Artificial Intelligence: an asset or a curse?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to computer systems that can perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. AI systems are powered by advanced algorithms that enable them to learn from data and experience without being explicitly programmed.

Some key advantages of AI include:

  • Increased efficiency and productivity - AI can automate routine and repetitive tasks, allowing humans to focus on more meaningful work. AI assistants like Siri and Alexa have already become integrated into our daily lives.
  • More informed decision-making - AI can quickly analyze massive amounts of structured and unstructured data to detect patterns and provide insights that may be missed by humans. For example, AI is being used by doctors to diagnose diseases.
  • Personalization at scale - AI can anticipate individual needs and preferences through data analytics and tailor offerings and recommendations accordingly. For example, Netflix and Amazon use AI to provide personalized content recommendations to users.
  • Improved healthcare - AI is supporting doctors by analyzing medical images and scans with greater speed and accuracy to assist with diagnosis and treatment planning.

However, there are also risks and challenges associated with increased reliance on AI:

  • Job losses - As AI takes over more routine cognitive and manual jobs, many people may find their skills obsolete. This may contribute to increased unemployment and inequality.
  • Bias - AI systems rely on data that may reflect societal biases around race, gender and culture. This can lead to unintended discrimination in areas like hiring, lending and policing.
  • Lack of accountability - When AI systems make mistakes or cause harm, legal liability is unclear because they cannot explain their decision-making processes. Who should be held responsible?
  • Lack of transparency - The complexity of many AI models makes them black boxes, making it hard to fully understand or audit their decision-making processes. This is concerning especially for critical applications like self-driving cars.

AI also presents new opportunities to empower women, especially in emerging economies. For example, AI-enabled education platforms are making learning more accessible to girls and women who face barriers to schooling. Chatbots are enabling women entrepreneurs in developing nations to get business advice and services more readily. AI-driven healthcare diagnosis and monitoring tools can provide women with better access to doctors and health services. Technologies like natural language processing are also preserving indigenous languages and knowledge often passed down by women. While the gender gap in AI fields remains wide, more initiatives to increase women's roles as AI researchers, designers and users will be important to create a more equitable future. Overall, AI done right can be a democratizing force for women's empowerment globally.

Improved healthcare - AI is supporting doctors by analyzing medical images and scans with greater speed and accuracy to assist with diagnosis and treatment planning. AI chatbots and virtual health assistants are making basic health services more accessible. Machine learning aids researchers in analyzing large volumes of health data to detect diseases earlier and develop more effective, personalized treatments. For example, AI has proven effective at detecting cancers, predicting heart attacks, and optimizing medication dosages. AI is also being used in innovative ways to restore capabilities to patients. Recently, a combination of a brain implant and AI allowed a woman with paralysis to regain her ability to speak.

How a Brain Implant and AI Gave a Woman with Paralysis Her Voice Back:

AI is also creating disruptions in established creative fields like filmmaking. Advances in AI-generated art, audio and video content are allowing productions to cut costs by replacing human creatives with algorithmically-produced content. For example, AI-generated voice actors and visual effects artists are entering the film and TV industry. While these tools can boost efficiency, they also threaten the livelihoods of many human artists and technicians. Labor unions like SAG-AFTRA have expressed concerns about emerging technologies diminishing opportunities for performers. The studios' increasing reliance on AI may greatly reduce the need for studios to hire human creators and performers protected by unions.

There are complex questions around how to integrate AI tools ethically and equitably into creative fields like cinema. More transparency and retraining programs will be needed to transition displaced artists and technicians as these technologies reshape the film industry.

AI holds great promise, but also poses risks if governance and ethics do not keep pace with technological advances. Thoughtful frameworks to direct research and business applications are needed to maximize benefits while minimizing harms. The debate around AI regulation is just getting started.



© Video Adama Toulon - created with AI

© Article by Adama Toulon (with AI) - shared with FCEM World Congress - 2023