Financial Times: Is AI really that intelligent?

John Turnhill for Financial Times:

AI, more accurately and narrowly defined in most cases as machine learning, is designed to discriminate: to identify patterns and separate the exceptional from the norm. We must therefore be extremely careful in deciding what we choose to classify, how we select our data and build our models and what actions we take based on their output. Machine learning systems run our internet search engines, recommend products and services to us, influence hiring and firing decisions in the workplace and parole and sentencing decisions in the courtroom.

In Crawford’s view, AI is neither artificial nor intelligent. “Rather, artificial intelligence is both embodied and material, made from natural resources, fuel, human labour, infrastructures, logistics, histories and classifications. AI systems are not autonomous, rational or able to discern anything without extensive computationally intensive training with large data sets or predefined rules and rewards.” In a sense, she writes, AI is therefore a registry of power.

(emphasis mine)

This is an acceptable (even if it’s erroneous) flawed narrative about the AI. John makes a succinct point about “anthropomorphism” – like naming robots with human names (or even voice assistants), but the book under review (Kate Crawford’s Atlas of AI) ties to break it into “nuts and bolts” of the system. I can’t comment on the book but it’s crossed my attention couple of times (blanket carpet bombing and a sizeable marketing budget) to peddle it before it’s pirated.

AI push is not about dystopian future but to keep the “technological engine of innovation” (or it’s myth) alive and relevant. It concentrates the “power” for the data brokers (or those who aggregate it) and have inverted power-relationships with the people it purportedly claims to serve. The fact is (and one that I have brought out several times) that we are digital serfs and “humanising”, it is only attempting to cement the “relationship”.

No, the robot in the picture isn’t transcribing the EMR for us. Sadly, no. Medicine is going through a transformation of it’s own too. But in the immediate future, the idea behind the EMR won’t go away – someone still must manually type everything the patient has said.

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