Quelling fears that come with artificial intelligence | AspenTimes.com

Quelling fears that come with artificial intelligence

Kate Wilkins
The Aspen Times
Left to right: Arjun Bansal, vice president of AI software and research at Intel; Falon Fatemi, CEO at Node; Nat Nattarajan, executive VP at Ancestry; and Omoju Miller, machine learning engineer at Github spoke Tuesday in Aspen at the Brainstorm Tech event.
Stuart Isett/Fortune Magazine

The subject of artificial intelligence has been a source of fear for many people in recent years. Tuesday, four tech executives at Brainstorm Tech 2019 set the record straight about the misconceptions surrounding AI, and the positive opportunities it presents for the future of the industry.

Early on during the panel, the topic of ethics in relation to AI was brought up. Omoju Miller, Machine Learning Engineer at Github, made it clear that people outside of the science community need to reframe their mindset about what AI technology is capable of doing, and the purpose it serves to companies.

Miller describes AI, which she calls “machine intelligence,” as simply a tool that operates off statistics. When people voiced concerns about intelligence becoming too human-like, she described the human world as “all shades of gray” adding that humans’ “irrational” nature would be far too complicated to emulate.

She explained that unlike some people’s fear of a global robot takeover, she is more concerned about the impact that people who control the technology have.

Falon Fatemi, founder and CEO at Node, then segued into discussing the importance of ensuring diversity of the employees who collect the data used by artifical intelligence.

She emphasized that if diversity in staff is not made a priority, the information harvested will be biased. Fatemi, whose company recently added investors such as Mark Cuban and Will Smith, said Tuesday that because her company makes diversity a top priority, their technology is “yielding the results it’s set up to serve.”

Later in the session, Nat Nattarajan, executive vice president and chief product and technology officer at Ancestry, was asked about the company’s stance on privacy, a fear shared across the industry by many consumers. He said it all boils down to proper use of the technology.

He explained that while many people think that Ancestry and similar companies sell data, it’s actually used for good, and said the mission of the company revolves around “reuniting families.”

He also made a point to note their “incredibly strict” privacy policy. Nattarajan emphasized that customer approval is required before sharing their data with anyone, even potential family members.

In her closing statement, Fatemi stressed how important AI would be in upcoming years for tech companies, calling it a “wrecking ball to the enterprise for companies that don’t adopt it” adding that companies must “innovate or die.”