The latest chapter in a 100-year study says AI’s promises and perils are getting real

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The AI100 project is designed to track the trends of artificial intelligence over the course of a century. (Image courtesy of AI100 / Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence)

A newly published report on the state of artificial intelligence says the field has reached a turning point where the focus should be on the everyday applications of AI technology – and the ways in which that technology is being misused.

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The report, titled “Gathering Strength, Gathering Storm,” was released today as part of a Centennial Study on Artificial Intelligence, OR AI100, which has been seen as a century-long effort to track progress in AI and guide its future development.

AI100 was started by Eric Horwitz, Microsoft’s Chief Scientific Officer, and hosted by Stanford University Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence. The project is funded by a gift from Horvitz, a Stanford alumnus, and his wife, Mary.


The project’s first report, published in 2016, downplayed concerns that AI would lead to a Terminator-style rise of machines and warned that fear and doubts about AI would hinder efforts to ensure the safety and reliability of AI technologies. Will put At the same time, it acknowledged that the impact of AI and automation could lead to social disruption.

This year’s update, prepared by a standing committee in collaboration with a panel of 17 researchers and experts, said the impacts of AI are increasingly affecting people’s lives, ranging from settings. movie recommendations and voice assistant for autonomous driving and automated medical diagnosis.

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Michael Littman, a computer scientist at Brown University who chaired the report panel, said, “Over the past five years, AI has made a leap from something that happens mostly in research labs or other highly controlled settings to people’s lives in society.” affect it.” in a news release.

“It’s really exciting, because this technology is doing some amazing things that we could only have dreamed of five or ten years ago,” Littman said. “But at the same time the field is becoming more vulnerable to the societal impact of this technology, and I think the next frontier is thinking about ways we can benefit from AI while minimizing the risks.”

Those risks include deeply faked images and videos that are used to spread misinformation or damage people’s reputations; Online bots that are used to manipulate public opinion; the algorithmic bias that infects AI with all-human biases; and pattern recognition systems that combine data from multiple sources together to invade personal privacy.

Computer scientists should work closely with experts in the social sciences, the legal system and law enforcement to mitigate those risks, the report said.

One of the benefits of conducting a century-long study is the way each report is based on previous reports, said AI100 standing committee chair Peter Stone, who is a computer scientist at the University of Texas at Austin as well as Sony. is the Executive Director. AI America.

“The 2021 report is important to this longitudinal aspect of AI100 because it aligns closely with the 2016 report, which is about what has changed in the intervening five years,” he said. “It also provides a wonderful template for future study panels to emulate by answering a set of questions that we expect future study panels to reevaluate at five-year intervals.”

Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Seattle-based Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, praised the AI100 update in an email to GeekWire.

“The report represents a substantial amount of work and insights by top experts inside and outside the field,” said Etzioni, who was on the study panel for the 2016 report but played no role in the update. “It shuns sensationalism in favor of measured and scholarly obligations. I think the report is about the potential for human-AI collaboration, the need for AI literacy, and the essential role of a strong non-business perspective from academia and non-profits. Correct.

Etzioni’s only quibble was on the report’s claim that so far, the economic importance of AI has been “comparatively small – especially relative to expectations”.

“I think the report may underestimate the economic impact of AI, as AI is often a component technology in products made by Apple, Amazon, Google and other major companies,” he said.

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