INFORMATION AGE - Ensuring artificial intelligence is for human good, not evil

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


The AI industry knows the machines are coming, and that they’ll enhance people’s lives in ways they haven’t yet begun to imagine, but communicating that effectively is vital.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that start-ups will have a prominent role at this year’s Paris Air Show.  Around 100 companies will have the opportunity to pitch to receive funding from the big boys of aerospace at an event where young companies were once shunted to the side.  It’s further evidence of a trend that is playing out across the science and technology sector and being picked up by the media: established industry players in science and technology are increasingly looking to start-ups and entrepreneurs for innovations, be they new designs, materials or just different ideas about operations.


The industry has definitely caught on to the fact that we are in the midst of a fourth industrial revolution, encompassing the advancement of 3D printing, artificial intelligence (AI) and energy storage, to name just a few elements.  Scientific and tech leaders also know that two heads are better than one when it comes to addressing the challenges this new revolution will throw our way.

This was especially evident at London’s recent CogXevent, where industry thought leaders from around the world gathered to discuss the irrefutable impact that AI is already having across a multitude of sectors, and also to try and begin to answer some of these pressing questions. How will this technology be regulated? Who will be accountable for making sure that this technology is used for good? (There’s no debate that there’s potential to be used for bad.) And, to state the questions that have been frequently splashed across the headlines of the consumer and trade press – how will this technology impact people’s jobs and lives?


There is no doubt that AI and other technological advancements will change the way we live and work, and it will undoubtedly make some roles redundant.  But this needn’t be a frightening or negative prospect. The leaders at the forefront of developing this technology need to remember that part of their role is to educate people on how they will benefit from this technology so that the inevitable realisation that the machines are coming is welcomed with anticipation for positive changes, not fear and uncertainty.

There are a multitude of positive examples demonstrating that AI is already impacting people’s lives in positive ways.  For example, by making employees more productive and freeing them up for more creative and meaningful work.


Many people do not realise how many ways they’ve already begun to embrace this technology.  The smartphones in their pockets and the virtual assistants they use to set alarms are continuously learning.


AI technology has huge potential to make people’s lives better.  Imagine how computers that have the capacity to keep track of patient’s care plans could help the healthcare industry – nurses and doctors would be relieved of mountains of administrative work and could focus on taking care of patients or pushing research forward that could help cure diseases. Or in the security industry, where vast amounts of data have to be analysed to spot patterns and identify potential threats, AI tools will help analysts make better, more informed decisions faster.


In retail, sales automation and analysis is helping companies present customers with products that fill genuine needs and desires in their lives, rather than just bombarding them with mass meaningless sales messages. Driverless cars will dramatically change the way we get from place to place – what could people do with an extra hour of time to explore their hobbies or interests on the way to or from work each day?


All of these innovations take on roles and tasks that used to be performed by people, but that doesn’t mean that humans are removed from the equation – rather that their talent, knowledge and skills and scope for creativity is supported by tools that learn as they do, continually enhancing their abilities, not competing with them.


The thinkers, designers and inventors driving these innovations forward need to remember to communicate the benefits of this new technology to everyone who will use it. Rather than focusing on what jobs will be lost, they should discuss the time that people will gain, the better care they’ll be able to provide and receive, how the world will become safer, and the value these new tools will add to human creative processes.


Sourced from Siavash Mahdavi, CEO, AI Music, which is exploring what happens when you apply the latest AI tech to music creation.


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