WHY ARE WE SCARED OF AI ?

Does Artificial Intelligence make you feel fearful ? Do you picture hyper-intelligent robots taking over the world in the near future ? If so, it is completely normal ! Before becoming an intern at Eva Engines I had preconceptions about AI too, but working with tech geniuses who taught me a lot, I now can explain why most of us don’t trust AI…

What are we afraid of ?

The most rational fear that I have heard regarding AI is the fact that it will take our jobs. Just like any invention aimed to reduce human efforts, job destruction usually comes along… As machines get more intelligent and more convenient, they can replace repetitive tasks which are less stimulating for us, even if this is most of the time at the expense of low-qualified workers. So what is even scarier with AI is its ability to potentially also replace highly skilled workers. However, as you will understand later on the article, at Eva Engines, we like the term “job transformation” better. Remember : AI is just a tool !

The innovation that had everyone talking and stressing out is DeepBlue : the AI machine who beat chess champion Garry Kasparov in 1996. The idea is that if machines can beat humans at “low-stakes” games such as chess, then what if we lose control ? What if they one day decide to destroy all human forms ? Indeed, people usually fear that AI could take over the world and become more intelligent than mankind. What we fear is probably the fact that another entity than humans can make decisions. We have always prided ourselves with the fact that us humans have the ability to go over our primal instincts and control ourselves for a greater purpose — unlike most animals. But with AI, an invisible concept is making decisions and this can be a really scary idea for some of us.

To sum up, we have this very humane fear of losing control. But how and why was it constructed in the majority of our minds ? Keep on reading…

Why are we so afraid ?

As most preconceived notions, our fear of AI is a social construct. Because of the hard mathematical skills that we need to have in order to fully grasp the notion of Artificial Intelligence, we are likely to rely on the most basic information in order to make up our mind about it. So yes, we choose to rely on what we have seen in movies…

What is the similarity between Minority Report, the Matrix, Westworld, Terminator, 2001 Space Odyssey and all of these kinds of movies ? I will tell you : terrible AI representation ! These movies are great and super well-made obviously. But when you grow up watching those, you unconsciously envision a near future where robots become more powerful than humans…Just think about the Imitation Game, a movie about Alan Turing’s creation of the first computer : AI was not that scary in this historical movie right ? Well that is way closer than what AI is right now in 2021. Of course, experts now find ways to make AI even more useful than in the 40’s, but I can assure you that we are nowhere near robots faking or having emotions (like in the movie Her) — read my last part to understand why.

We have taken the easy way out : falling into representations of AI invented by genius film directors. We have been too lazy to search for more information — which is totally understandable : AI is a hard concept to grasp !

We might have also made the mistake of relying too heavily on what star engineers have said — again, giving too much credit to 1 or 2 opinions, without getting to know the entire AI field, experts and points of view. Elon Musk’s words have made headlines : “AI is far more dangerous than nukes”. However : not only did many tech brains respond, but Musk himself nuanced his statement. For example, Mark Zuckerberg said that Elon Musk’s speech was “pretty irresponsible”. And we have to take into account the rest of Musk’s affirmations : he encouraged all of us to dissociate case-specific applications of AI (such as his Tesla cars) and general AI. The latter has “a million times more compute power” (…) “So it is really all about laying the groundwork to make sure that if humanity collectively decides that creating digital super intelligence is the right move, then we should do so very very carefully — very very carefully. This is the most important thing that we could possibly do.” However, “narrow” use of machine intelligence such as self-driving cars or Eva Engines’ garment generation are truly inoffensive. They are just short term applications.

In conclusion : we must search for information before rushing to conclusions !

Debunking our fear

So, as you may have understood from my previous statements : information is key before feeling unnecessary threats from Artificial Intelligence. We tend to put AI in a box and think that there is no nuance to it. We always picture robots…But there is not “one type” of AI : there are recognition algorithms generative algorithms, deep learning, machine learning, and so on…There are many different types of algorithms which can be used for many different domains, like images, videos, recommandations, text, speech…

Regarding jobs, AI is actually a tool that can help us with some tasks, leaving us more time to focus on other — more important and more elevating — missions. It leads people to focus on more added-value tasks and help them in repetitive and time consuming ones . For example AI lets you navigate 1 million images in a few seconds and recognize anything you want. Imagine the time it would take us to do so by hand…

Regarding our fear of losing control, keep in mind that AI only goes as far as computational power lets it. What is computational power ? It is the capacity of our computers. This grows rapidly, that is for sure. But it is still limited : machines won’t rebel against us anytime soon, do not worry ! Plus, for AI to develop, we need research about it, and yes researchers are hard at work, but the more they learn, the more they discover how much distance they still have to go. I will end with one more fact to reassure you : AI won’t break free in the foreseeable future because algorithms evolve in mathematical frames. Within those mathematical frames, we have total control and algorithms only learn basic language !

I hope that this article helped you put things into perspective and if you want to discover how Eva Engines puts AI into practice for the fashion industry, head over to our website : evaengines.com !

French startup at the heart of fashion & AI

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