February 8, 2024

A.I. is Not All It’s Cracked Up to Be…At Least Not Yet!

By Mark Pound

Exploring AI’s Potential: The Gap Between Aspiration and Reality

Recently Samsung releases its new Galaxy S24 phone  The big buzz is centered around how Galaxy users discover the world around them by incorporating AI (artificial intelligence) into photo manipulation, product searches for e-commerce, and much more. This is just one example of people getting excited over AI, but the truth is it’s hard to go anywhere these days without hearing someone talk about it. There’s no doubt that artificial intelligence will transform the way we work and live, and there’s no denying its power and potential. But the fact is despite what most people want to believe what AI is and can do, we’re just not there yet.

As the founder of a digital accessibility company who is disabled and has challenges completing many everyday tasks that most people take for granted, there isn’t a bigger fan of AI than me. I have big hopes for it and in time, I know it will succeed. I’m also a realist, and I know that time isn’t now.

AI has made significant strides in recent years, with advancements in machine learning, natural language processing and computer vision. However, despite these breakthroughs, AI still has a long way to go before reaching its full potential. In fact, there are numerous challenges and limitations that hinder the development and deployment of AI systems that no one wants to publicly address. Until we do, there’s no room for this technology to mature.

One of the primary challenges in AI is the lack of common sense reasoning. While AI models excel at specific tasks, they often struggle to understand context, make sense of ambiguous situations or possess the innate understanding that humans have. This limitation hampers their ability to perform tasks that require a deep comprehension of the real world.

AI can only be as good as the information it is given. You may have heard the saying, “Garbage in. Garbage out.” AI systems are data-driven, and if that data is skewed, incorrect or biased, the AI models will inherit and perpetuate these mistakes. Issues related to fairness, transparency, and accountability are significant concerns. In fact, a study by Ilia Shumailov, a machine learning researcher at the University of Oxford, found this to be the case, especially as AI content becomes so heavily used and loses the diversity that is distinctive about human data. Shumailov said, “It’s quite clear that the future is the models becoming more biased. Explicit effort needs to be put in order to curtail it.

The ethical implications of AI are also a growing concern. Questions surrounding privacy, security, and the responsible use of AI raise complex ethical dilemmas. Striking a balance between innovation and safeguarding against potential harm is crucial, and the lack of universally accepted ethical guidelines poses a challenge.

Many AI models, especially deep learning ones, are often seen as “black boxes” due to their complexity. Understanding how these models arrive at specific decisions is crucial, especially in applications where transparency is essential. Developing methods to make AI systems more explainable and interpretable remains an active area of research.

Training advanced AI models requires significant computational resources and energy consumption. This not only raises environmental concerns but also limits the accessibility of AI technologies in resource-constrained environments. Developing more energy-efficient algorithms and infrastructure is vital for the sustainable growth of AI.

While AI models may perform well in controlled environments, adapting to real-world scenarios with unpredictable variables is a significant challenge that still needs considerable attention. Handling dynamic and evolving situations, such as changes in weather, unexpected events, or novel situations, remains a hurdle for AI systems.

AI development requires expertise from various disciplines, including computer science, neuroscience, psychology, and ethics. Fostering effective interdisciplinary collaboration is essential for overcoming the multifaceted challenges that AI presents.

The takeaway

I can’t wait for the day that AI gets to where it fully enhances the way we live and work, but that day isn’t today. It won’t be next month or next year, either. We’ve only begun to scrape the surface. To celebrate AI as this life-changing technology that’s revolutionizing a new mobile device or anything else is irresponsible and nothing more than marketing hype. Consumers see a new phone with built-in AI and think they need it, yet most couldn’t explain why or tell you how or if it will differ from their current device.

In order for AI to truly reach its full potential will take researchers, developers, policymakers and ethicists to work collaboratively to navigate the complex landscape of AI development, ensuring that it evolves responsibly and ethically. Only through concerted efforts and further development can we pave the way for AI to make a lasting, positive impact on society, the way everyone imagines.

By Mark Pound

Mark Pound

Mark Pound is the founder and CEO of CurbcutOS, a digital accessibility firm making the digital world more user-friendly for people with disabilities.
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