What is the future of AI? The experts’ view

Four AI experts weigh in on what the future holds for AI and related technologies

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Prof. Marie des Jardins, Rob Meadows, DR. Georgios Tsatsaronis and Prof. Barry O'Sullican at the AAAI 219 Conference (Montage by Alison Bert)

Artificial Intelligence and related fields like deep learning and machine learning have come to dominate discussions about where our society is headed, with debate often polarised between declaring AI to be the savior of society or its potential downfall.

The truth lies somewhere in the middle: AI won’t destroy our civilization, but we can’t cede responsibility for saving it to AI, either. In any case, AI-related technologies are versatile and powerful and can provide the basis for change in our world. We caught up with some leading experts in the field to ask them for their view on the future of AI.


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Prof. Barry O’Sullivan, University College Cork, Ireland: “A fairer society”

Prof. Barry O’Sullivan is Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, Computer Science, at University College Cork, Ireland. He says:

“I think 20 years from now, if we have technologies that can create a fairer, more accessible society, if we have tools that are eliminating bias in society, ensuring that everyone has equal access to healthcare, to education, so that society is equitable from an economic point of view, then that will be huge. And people are working on those kinds of technologies. Ai could be something that democratizes the world.”

Prof. Marie desJardins, Simmons University: “We need to look at integrated intelligence in technology”

Prof. Marie desJardins is Dean of the College of Organizational, Computational, and Information Sciences at Simmons University, Boston. She says:

“We’ve seen a huge growth in the last 5 to 10 years in the visibility and the popular press and in the economy of artificial intelligence and especially deep learning. I’m part of an NSF-funded initiative to develop a 20-year roadmap for AI, so I’ve been having a lot of conversations about that. We’ve had a lot of panel discussions and interviews about the future of AI.

“I think we’re at a great time in the development of AI, but we need to be careful that we don’t get too caught up in the hype of things that have been very successful but which may be limited in what they can accomplish from here. One of the things that we’ve been talking about is the need for integrated intelligence – not just machine learning systems but autonomous reasoning systems that can integrate a lot of knowledge, that can interact with humans, and that can bring contextual information to bear on big problems.”

Dr. Georgios Tsatsaronis,Elsevier: “AI that understands your questions”

Dr. Georgios Tsatsaronis is Principal NLP Scientist at Elsevier. He says:

“One of the major developments is that we now have machine learning tools that can deliver a high-quality algorithm. We’re going to see revolutionary applications for these techniques as they’re used to crack new problems in AI. For example, we’ll see question and answering techniques, where you can tap in a natural language question these techniques will synthesize an answer for our users. So in short, we’re going to see revolutionary applications applying some of the new techniques in these use cases.

Rob Meadows, AI Foundation: “General intelligence and a new society”

Rob Meadows is founder of the AI Foundation, Originate and Lumitrend. He says:

“I think we’re on a path to more interesting narrow solutions in AI that solve problems that traditionally humans have not enjoyed solving and open the door to problems that humans have not been able to solve. As we glue together more and more narrow solutions, we’re on a good path to general intelligence. That then starts to open up questions around creativity and things that we’ve traditionally thought only intelligent human beings can do. It’s going to prompt us to ask, ‘What does society look like in this world?’

“It’s an exciting problem, and we’re very optimistic for the future of humanity, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.”

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