The Evolution of AI

I saw a study recently where an AI system was used to analyze code and trying to decide if authors were good. The conclusions were things we’d expect, and quite a few people laughed about this on Twitter. After all, if AI comes to the obvious answer, is it useful? Perhaps, but it’s also a little disappointing.

I’ve felt that way about AI for some time. Years ago I went through an AI demo for the Titantic data set, coming to the conclusion that the lower you were in the ship, or poorer, the more likely you were to have died. I went through a tutorial with Microsoft on flight data, trying to determine why flights were late. It turned out the later they left, the more likely they were to be late arriving.

While this might seem silly, and perhaps obvious, I think that’s OK. We don’t expect these early AI systems to be better than humans, at least I don’t. However, what I do expect is that they can do at least as well as humans, and having them return results that we could figure out is a good step. To me, this also gives me confidence that a computer can be used to analyze a complex problem or situation.

There is more evolution coming in the AI and ML worlds. I have no doubt that these systems will improve, and likely find niches where they are valuable and very helpful in making decisions. The world is gathering more and more data, and it’s becoming hard for humans to analyze it, and maybe more importantly, react quickly. The rate at which data can change is overwhelming, especially for humans. I think that we will need computing systems to help process the vast amounts of data we continue to accrue.

While I don’t know that I want AI/ML systems making decisions for me, I do think they can help reduce the burden of looking over data and help humans to better focus their analysis in certain areas. A symbiosis of computing software using AI, data, and a human to closely watch it is what I think will really help us become even more efficient and focused in our particular organization.

Steve Jones

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