an unstoppable progression towards super intelligence and the singularity. Those factors being, (1) the advent of large qualities of data facilitated by big data technologies like Hadoop and Big Table, (2) via Cloud platforms access to scalable computing infrastructure, (3) via the gaming industry multi-processor technologies in the form of graphical processing units (GPUs) and lastly (4) advanced learning algorithms and topologies that enable deep learning neural networks and reinforcement learning. Currently most applications of AI are what is call Narrow or Specific AI (meaning a very targeted application) which a number of companies and research institutions are working on AGI (artificial general intelligence) which holds the promise of delivering super intelligence. However, most knowledgeable commentators believe that AGI and Super Intelligence will not happen for another 20-40 years.

The pace of technological change and the development of artificial intelligence

As detailed by the World Economic Forum, we are at the start of the fourth industrial revolution, and what is most evident is that the rate of change for technology development is increasing at an exponential rate, and we are at the inflection point, where we will see in the next 10-15 years the same amount of change as we have seen in the last hundred years. It is clear to see that the next 25-50 years will be an amazing time of change and transformation. The level of complexity and intelligence shown by our machines will be astonishing and that of science fiction for many. With so many different technologies (Robotics, 3D printing, crypto-currencies and block chain, Virtual and Augmented Reality) becoming mainstream and being integrated together the possibilities are endless for the enabling technology of AI.

The impact of artificial intelligence on society

As with any industrial revolution the impact on society is immense, and will be perceived as both positive and negative, The challenge with the fourth industrial revolution is that its potential to impact every single profession and industry, large and small. Even those industries that currently appear to have a low dependency on technology are also in scope for impact. Both low and high skilled professions will suffer from job displacement, and the need for a universal basic income is real. Highly skilled professionals will learn their trade from AI agents in the future, as the normal method to learn wont be available as AI agents will be performing the basic functions that were previously used to learn the trade. Every role will be augmented to some degree by AI agents. In the near future entire companies could be fully automated, with only a handful of human staff who own the company, and deal with operational changes needed, with all other tasks being managed by computer and robotics. Another aspect impacting society will be the social interactions of intelligent robots and androids with humans, and more specifically how humans will consider and react to andriods.

The public perception of artificial intelligence

As detailed by the Royal Society Report on AI that surveyed the public, many do not know the specific details of AI. but most understand the applications of AI, including self-driving cars and personal assistants on mobile phones. Overall the perception of AI has been positive with the general public, but there is a high risk of misunderstanding of its abilities and capabilities due to the complexity of the techniques and the fact that the field is still relatively new and frequently improving. The concerns around how we manage AI ethics, safety and legislation together with areas like autonomous weapons put at significant risk the positive perception of AI with the public.

The sectors most, and least likely, to benefit from artificial intelligence

All sectors will benefit from AI, just some will benefit sooner than others. The sectors that will be slower to benefit from AI will be those that are highly manual and / or creative in nature. Will we want to watch a theatre production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet performed by robots. One of the unseen beneficiaries of AI are Charities, as advance data analytics can help a charity better target its services to those in most need, companies like DataKind are facilitating such activities.

The data-based monopolies of some large corporations

While this is a concern, this is already happening without the advent of Artificial Intelligence. From an AI perspective, what we really should be concerned about is that the super intelligence and singularities ALGORITHMS and MODELS are not owned and controlled by a few large non-UK corporations. We need to make sure the UK has a seat at this table and our own talent do not all work for foreign entities. More seed and growth investments for UK AI entrepreneurs is needed. Fundamentally the Algorithms and Models are the engine of machine intelligence, Data is just the fuel.

The ethical implications of artificial intelligence

The transparency of decision making seems to be of importance for the acceptance and adoption of AI in many areas, despite this not being the case for the equivalent human decision makers. This transparency not only relates to being able to audit the internals of the neural network in terms of the features it is using to make a decision, but also to have visibility of the data used to train the system, so that any biases can be seen, or rather it can be demonstrated that any intrinsic biases in the data have been removed or compensated for during the training process. There are other ethical concerns with AI, especially where there is not an obvious right and wrong answer and either outcome has consequences. How can we impose the ethical and moral standards of the user of the AI system rather than rely on the default programmed into the system and thus encapsulating the ethical standards of the coder or the underlying training data.

The role of the Government

There are a number of areas the government can support the adoption of AI and position the UK as the leading authority on AI. Firstly, ensure a strong pipeline of students from school with strong computer science teaching, to university with more courses at undergraduate level and more secondary degree options. Secondly halting the brain drain of researchers and entrepreneur working for US or other non-UK companies. Thirdly, better support for entrepreneurs with seed and growth capital to stop startups being bought by non-UK large corporations. Fourthly, supporting initiatives like Informed.AI who are focused on knowledge sharing and education to ensure a positive perception of AI continues. Fifthly, being ready to support the universal basic salary when AI job displacement reaches levels that require the government to support the general public. Finally, embracing any minor legal changes needed to facilitate the rapid adoption of AI systems.

The work of other countries or international organisations.

Given my Informed.AI platform, that has users from all over the world, I get to see activity from every country. While there are the three obviously epi-centers of activity for AI, namely America, UK & China, there is one other emergent country that is noteworthy, and that is India. A hub of outsourcing IT at the moment, many of India’s leading vendors are building out there AI platforms and capabilities. Informed.AI is an international organisation, with a global team and a number of global initiatives including the meet up chapters of Neurons.AI and the Global Achievement Awards for AI.

22 August 2017