It is likely that I and my business will contribute to the advancement of artificial intelligence (AI), so I have a good idea about the limits and potential of this technology. I wanted to touch on how AI should be a tool or assistant to a professional rather than replacing or undermining that individual.
It’s the great fashion in recent years that everyone gets into AI, which usually means either they have something that automates a system, or it is a pattern recognition tool that pulls conclusions out of big data fed to a network, which acts on the conclusion. There is a lot of people in government, business and public services who have been sold a bag of poop that AI will save costs and provide a better service if it was used to replace people in the decision-making process in people-related situations. For example, recruitment by big corporations is now increasingly being automated by AI, so that unless you know how to game the system, it will work against you, and people are reduced to the level of cattle in the corporate system.
There is an obsession with big data, which always has to be cleaned up by low paid humans in places like India to be useable in a pattern recognition system. These pattern recognition systems such as neural networks operate according to hundreds and thousands of data points, building up through statistics a model upon which conclusions and decisions are made. These models and processes are so complex that not even the designers know how they come to their conclusions, what is called a black box situation.
These models are being used to make life changing decisions about people and their families, for instance if a child should be taken into care, or the appropriate penalty in a criminal conviction, or if someone should be liable for parole. This impacts me too, I have today been to my first meeting with medical professionals, who consider I should have an autism assessment, but I also shared things like I suffered depression and had thought about suicide. All I know, this information I shared is being fed into an AI system and it might spit out some conclusion that might lead to me being sectioned by the end of this week, all based on an AI data model rather than human decision-making.
If the reader has coded anything, they will learn that bad code and inputs result in bad outputs. For example, if I dumped into an AI system voting intentions of a large sample of voters in Clacton UK, and used this to predict how the UK will vote in an overall general election, it might suggest UKIP would form the next government, but when the prediction is tested in real life, UKIP will if they are lucky only have control of the Clacton seat in Parliament. In a rising number of cases it has been discovered that the models built on big data are faulty, biased against certain groups, and are unable to handle unique situations. People are forced to conform to a narrow set of categories to access services or be on the good side of a statistical artificial computer model that has no relation to reality.
It is a tragedy that for reasons of money, faith in a flawed technology, and a lack of trust of the wisdom and knowledge of human beings with decades of experience in their fields, the AI has replaced the human with tragic consequences for individuals and society. Families wrongly suffer their children being taken into care, or being imprisoned because the computer judged according to its model this was the right outcome, and nobody can challenge the system data model, because nobody understands how it came to the conclusion.
This is never the way to go for AI, a great tool if used correctly, but totally inappropriate in people-focussed decision-making. The AI is a useful tool or assistant where the human takes the lead, enhancing their decision-making, for instance in project management, not in decision-making when it comes to people.