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What are the risks of AI?

From bias to malicious use and job destruction, we take a brief look at AI’s risks.

 

The rise of AI

The rise of AI

Seven decades since Alan Turing wrote about the creation of a ‘human-like computer’ in his paper ‘Computing Machinery and Intelligence’, AI is now an everyday reality, thanks to:

improving algorithm

improving algorithms

machine learning, neural networks, deep learning and natural language processing

data

data

from smartphones, ubiquitous internet and other connected devices

computer power

computer power

from advances in software and chip technology

funding

funding

from both the public and private sectors

At its heart, AI is computer programming that learns and adapts. It can’t solve every problem, but its potential to improve our lives is profound… We recognize that such powerful technology raises equally powerful questions about its use. How AI is developed and used will have a significant impact on society for many years to come.

Sundar Pichai, Chief Executive, Google

Potential Threats

Potential Threats

Potential Threats

Algorithmic bias

Flawed programming and unrepresentative data leading to unfair or unethical practices (eg racially biased crime prediction or commercial discrimination against disadvantaged groups in areas such as credit and insurance).

Privacy

Many AI systems are ‘trained’ on, and work with, large data sets in order to identify patterns. This poses legal challenges where personal or sensitive information is used in AI systems without sufficient regard to data privacy and other requirements. This occurred in DeepMind's NHS collaboration, where real patient data was processed during the testing phase of the Streams app.

Loss of control

AI can behave in unpredictable and irrational ways, as with algorithm-driven ‘flash crashes’ and selling spirals that are already affecting financial markets.

Malicious use

AI has been used to manipulate public opinion in the US, Europe, Asia and Latin America via social media ‘bot swarms’ and ‘dark posts’. AI could be harnessed to make cyberattacks faster, more precise and more disruptive.

Unemployment and inequality

AI could threaten large numbers of jobs (particularly manual occupations).

This technology will enhance us - so instead of artificial intelligence, I think we'll augment our intelligence.

Ginni Rometty, Chief Executive, IBM