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New Report on Progress and Risks of Artificial Intelligence

A new report showed that Artificial Intelligence (AI) has reached a critical turning point in its evolution. Substantial advances in language processing, computer vision and pattern recognition mean that AI is touching people’s lives daily—from helping people to choose a movie to aid in medical diagnoses.

With that success, however, comes a renewed urgency to understand and mitigate the risks and downsides of AI-driven systems, such as algorithmic discrimination or the use of AI for deliberate deception. Computer scientists must work with experts in the social sciences and law to assure that the pitfalls of AI are minimised.

The report – Gathering Strength, Gathering Storms: The One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence (AI100) 2021 Study Panel Report – aims to monitor the progress of AI and guide its future development. This new report, the second to be released by the AI100 project, assesses developments in AI between 2016 and 2021.

In the past five years, AI has leapt from something that mostly happens in research labs or other highly controlled settings to something that is out in society affecting people’s lives. The field is coming to grips with the societal impact of this technology. The next frontier is thinking about ways we can get the benefits from AI while minimising the risks.

– Professor of Computer Science, Brown University

Professor of computer science at the University of Texas said that what makes this report unique is the report is written by AI insiders – experts who create AI algorithms or study their influence on society as their main professional activity—and that they are part of an ongoing, longitudinal, century-long study. It also provides a wonderful template for future study panels to emulate by answering a set of questions that we expect future study panels to reevaluate at five-year intervals.

In terms of AI advances, the panel noted substantial progress across subfields of AI, including speech and language processing, computer vision and other areas. Much of this progress has been driven by advances in machine learning techniques, particularly deep learning systems, which have made the leap in recent years from the academic setting to everyday applications.

In the area of natural language processing, for example, AI-driven systems are now able to not only recognise words but understand how they’re used grammatically and how meanings can change in different contexts. That has enabled better web search, predictive text apps, chatbots and more. Some of these systems are now capable of producing original text that is difficult to distinguish from human-produced text.

Elsewhere, AI systems are diagnosing cancers and other conditions with accuracy that rivals trained pathologists. Research techniques using AI have produced new insights into the human genome and have sped the discovery of new pharmaceuticals. And while the long-promised self-driving cars are not yet in widespread use, AI-based driver-assist systems like lane-departure warnings and adaptive cruise control are standard equipment on most new cars.

Some recent AI progress may be overlooked by observers outside the field, but reflect dramatic strides in the underlying AI technologies, Littman says. One relatable example is the use of background images in video conferences, which became a ubiquitous part of many people’s work-from-home lives during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As reported by OpenGov Asia, in the healthcare field, U.S. Scientists have developed a new, automated, AI-based algorithm that can learn to read patient data from Electronic Health Records (EHR). The scientists, in a side-by-side comparison, showed that their method accurately identified patients with certain diseases as well as the traditional, “gold-standard” method, which requires much more manual labour to develop and perform.

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