Friday, January 12, 2024

Artificial Intelligence: The Good News

Since June I have been expressing generally contrarian views on AI, that it will not fulfill the concerns and expectations it has gathered since its February news explosion.  As always, there are many facets of its progress.  What are some of the favorable ones from the past month?

In Fox News on December 20th, Melissa Rudy published “Artificial intelligence experts share 6 of the biggest AI innovations of 2023: ‘A landmark year.’”  The advances, all medical-related, were “ChatGPT and other generative AI,” the subject of the blitz above which “has revolutionized health care communication by providing tools for personalized treatment plans and remote patient engagement,” though “its responses have sometimes been found lacking in accuracy and thoroughness”; “disease detection through retinal images,” which as of September “excels in diagnosing and predicting both eye diseases and systemic disorders such as heart failure and myocardial infarction”; “improvements to medical productivity,” also in assessing problems using retinal photography; “medical imaging and education” by “faster scanning times, enhanced image resolution and reduced radiation exposure”; “accelerated cancer research” through “using it to find hidden patterns in data, personalize treatment decision-making and help predict treatment benefit”; and “AI medical devices,” at least one-third of 692 AI-incorporating now FDA-approved added since 2022. 

Another new product was the subject of “The next generation of Tesla’s humanoid robot makes its debut” (Kurt Knutsson, Fox News, December 24th).  This automaton “designed to be a general-purpose machine that can assist humans in various domains, such as manufacturing, construction, healthcare and entertainment,” is made up to have an almost-human frame, with hands having “11 degrees of freedom… equipped with tactile sensors and faster actuators, which allow it to manipulate objects with more precision and dexterity” among other refinements.  Overall, per Knutsson, this item “is a stunning example of how far humanoid robotics has come and how far it can go.”

In the December 27th New York Times, Andrew Ross Sorkin took a stab at “What’s next in A.I.?”  He got information from “some of the world’s foremost experts in artificial intelligence,” and used it “to gauge what could be in store for the buzzy technology in the year ahead.”  Yet a section by Vivienne Walt claimed that “if 2023 was the year the world woke up to A.I., 2024 might be the year in which its legal and technical limits will be tested, and perhaps breached.”  Also, “judges and lawmakers will increasingly weigh in,” “some fear overloading A.I. businesses with regulations,” a prediction that “A.I capabilities will soar,” and “billions in investment will be needed.” 

Last, we had a look at “How the Federal Government Can Rein In A.I. in Law Enforcement” (Joy Buolamwini and Barry Friedman, The New York Times, January 2nd).  The problems appear when “law enforcement deploys emerging technologies without transparency or community agreement that they should be used at all, with little or no consideration of the consequences, insufficient training and inadequate guardrails.”  A proposal from the federal Office of Management and Budget states that “agencies must be transparent and provide a public inventory of cases in which A.I. was used,” in which “the risks to individuals… must be identified and reduced.”  However, “there is also a vague exception for “national security,”” which, per the authors, “requires a sharper definition.” 

Artificial intelligence has contributed more than the generally incremental and future-bound achievements here.  Yet it is difficult to tease out what has happened over the past ten months from what was there before and what hasn’t actually happened yet. 

What are less favorable things that have occurred around AI?  That will be the subject of next week’s post.

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