AI’s Real Issues Aren’t Like the Movie Plots

Maran Nelson, Co-founder and CEO of Clara Labs, said in The Verge that the issues the public should most be concerned about when it comes to AI are the ones that are far more subtle than those portrayed in the movies, which scare us with “terminators” and technology that manipulates humans and commit violence against us, like in Ex Machina.

Instead, more mundane issues that are already affecting us, others that aren’t so predictable and many which may not occur until years in the future are the ones that may have the deepest impact on daily life and the world around us, Nelson said.

The character Ava from Ex Machina.

For instance, AI-sourced articles contributed to Russian propaganda going viral on Facebook during the 2016 Presidential elections, for instance, and contributed to the 2008 financial crisis when predictive models were far from accurate.

“It’s important always to give the user greater control and greater visibility than they had had before you implemented systems like this,” Nelson says. And yet, increasingly, AI is designed to make decisions for users without asking them first.

Nelson’s company makes a virtual assistant that schedules meetings for people, but as nonthreatening as that sounds, she still found that “a human in the loop” was needed so that AI could understand the meaning behind most conversations. The full interview and discussion of sci fi story lines is available as a podcast.