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Artificial Intelligence and the public: the devil really lies in the details

A large number of people do not realise that they already have interacted with intelligent systems. Convincing people that that they already use AI heavily in their day to day life and that their fear of AI is misguided is a tough task. 

AI in the long term will succeed if and only if public in general believes that AI works for them. In today’s conversation about AI, there is too much emphasis on technology rather than humanity. More and more conversations should happen around how we design AI agents that keep human tendencies and values at the core of their being. Since the technology is catching up very fast we need to initiate a dialogue between corporates, governments and public to come to an agreement on how one sees the future of AI and AI-enabled world in general. Leaving behind anyone’s interest is not an option.



Today AI research is not only limited to prestigious labs and few chosen centres. Companies and startups are exploring machine learning techniques to build better products and provide them to their customers. Every day, consumers of varied backgrounds are being exposed to the power of AI and machine learning. Performance of AI agents in tasks such as speech recognition, object recognition, etc., has been increased dramatically over the last decade. And this has resulted in a range of products that were quite unimaginable even 20 years ago.

This hype around the newfound life in machine learning goes on but even still very few corporations talk about the end user involved. For the public which faces or will face the sea of bots, recommendation systems largely go unheard. If we really try to measure and understand what exactly the customer feels about this new form of engaging technology, the insights can be gathered to improve services or change policies that may benefit more than one party in the long run.

When it comes to public perception of AI or any advanced modern technology, there will be a whole spectrum of responses and emotions that we will have to take into account. A sector of the population is really excited and sees great promise in the advent of AI and thinks it will make the society a better place. Another sector of population is not so optimistic and sees intelligent agents taking over their jobs. Others even foresee an invasion of the civilisation by intelligent bots. All these sentiments clearly shine a light on the need of educating end users of these services, otherwise future developments and adoption will be hindered and we will be worse off as a society. History has shown us that public education is an important step in faster adoption and use of any technology.

It is a great opportunity for ambitious companies to take a measure of people’s sentiment and adjust their approach and strategy to align with their preferences. If executed properly, the customers will be great partners in the journey of unleashing full powers of AI. A certain and knowledgeable consumer base will only benefit corporations in the long term.
One great strategy to increase confidence in current AI and improve adoption of advanced technology is to convince the public that they already use AI heavily in their day to day life. A large number of people do not realise that they already have interacted with intelligent systems. Convincing people that their fear of AI is misguided is a tough task. Mantle is equally on science communicators, policy think tanks, corporates and governments to clearly communicate nuanced information about the technology that will influence so many facets of the public in the coming years. The devil really lies in the details.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)

About Patrick Ireland

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My name is Patrick Ireland, living in the Philippines with my wife and two daughters. I have been studying the web for over a decade. Now that I am 60 years old, I am starting to apply some of the knowledge that I have gained. "Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is to never stop questioning." -Einstein.

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