How Can We Trust AI?

A Look at Why Artificial Intelligence Is Misunderstood Artificial intelligence has been the subject of many stories and movies, and in most cases, it is depicted as being the end of all humanity, both in the sense that it ends human life on Earth and in the sense that it puts a stop to everything humane.

The idea of an AI overruling the world and taking over everything you love can seem scary, especially since it is quite plausible if you don’t look into too much detail. Machines that think and act faster than all of mankind combined? Well, it is easy to notice why the thought of that is terrifying, and why the topic has fascinated Hollywood as well.

In reality, however, Artificial Intelligence is very far from what movies depict it to be.

It is a tool that makes life easier and more beautiful at its very core. How to make sure AI is trustworthy, though?

What are some of the main examples of Artificial Intelligence that do nothing but good to the world and how to understand this technology and phenomena beyond doubting its “intentions”?

We have gathered all the information you need and more, so keep reading if you want to learn about it.

How Has Disney Embraced AI?

Of all the things mankind has created, Disney would seem the furthest from “evil” one could get. So when Disney adopts a technology, you can actually believe that it is for the better of mankind; or, in this case, for the better of releasing movies that please the eye and the soul at the same time. Disney is one of the most important movie making company in the world and one of their major accomplishment is creating movies that are amazing both for kids and their parents alike. Nobody’s allowed to be bored watching a movie and the Disney Company has made sure that this is the motto behind every single movie they have ever released. “Alright”, you may say, “but what does Disney have to do with Artificial Intelligence and why would we even trust this?”.

Artificial Intelligence has become an integral part of how Disney creates the movies we all love so much. Contrary to what some of you might be tempted to believe, Disney has not implemented Artificial Intelligence in the technology that animates their movies, but in the way they analyze their audiences.

More specifically, Disney is planning to implement an Artificial Intelligence technology that will help them better understand their audience’s reactions to their movies. The way this will be done is by using AI to analyze the facial expressions of the audience. This entire project started off in 2015, when Mark Shafer gave a talk on the topic and announced Disney’s intention to invest more in analytics.[1] 

By 2017, they had already developed a technology able to do this in an automatized way: the factorized variational autoencoders (FVAEs). This technology was used to run a research on a theater that included 400 seats, with four infrared cameras to record the audience throughout no less than 150 showings of 9 of Disney’s most famous movies. The study resulted in a dataset that now encompasses 16 million facial landmarks from almost 3,200 audience members. These facial landmarks were added to FVAEs and, as company officials have stated, the technology is so good that it only takes 10 short minutes to predict the audience’s reaction throughout the entire movie. [2] It is worth noting that the initial study that fed the facial landmarks into FVAEs was done with the help of volunteer subjects, not audience members who did not know what was happening.

How Has Lego Embraced AI?

If Disney is far from evil, Lego lies right there next to the cartoon movie giant.

Perhaps the only aspect that could ever be bad about Lego is accidentally stepping on one of their pieces, but other than that, the toys the world has learned to love regardless of age are nothing but fun and educational.

Even more, everything released under the Lego signature brings with it genuine smiles because who is not enchanted by a toy version of the Lord of the Rings and who can hold their grudge against the Joker when he looks like an inoffensive toy?

Same as Disney, Lego too has embraced AI; not necessarily as a strategy to help themselves build better toys (or even better animations), but for the pure purpose of science.

In 2013, a comprehensive study was started to create a robot that would be able to use Lego in an unscripted way, the same way a child would use Lego blocks to build, let’s say, a castle, out of his/ her own imagination. [3]

The endeavor might seem silly at the very most, but it is an important milestone in the development of Artificial Intelligence and robotics. The moment a robot will know not only how to map out the different types of Lego blocks, but also create something out of them without using any kind of instructions, is also the moment robots will be able to take on a wide range of human tasks. This will improve productivity across multiple industries, but it might also put a lot of people out of jobs, raising the question of where AI is going next and whether or not it will actually be the end of the world (as we know it, at least).

Beyond that question, however, it is important to acknowledge the fact that robots capable of building large scale objects on their own could help in a myriad of unfortunate situations, such as the building of a town that was ravished by a natural disaster, for example. It is, thus, essential that we all look at both facets of the Artificial Intelligence outcomes and embrace it as a solution to many problems, and not so much as a cause for the alteration of the economy we live in.

What Is Next for AI – from China to MIT

Some of you may still be skeptical about Artificial Intelligence, and understandably so. Ever since the idea of machines that think faster than humans arose, we have been constantly fed apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic scenarios that build into our greatest fear: the elimination of everything we know.

Artificial Intelligence is far from being on that path, though. If anything, AI makes our lives safer and more qualitative on a wide range of parallels. And no, AI is not implemented in the world of animations only; it is part of our daily lives in more ways than most people imagine.

From the smartphone you might be reading this on, to the machines used to perform highly sensitive brain surgery, AI is part of your life and the life surrounding you too. And it has done nothing but great deeds so far.

Losing control over AI is a scenario as unlikely as taking full control over the rain, it simply cannot happen because there are rules set in place that will prevent man-built machines from taking over.

Yes, Artificial Intelligence has developed at a very speedy pace. From the East to the West and from North to South, AI has grown to be one of the major points of interest for diverse industries, ruled by very diverse legislation too.

China is, perhaps, one of the most significant leaders in AI development in the whole world. What used to be a country where the internet was barely allowed is, these days, the uncrowned King of the Technology Hill.

Chinese products are nowadays less expensive than Western manufactured products and sometimes far more qualitative as well. It used to be that something “made in China” was of a general low quality, but these days, if you look at giant manufacturers, such as Huawei, you will realize that things have drastically changed over the past couple of decades.

In fact, things have changed so much that it is now official: China is leading the world in Artificial Intelligence research and has made advancements more significant than any other country in the world, including the US. From the government to messaging companies in China, such as Tencent, for example, everyone there seems to be looking forward to a whole new world of productivity and innovation.

China’s evolution in the AI sector is all the more staggering since Google has admitted to helping them build Artificial Intelligence [4], while at the same time, they refused to work for the military industry back home, in the United States.

The future of Chinese AI is quite bright, and even more so since funding has been increased in this sector, allowing further research and developments to be made.

Meanwhile, on American grounds, MIT is making significant progress in their quest for Artificial Intelligence as well. In fact, it was at the end of April that they received a $25 million investment from Liberty Mutual, one of the most important investment companies on American soil, to support research in AI.

New discoveries are being made every day, in the West and in the East alike and although it might be decades before we get an Artificial Intelligence maid to take over the dishwashing and the dust cleaning like in The Jetsons, rapid progress is being made.

Who knows? Maybe next time you go to buy a vacuum cleaner it might actually be the robotic maid of your dreams, ready to keep your house sparkly clean and offer you more time with your family!

[2] [3]'_suitability_for_artificial_intelligence_and_robotics_courses_at_the_college_level
[4] Dumont, M. (2019). Is Google a Hypocrite for Developing China’s Artificial Intelligence?.

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