WH RFI for AI Spurs Worry & Excitement

We’re grateful to Search Business Analytics, which made us aware today that the White House recently sent out a Request for Information about the future of artificial intelligence. It also compiled an even-handed, pro-and-con, fair’n’balanced take on what it all means, from a variety of scientists, technologists and futurists.

The responses “show a continued divide between those who are ready to embrace intelligent machines and those who worry about a future in which robots run the world,” the article notes.

The RFI's responses were released recently in early September, after the White House Office of Science and Technology issued a call for input about how artificial intelligence technology is currently shaping the world, how AI is likely to develop in the future and what role the government should play in either encouraging or regulating development.

Responses came from large corporations, such as IBM, Google and Microsoft, as well as from academia and private citizens. The responses show there still is little agreement about the future of AI.

Some comments reflected unease with a future in which machines make many of our decisions. Here are excepts of what we found most interesting, though far from the complete list of good stuff:

  • "The danger is not machines run amok, as suggested by some, like [Elon] Musk or [Stephen] Hawking (who know nothing about AI). The danger is, like nuclear weapons, what AI will allow us to do to ourselves.”

  • “[We are] optimistic about the future of artificial intelligence, and confident the technology will have widespread positive impacts. However, the rapidly developing technology will have significant effects on jobs, education and policy, as well as ethical and regulatory implications for the federal government.”

  • “no field of artificial intelligence raises urgent and serious human-rights concerns more than the research and development of fully autonomous weapons. “

  • “AI technologies could amplify and entrench biases that already exist in society, or may create new biases, based on the use of biased data sets and algorithms."

  • “AI-powered tools, like digital assistants and instant language translation, are engendering more commerce and communication,”

  • “Dangers of runaway AI are overblown. While research into AI safety makes sense, government should not view AI as an existential threat.”

AI is coming, whether we’re ready or not, so we might as well get ready. It’s good the White House is thinking about itl, and even better that they are reaching out to such a wide range of experts and opinon-leaders about it.