Wednesday, November 27, 2019
Future Forum: Demystifying Artificial Intelligence
Can you distinguish between Rembrandt or Shakespeare versus A.I.-generated art? How would I like it if my landlords installed a face recognition system for access to my apartment? Do I care if my automated vacuum will kill a ladybug or a spider? Should we just accept humanity’s impending doom?
These are just a few fascinating questions I got to chew on when I attended the Future Forum on Demystifying A.I. last November 17 in Brooklyn, New York.
Presented by the German Center for Research and Innovation (DWIH) New York, the two-day forum was packed with updates and insights on the development of artificial intelligence from experts, thought leaders, and executives from Germany and the U.S. that made for lively discussions with refreshing, new perspectives.
I appreciated that we did not only delve into the typical fears for the future of AI, but learned about current programs and advances in AI technology in the moment. For example, Hilke Schellmann of the Wall Street Journal shared findings from her investigation into how AI is being used in the hiring process. (You can watch his feature “Artificial Intelligence: The Robots Are Now Hiring” here.)
We also learned about AI’s potential to improve healthcare from Jessica Federer, a Venture Partner at Boston Millennia Partners. And in her keynote ‘My Hopes in AI’, Vivienne Ming talked about how AI is helping the over 60 million refugees in the world by finding them the best relocation point where they have a better chance of finding employment. There is also a chatbot that helps educate young refugees with no access to formal schooling.
I particularly liked Vivienne Ming’s take on AI, stressing that there is so much good that can be done but also a lot of potential problems and issues we need to consider. There is no easy question of good or bad.
For instance, community advocates Tranae Moran and Fabian Rogers were given a forum to share about their fight against putting facial recognition technology in Atlantic Towers building. They discussed AI being used as surveillance and the threats to our privacy.
To give us the perspective of AI itself, there was an interactive exhibit where you watched a video and a program was scanning your face for emotion. Based on the results of your emotions from watching the video, a painting was created with colors associated with certain emotions.
Another interesting presentation addressed, “Machine Ethics - From Artificial Intelligence to Artificial Morality” by Catrin Misselhorn, a professor of Philosophy from Georg-August-University of Gottingen. She addressed the idea of morality of a vacuum cleaner using AI to clean. Should you let it kill bugs? Which bugs? Would you allow it to kill a spider? What about a ladybug?
Lastly, David Rolnick from the University of Pennsylvania talked about how we can use AI to reduce climate change. He shared how he hates the question “Are we doomed?” because the short answer is “definitely, yes,” but it’s a multifaceted problem with many solutions that can actually have a drastic positive impact. One problem is that these solutions aren’t necessarily sexy or newsworthy.
I am grateful to have attended such an energizing forum on AI and I’d definitely go again.