On June 14 and 15, the 2023 AI Summit saw specialists, visionaries, and policymakers descend on the Tobacco Dock in London to discuss every stage of AI advancement.
Here are a few of the key talking points from the two-day event.
Will AI replace workers?
Whether AI will take everyone’s job was high on the agenda. Many believe that AI will relieve pressure in areas where we are struggling to fill jobs or employ people. Some examples given were in the public sector and healthcare. A consensus was reached that it will have the effect of speeding up workers and increasing productivity—so teams may get smaller.
AI could also create jobs in ways we cannot predict. One speaker compared it to the emergence of the internet. Though this technology made travel agents redundant, it made the airline industry expand massively. Generally, it could cause a huge restructuring of society, but this will not happen overnight.
What will the regulatory landscape look like?
It is no secret that everyone is keen that regulation should not stifle innovation. It was raised, however, that a lack of regulation also stifles innovation as there is a huge risk involved in innovating in a largely unregulated space. Many are reluctant to invest and commit to technology for fear that future regulation will come in and disrupt their business. However, there is also a risk of not adopting the technology and falling behind.
Audrey Tang, the Digital Minister of Taiwan, stated that regulation should focus on trust and that we need to ensure there is neither an erosion of trust nor a misplacement of trust. Laurence Moroney, AI advocacy Lead at Google, highlighted that “AI is a concept”. You cannot regulate a concept and you must define it specifically.
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Some suggested that regulations should be application and sector-specific, as most regulatory fields are, like healthcare or banking. Some foresee a licensing system surrounding AI where your model must adhere to certain standards to run (much like pharmaceuticals). Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of talk around the ongoing EU AI Act, which on Wednesday, 14 June was voted in favour of by MEPs in Brussels. Many believe that this will have a similar effect to the GDPR and will have an international influence.
Has Generative AI been over hyped?
Artificial intelligence has been hyped because various stakeholders will benefit from this hype. One way to generate and maintain hype is scaremongering. The media also likes scaremongering because it famously generates a lot of engagement. As a result, we are currently in the stage of the hype cycle called ‘inflated expectations’.
The AI summit demonstrated a trend, which was that those with limited knowledge of AI are of the camp that has knee-jerk reactions and fears AI will cause an apocalypse in the near future. Those with practical and technical experience of the technology are generally much more aware of its limitations and are trying to respond to developments in a measured way, with appropriate guardrails in place. One way to reduce hysteria in the media was the call to stop the personification of AI. For example, referring to AI ‘hallucinations’, which is a fundamentally human phenomenon.
The main takeaway around this at the summit was the recommendation to educate yourself on the limitations and possibilities, as the faster you work your way through the hype cycle, the faster you can use the technology to be productive. Right now, the best applications for generative AI are chatbots and summarizing text. Generative AI allows for easier access to information and more use cases will emerge as the accuracy rates increase.
The next industrial revolution
The final takeaway was the belief that AI will enable us to go through the next industrial revolution. It will be the key facilitator of the digital world becoming seamless with reality and the three things needed for this are generalized AI, data sharing, and digital identities.
Technology is exponential. Moore’s law, cloud computing spending, and quantum qubits all prove this. And AI is no exception. AI will be developed exponentially, so it is important we have a measured, innovative, educated, calm, and cautionary approach.