• Getting my Non-tech head around AI: Ask the Experts

    posted on 02/05/2019 by Frances Keane
    A human hand extends to shake that of a robot

    Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

    I can get overwhelmed by all the jargon and the many claims about its potential to change the world.  I am not a tech head but I really do want to understand more about #AI, particularly from a business perspective. What is it that businesses need to be considering?

    I’m very lucky at Personally Speaking to work with speakers who are experts on AI, and I learn a lot from my conversations with them. They are my favourite kind of experts, the type who can make the complex simple, who don’t make me feel stupid, who talk to me in a way that I totally get what they are saying. And I like that. I really like that.

    Terence Mauri says Disrupt or be disrupted

    Terence-Mauri

    Author, speaker, futurist Terence Mauri

    #TerenceMauri urges businesses to take their lead from tech companies and start-ups, who are natural ‘disruptors’ and are an example of new approaches and ways of working that succeed in this new age. He urges leaders to involve everybody in #innovation, to be brave, to move fast and adapt early.

    He makes me feel inspired by the possibilities – armed to deal with them rather than hesitant about what to do. Now I need to challenge myself about how I, in my business, can disrupt rather than be disrupted. Note to self: Be brave! Involve everybody! Move fast!

    Margaret Heffernan says When it comes to ethics, keep Tech out of Tech

    Author, CEO, speaker Margaret Heffernan

    #MargaretHeffernan is passionate about #technology but she challenges the power of AI to fix everything. In a recent piece in the Financial Times, she talks about the importance and complexities of establishing ethics committees that can offer truly objective oversight of the implementation of AI. Tech companies, she claims, are simply not very well equipped to do it, because their passion for the possibilities – the Blue Sky stuff – can ‘blind’ them to potential problems. Such ‘wilful blindness’ makes social, political and even financial risks impossible to quantify, not least because technology is advancing at often-breakneck speed. And if we can’t quantify risks, how can we prepare for them?

    Margaret’s solution? To ensure that ‘ethics committees are made up of disinterested individuals who are capable of crafting a consensus of what is socially acceptable, not merely technically feasible.’ This really challenges the tech companies, but surely it’s better for wider society?

    Margaret also says Watch your #language!

    Be careful of the words you use

    AI needs legitimacy if it is to be embraced fully by society, but often, the language that tech companies use is not one that builds trust. Tech companies, Margaret asserts, need to use a different language – one (in Plain English) that allows everyone to understand what they do, for good and bad. Margaret explores this brilliantly in a recent piece published on Jericho Chambers. ‘The only way that the public will trust AI is if the public is involved in debating and deciding where its limits and boundaries are’. Without that participation, she concludes, AI simply won’t be seen as legitimate.

    Engage your #CriticalThinking

    I think AI offers many exciting possibilities, particularly for health-care, retail, food production, education, manufacturing and travel. I especially like the idea of driverless cars that allow me to sit in the back and read a book!

    I feel the downsides are very real too though. We’ve become so accustomed to surveillance cameras, for example, that we forget they are everywhere – on our streets, in the workplace, even – some say – on our mobiles! Surveillance is of course AI; we just never called those cameras AI, but that’s what they are. And when we become so accustomed to something that we simply carry on regardless, our critical faculties can get blunted and we can forget to

    question things in the way we should.

    After chatting with Terence Mauri and Margaret Heffernan I feel much better equipped to engage in conversations about some of the things that businesses need to be considering regarding AI. Now that feels brave!