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What do we want our AI driven future to look like?

Amy McRitchie

03 Nov 2016

Earlier this week, we popped over to TechUK’s offices to learn about what our artificial intelligence (AI) futures hold. MP Alan Mak and Oxford Professor of Philosophy and Ethics, Luciano Floridi, joined tech specialists to discuss the future of AI.

“Who here knows the definition of AI?” Joe Lyske of Time Machine Capital asked as the discussion kicked off. One lonely hand in the audience was raised. It seems that with AI there’s a lot of hyperbole and marketing buzz, and a whole lot of unknown.

I, NoBot

Machine Learning was one of the main threads which ran through the discussion. This is where computers perform tasks within strict parameters set by humans, rather than true intelligence. Currently this will have an impact on lower-skilled jobs but, it’s not going to eliminate the need for people just yet.

But will society ever be taken over by rogue machines? According to the panel, it would appear to be highly unlikely. They argued that it’s never going to be a case of “humans vs. machines” as there is a physical limit on what computers will be able to do, even with quantum computing. It will always fall down to humans and their machines vs. AI and in the absence of true intelligence we stand a pretty decent chance.

Ethics and accountability

A City worker wanted to know who would be culpable if something went wrong when AI makes trading decisions in the stock market.

As no broker would be involved, and therefore can’t be held liable, would the vendor who created the software be to blame, the firm who was trading on behalf of its clients or could it even be the poor guy who wrote the piece of code that made the decision?

In response Luciano delved into the world of distributed responsibility and how, depending on the scenario, each party would have to take some form of liability rather than a single entity.

Masters of the Revolution

People aren’t comfortable with questioning their own intelligence, but ahead of a looming AI revolution this needs to be done. Above all, throughout we heard that there needs to be transparency with AI.

Whether it’s through open collaboration between government and the private sector or through open-source software there is no silver bullet.

Mystery and secrets cause distrust and it’s crucial that everyone is on board as this technology advances. It’s clear that as we enter the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”, AI and keeping the UK as a leader in its development is crucial.

Interested in finding out more? Check out our handy explainer on Artificial Intelligence.