Ensuring artificial intelligence is for human good, not evil | Information Age

This article by AI Music founder, Siavash Mahdavi, originally appeared on Information Age July 2017. Updated June 2020.


The arrival of artificial intelligence (AI) in everyday life is here, and it seems it’s here to stay. However, the narrative of how AI will shape and transform our economy and society is still unclear.


For several years now, certain industries have come to rely upon AI start-ups and technology to push forward innovation. The first evidence of this was demonstrated back in 2017, when the Paris Air Show invited around 100 companies to have the opportunity to pitch and receive funding from the established giants in this space. This has now expanded well beyond the aeronautical space, where AI is an own industry in its own right. With events such as CogX, AI Summit, AI & Big Data Conference among many others bringing together thought-leaders to discuss the latest developments… Whether it is in the area of design, materials, or just a different way of organising your operations – AI is most certainly shaping the future of business.


Artificial Intelligence and the fourth industrial revolution


Indeed, it could be argued that we are in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution. One that is harnessing the advancements of 3D printing, artificial intelligence and energy storage to name just a few examples. As with any rapid development of new technology, or way of working, there are still many questions surrounding this new era. How will this technology be regulated? Who will be accountable for how exactly this technology is used? More specifically, how can we make sure this technology is used for good and not evil? These are some of the questions that have arisen time and time again in relation to this topic. Will, in fact, the machines take over?


It is undeniable that AI and other advancements will transform the way we live – and are already as we speak. Andrew Yang, one of the democratic presidential candidates in this year’s election ran on this very platform! However, this need not be a frightening or disturbing future. Leaders in this field need to remember that a significant part of their role is to educate the public on how they can benefit from this technology. As well as work together with governments and organisations to make this a positive change. A change that people will welcome with open arms rather than with fear and uncertainty.


In fact, much of the public is still unaware of how much AI plays a part in their everyday lives already. From the smartphones in their pockets to the virtual assistants they so rely on – AI is already helping us to have more time in our day for the things that matter. In the same sense, AI is helping transform workplaces to one less reliant on outdated processes, and instead, freeing time for more creative and meaningful work.


It has the potential to make people’s lives easier and better. Just imagine a technology that has the capacity to track patient care records, relieving doctors and nurses of the huge mountain of paperwork that take up their day to day to life. In fact, Healthcare is a huge space for growth, AI has already proven to be more effective than the human eye in identifying cancerous cells. It is not only making lives better, it’s saving them.


AI and its role in a new age of consumerism


For businesses, AI is a no-brainer. Sales automation and analytics are helping companies present the right product, to the right person, at the right time. Fulfilling the individual needs with the product that best fits – rather than bombarding them with ineffective impersonal mass marketing. And for the music industry, there is a unique opportunity to revolutionise the way we produce and consume music. We are in the midst of a transformation, where the individual can create, listen, and share music in a way that is entirely personalised to their unique tastes and context.


Undoubtedly, every one of these innovations takes on roles and tasks that would ordinarily be performed by people. However, this does not mean that humans are completely removed from the equation. No, rather that their talents, knowledge and creativity is supported by tools that learn as they do – enhancing their experience – not competing with them.


The thought leaders, designers and inventors of this new field of technology need to bear in mind these considerations when building these products. Rather than focusing on the jobs, instead, they should discuss the time that can be gained by every individual, the better care in hospital that they would receive, and how these tools can only add to human creativity and evolution.


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Originally written by Siavash Mahdavi, this article first appeared in Information Age. Updated May 2020.