UT Professor's New Book Demystifies Artificial Intelligence

Article ID: 701029

Released: 24-Sep-2018 4:25 PM EDT

Source Newsroom: University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business

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Texas McCombs Presents “AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together,” a Talk by the Author, Sept. 26

Newswise — Artificial intelligence is such staple of science fiction that when many of us think about where it might lead, images of malevolent robots and nefarious power plots may come to mind. But McCombs School of Business Associate Professor James Scott has a friendlier view of AI. He’ll share his insights at a Texas McCombs Presents morning coffee gathering Wednesday, Sept. 26 in the Crum Auditorium of Rowling Hall on The University of Texas at Austin campus.

Scott’s new book, “AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together,” demystifies the core concepts behind artificial intelligence by exploring the history of the ideas that led to its development. The result is both positive and entertaining, offering an optimistic look at the benefits of combining human creativity with powerful machines.

Written in collaboration with Nick Polson, a professor at the Chicago Booth School of Business, the book uses history, mathematics and real-world examples to debunk common controversies surrounding AI. 

“On the one hand, you have this huge amount of hype coming from the business world,” Scott says. “Companies are making it seem AI is going to fix every problem for humanity. Then on the other hand, you have the Elon Musks of the world, AI doomsayers who say AI is going to kill everything that we care about. As educators, we believe that to participate in these important debates, you really have to understand what AI is, where it came from, and how it works.”

“AIQ” has an approachable take on the ideas behind AI, one anchored in stories rather than equations, going as far back as Isaac Newton’s ill-fated stint as warden at England’s Royal Mint. While explaining the roots of AI, the book draws parallels to its wholesome modern-day uses in areas such as cancer therapy and cucumber farming — no Black Mirror episode to be found here.

Some fears associated with AI pertaining to privacy or data leaks and are not unfounded, Scott says. These worries are not glossed over in the book. Scott writes about the reasons human judgment is a crucial part of any system that uses artificial intelligence.

"It’s really important that we don’t treat these algorithms like a microwave oven, where you just punch in set of numbers and walk away,” Scott says. “You really have to have humans who know what they’re doing … using (AI) to maybe supplement decisions, not make them.”

The Sept. 26 Texas McCombs Presents talk by Scott, scheduled for 7:15-9:15 a.m., is free and open to the public but registration is required. Coffee will be provided. The venue, Robert B. Rowling Hall, the new graduate school building of the McCombs School of Business, is located at 300 West Martin Luther King Blvd. Parking is available in the AT&T Center underground garage next door.

To read the McCombs feature Q&A with James Scott about “AIQ: How People and Machines Are Smarter Together,” click here.

For journalists: to request a media pass to Scott’s talk, a review copy of his book, or to schedule an interview with him, contact: Molly Dannenmaier, McCombs School of Business, 512-232-6779. 

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