Humans For AI

Interview series

 


futurist. writer. speaker. 

Dave Bartlett is leading the digital transformation for Panasonic Avionics.  He is also a futurist, writer and frequent speaker,  His mission is delivering exceptional, next generation, experience while building trusted, co-making partnerships that create differentiated and sustainable solutions for the planet.

 

 

“The best place to start leveraging AI is where humans are already being replaced by machines.”

 

How would you explain AI to a 15 year old with no programming background?

Knock, knock.  Who’s there?  I am.  I am who?  You don’t know who you are?

Get it?  Of course you do! You are an intelligent human being with a sense of humor. OK, it’s a very corny joke but your ability to think about it, smile, and understand why it was funny is because you have the ability to interpret, reason, and understand the humor. This ability is called human  intelligence. Now let’s take something that is not human like a computer , for example:  Alexa. You can ask Alexa to tell you a knock knock joke but can Alexa really understand the joke and why is was funny?  If Alexa could do that then you would have created something called Artificial Intelligence since Alexa is not a real person. AI is all about making a machine think more like a human.

 

There is a growing concern about artificial intelligence taking away jobs. Which jobs do you think will have the biggest impact due to AI?

Well it is already happening!  The natural place to leverage AI is for repetitive, process oriented jobs.  The best place to start leveraging AI is where humans are already being replaced by machines.  For example banking – We have already seen many bank tellers replaced by ATMs but what about loan processing, investment advice, or opening up new accounts.

Another example is labor intensive jobs in manufacturing and construction that have already seen an increase in the use of robotics to replace human tasks.  AI can help improve robotics to handle more complex tasks or unexpected challenges like manufacturing supply chain issues or managing construction delays.  Another example is trains in airports that move people from terminal to terminal without a conductor or driver.  Transportation is already shifting, replacing dispatchers and professional drivers that exchange money to the use of computers and smartphone apps  to create a more ‘frictionless’ experience.  As we move to autonomous conveyance, AI will be key in removing the driver entirely.

There are experts that believe that AI is a good thing that will enhance the world and human lives. There are also experts that fear AI will destroy humankind. What are your thoughts?

We interpret the world around us and use that information to do useful work. We can use ourselves as kind of a blueprint  to build machines with AI to help us do work more efficiently and be more productive. That is a good thing! We can leverage AI to automate what we don’t want to spend all our time doing.  That frees us up to devote more time to what really interests us,  in satisfying jobs that are more creative, or intellectually stimulating.  We can also leverage AI as a kind of prosthetic for the brain helping us with better recall and faster processing capabilities giving us a kind of super power!

Like any technology, however, AI can also be misused to advance criminal or undesired results. For example, the use of AI in cyber warfare enables hackers to evolve their malware more quickly creating bigger threats. We must work to insure AI is used and governed in a responsible manner and misuse is kept in check.

Can you share the most unique application of AI that you have seen so far?

I remember watching as IBM’s supercomputer Watson was able to beat the most successful human Jeopardy players, like Ken Jennings who had previously won 74 consecutive shows – the most ever =  but he was no match for Watson’s AI.  I believe this ushered in a new chapter in AI where a machine was able to learn and understand what humans were really asking for.  I was fortunate to work for IBM at the time and to have worked on many of the constructs embraced by Watson.  Jeopardy was a new level of challenge for AI deciphering the clues that rely on subtle meanings, puns, and riddles; something humans excel at and computers do not.

Why is it important to have diverse humans involved in the design, development and testing of AI?

Diversity is important for a number of reasons.  At the top of the list is the fact that diversity (especially deep-level diversity) amplifies creativity that is key in prioritizing and applying AI to help solve the many pressing challenges in the world today.  As I said earlier, AI can also be misused to drive undesired results.  To insure AI is used and governed in a responsible manner diversity will insure we are doing this not from a single point of view but from more of a world view. This is important as AI  technology has the potential to impact a large proportion of the world’s population.

Humans For AI thanks Dave Bartlett for being an avid supporter for increasing diversity in tech. Thank you Dave!

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