Common misconceptions about AI

By admin

Oct 10, 2020

There has been so much buzz about Artificial Intelligence in recent times. The term Artificial Intelligence is quite old though, coined in 1956 by John McCarthy, the American computer scientist.

AI has had a checkered history. It remained confined to labs and the occasional demonstration of a computer that could beat humans in games. Things took a turn in the 1990s. The availability of powerful computing platforms and multi-disciplinary research efforts led to new and interesting applications. Today, AI is impacting our lives in unimaginable ways.

AI has always evoked strong reactions. As the technology evolved, so did a mythical aura around it. Let’s look at some common misconceptions about AI and explain the truth behind them.

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  • Myth 1: AI will rule the world (and we will be enslaved by machines)

Remember The Matrix? The Terminator film series? How about Blade Runner? The enslavement of humans by ultra-intelligent machines has been a central, recurring theme of several sci-fi movies. Are these just works of rich imagination, brilliant film-making, and mind-boggling computer imagery? Or should we listen to the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking, who thought the possibility was real?

This brings to the fore a few relevant questions: Will machines become completely autonomous and work without human intervention? Can, and will they be taught to imagine as we do? The answer to both the questions is No—at least for now. Fictitious, diabolical super-villains may build robots to annihilate the world. But the possibility of someone spending time and money to create a machine that can make decisions to harm humans looks improbable.

  • Myth 2: AI will grab all jobs

The fear of robots replacing the workforce is quite common, even in progressive communities. The topic has triggered so much heated debate and consternation that the word “robot” has acquired a negative connotation. There are two interesting variations of the theory:

    • Myth 2a: AI will grab all menial jobs:

Automation, in most cases, means employing robots to do repetitive work in a precise, error-free manner. This has indeed led to fewer workers in factories. But, it’s an exaggeration to label it as a deathblow to jobs everywhere.

Let’s see why. Throughout history, and particularly since the period of the industrial revolution, we have seen mechanized gadgets consistently replacing human labor. Except that over the last few years, it’s robots. Despite the momentous developments, the job landscape has remained unchanged. We have not seen en-masse unemployment or retrenchment.

On the contrary, automation has led to improved quality and faster production lines. AI serves to supplement human efforts, contributing to smarter fulfillment of tasks.  Sure, it also replaces some workers in the process. It’s also apparent that they don’t stay unemployed forever. They simply take up other jobs.

    • Myth 2b: AI will grab all intelligent jobs (subtext: AI will replace doctors, auditors, lawyers, et al.)

Professions that involve diligent scrutiny of voluminous and complex information are already employing AI tools. Early diagnosis of diseases is possible with an accurate reading of radiology images and scan reports. Examination of thousands of documents to identify a critical point for a legal case can be completed in minutes, if not seconds. Humungous stacks of statements can be analyzed to instantly generate a concise summary of a company’s financial health. Today, chatbots represent the front-line customer support team across all industries, offering quick answers to a variety of queries.

These use the power of Machine Learning algorithms, developed to serve the exact purpose. A closer look shows where technology is useful. Decisions are still made by experts in the respective field. Technology serves just as a decision-support utility. It cuts down the drudgery associated with such professions, while improving the accuracy and speed of routine, yet arduous work. The human emotional and empathetic touch will always be relevant and irreplaceable.

  • Myth 3: Machines will become much more intelligent than humans

This is another sci-fi spin-off. AI is, after all, a bundle of computer programs developed by human beings. It’s true that machines already outclass people, even experts, on specialized tasks such as in a game of chess (or Jeopardy, in a watershed moment in the history of AI). But they still can’t do everything that comes to us naturally: understand sensibilities, reciprocate emotions, respond to social stimuli, or express creativity. Only living beings can boast of consciousness and sentience.

Artificial neural networks and cognitive AI try to emulate the human brain and mimic the process of learning. Understanding the functioning of the brain is still work-in-progress. Programmers rely on a limited set of training data to “teach” computers and enable them to learn on their own. Results are unpredictable or incorrect when the application is outside the defined framework.

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  • Myth 4: AI will solve all problems

Nope. It can’t. And it may not, ever.

Artificial Intelligence is just specialized software. Its problem-solving capability is based on two sets of variables: the algorithms and the data. Where the information is incomplete, imperfect, or invalid, its interpretation is bound to be incorrect. Even purpose-built systems with immaculately designed logic are known to have failed when exposed to unexpected conditions.

Real-life situations can be, and mostly are, unpredictable. AI will certainly help in areas where the parameters are within limits, and the rules clear and defined. Even here, AI can only help interpret data and indicate possible results. It’s for a human to decide on what to do with it. To think of AI as the silver bullet to hit every problem with is far-fetched.

  • Myth 5: AI is unbiased

Unfortunately, not always. AI technology is “trained” with data. Its rules are developed by humans. Thus, the AI system ends up acquiring the bias that is inherent in the data or in the people who develop the algorithms.

Bias may also creep in when data is not wholly representative of the complete set or with selective use of data for training. The problem is even more acute when data is from heavily opinionated sources, such as social media posts.

Technology cannot infuse objectivity in an AI solution. It’s the people who build and manage it that are responsible to make it truly unbiased.

  • Myth 6: My company doesn’t need AI

One couldn’t be more wrong on this one. AI is already transforming businesses. Adoption of the technology is growing at a frantic pace across the world. Independent studies indicate that within a decade, no industry segment will remain untouched by the AI revolution.

It’s also a fallacy that AI is only for large corporations with complex processes. Every organization, irrespective of the size or the type of business, can harness it to maximize operational efficiency. The technology is industry-agnostic. AI techniques can be implemented to serve the needs of diverse enterprises–from financial services, telecommunications, and healthcare, to the relatively traditional pursuits of manufacturing, construction, and education.

To be successful, organizations strive to be a step ahead of the competition with the right products, services, and strategies. A suitably designed AI solution is certain to make this endeavor intuitive, stress-free, and rewarding.

A winning AI strategy needs a complete understanding of the current business processes. It should factor in both current and future requirements. The solution should be easy to deploy and use.

With its proven experience in data and digital technologies, toCode offers comprehensive ArtificiaI Intelligence consultancy services. The innovative solutions designed, built, and delivered by the experts at toCode facilitate easy and cost-effective AI adoption.

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