Stop Insulting My Artificial Intelligence. Please.

It seems like every company is doing something with Artificial Intelligence these days, right?

Wrong.

A lot of companies are using the term AI to get funding and attention. That’s not real artificial intelligence. Perhaps some sort of human intelligence or just venture capital buzzing. The bad kind.

Seriously though, Artificial Intelligence is great. There’s little academic news about contemporary AI, by the way. The main algorithms in use have been developed in the 60s, 70s, and 80s at the latest.

The real news is with available computing power. In other words, an iPhone can perform AI tasks that required a room sized machine 30 years ago and regular developers can program it. That’s big. Really.

This means developers and entrepreneurs face a lot of great opportunities to innovate and make money. It also means the days of Skynet are not nigh, the end of the world is not approaching and that weapons in the hands of politicians pose a much bigger threat than AI reaching the point of singularity.

It also means AI is still very task driven and is at early stages of getting anywhere beyond. Therefore, not only is traditional data science is very much alive and kicking, but billions of dollars of venture capital money are being washed down the drain as we speak.

Oh, and in the meantime, we are victimized by annoying chatter & people with an urge to sound intelligent. This, perhaps, is the worst.

So when should AI be used, when shouldn’t it, and what are it’s shortcomings? AI’s main strength is with reading, finding and using patterns. The “Intelligence” in AI refers to its ability to mimic human thinking patterns and most importantly retrain itself and improve based on feedback.

AI, when properly used, can help find indicators for further research better than humans. But it cannot conclude very easily, because reading patterns involve another science, one of statistics & probability. In simple words, an AI machine will think very fast, go through millions, billions, even trillions of details very quickly, come up with pattern matching, even reach a probable conclusion faster than any human and the conclusion will most of the time be right.

But many times, the conclusion will be wrong. And this is a critical drawback.

In such cases, the AI engine will need to be retrained. Rigorously. This can be expensive and everlasting, but it will increase the probability of getting things right next time.

But even so, no matter how much we train the machine, many times, the conclusion will still be wrong.

Therefore, AI can provide tremendous diagnostic help, it cannot replace doctors, their decisions and their care-taking.

AI can help a driver avoid countless dangerous situations and save a lot of lives. It cannot drive a car.

Oh, and it won’t be able to drive a car for many years to come. Your kids may need to take their cars in the air to avoid traffic, but they will still require a driving license. Your grandkids, most probably, too.

AI will scan through documents and help lawyers and Judges speed up litigation and legal advice. It will never replace the human sense of justice.

AI can help us direct companies in the right direction and match our investments with our personality. It cannot manage our companies for us or warn us from every human mistake.

AI can help us find inspiring music and texts. Not write Catch 22 or Moonlight Sonata for us.

AI can save us a lot of money. But in some cases, what we need is a simple SQL sentence, some common sense, and the patience required to sit our ass down and think.

And I hope I contributed to that part just a little bit.

Author: Aner Ravon

A technologist with an economists eye for critical thinking. I love building shiny new things and asking tough philosophical questions. I am perfectly comfortable being uncomfortable.