I don’t know exactly how the stock market works. I don’t fully understand how and why countries print money. Maybe its ok for me not to know these things, after all I am not a fund manager nor an economist and thankfully its not my day job to know these things. Not knowing these things doesn’t erode my quality of life either financially or socially. In fact, if I knew such things I might be more miserable! If I knew such things I’d invest in the stock market and want to track it everyday and each time my investment went down I’d worry, and celebrate every time it went up. Too much drama.
Then I asked myself, does knowing or not knowing such things affect my day to day life? Will I be penalised for not knowing? Will I be at a disadvantage? I will be at a disadvantage as its widely known that investing in index funds in the longer term is a safe strategy to grow wealth. But not knowing doesn’t affect my today, it affects my tomorrow. So am I making a case for ‘ignorance is bliss?’
No. I hope not, I am making the case for knowing vs. not knowing what affects your day to day. Which brings me to the point of this note. AI.
I work with AI everyday, it is my day job. I build AI products working alongside incredibly smart people who do the incredibly hard math required to do AI. They do the math, I do everything else. It’s a sweet gig. I wouldn’t trade this for anything, even knowing how the stock markets work or even knowing why countries print money. I don’t need to trade places. I can predict (not very well admittedly) which stock will go up or down using AI. In the past I’ve helped predict which customers are about to churn in the next 90 days. I’ve predict what kind of document a pdf file is, without knowing anything about it. AI can do this and much more.
Just look around you. You’re surrounded by AI. After the industrial revolution, the big data explosion AI is the most important technological revolution you should know about. AI augments the human experience in domains such as healthcare by detecting cancer more accurately and far faster than humans can.
AI can drive a car (not as well as humans you may argue, but humans perfected this skill over 100s of years; AI has been at it only for the last 5 years). AI is everywhere augmenting the human experience, assisting police to identify criminals through facial recognition technology. In today’s world it can alert if you’ve not maintained social distancing or if you’ve not worn a face mask. You should know what AI is, and how AI works because it may affect your job. It certainly will affect your kids’ jobs.
AI is increasingly prevalent in our day to day lives, replacing cognitive ability and disrupting 100,000s of humans. From predicting the next word or phrase in Gmail, to having a box answer your question. All this has been done largely without the wider world’s input and knowledge. In days to come, AI is going to become more and entrenched in our day to day lives, and in most cases more beneficially than harmfully. From my personal experience I can say that consumers of AI not knowing how AI works, is bad for us (those creating AI). If people know how AI works they can be involved in the conversation, which will only help us make AI better. It takes incredibly skilled people in math to build good, ethical AI products. It takes incredibly ‘human’ humans to help them.
Outside of work, at conferences, lectures and workshops, I’ve interacted with professionals, college and school students, helping demystify AI in the USA and now in the UK. I’ve realised it’s not enough. The most important question in building products is ‘how do I make this repeatable and scalable?’ I’ve pondered the same question about demystifying AI. Another important lesson I’ve learnt at work is that for anything to be successful, the change must be embedded locally and must be facilitated locally. By which I mean that in order to help students succeed I can’t teach them all, instead I can teach the teacher who in turn can teach the students. In this journey of demystifying AI I’ve sought scalable ways to educate the world about AI and hence I’ve joined We and AI as its AI Technology and Ethics advisor bringing to bear my expertise.
It took a village of incredibly smart people to build AI, at We and AI I am joined by incredibly smart people who represent their area of work very well. I am hoping that through my knowledge and experience I can inform my peers to understand AI better and in turn empower themselves and their community with new-found knowledge. I remember the joy I felt 6 years when I could apply the equation of straight line to solving a linear regression problem! I hope to deliver such moments of joy to my peers and through them to world of discovering how AI works. Knowing is better than not knowing. Knowing is empowering. We can do AI better.