IBM is in Washington, D.C., this week to make the case to federal government officials that artificial intelligence isn’t going to steal jobs from humans.
According to a report in Recode, IBM argues a lot of the criticism being lodged at machine learning, robotics and artificial intelligence is equivalent to fear mongering. David Kenny, senior vice president for IBM’s supercomputer Watson, plans on getting the word out to members of Congress that ignoring AI would be the real disaster.
Recode noted that despite IBM’s stance, data released in recent months suggests economic consequence with entire industries being displaced when mass market AI arrives — and it’s not just blue-collar jobs that are at risk. Stock trading and other white collar jobs could also be replaced by robots or other AI technology. Another concern among lawmakers is that privacy, security and safety could be compromised as more tasks become automated. The scariest theorized outcome of AI is that robots could destroy humans.
“The impact of AI is evident in the debate about its societal implications — with some fearful prophets envisioning massive job loss or even an eventual AI ‘Overlord’ that controls humanity,” Kenny wrote in a letter to lawmakers. “I must disagree with these dystopian views.”
The report pointed out that some of the biggest challenges facing the mass rollout of AI are political. Take self-driving cars, for example. In order for the vehicles to take to the roads, the process need permission from both local and federal regulators, may of which have just started slackening their rules. Lawmakers are also concerned automation could result in discrimination, a concern shared by former President Barack Obama.
Obama’s White House argued powerful algorithms could share the biases of those that create them, resulting in unfair treatment of minorities. In October, the White House asked Congress to help hire more AI specialists to take on government oversight roles. Kenny told lawmakers in his letter that like cyber security and medicine, humans can “choose the best course of action when an AI system has identified a problem.” He argued the government should focus on fixing a “shortage of workers with the skills needed to work in partnership with AI systems.”