AI – Where to next?

By | March 5, 2019

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Hyperboles and fear-mongering aside, in few years the reach and pace of AI adoption in all aspects of our lives and business will accelerate. We are fast approaching the hype phase where plastering AI, in bold letters, on a slide deck will pique VC interest and unlock some funding. Use of AI will be touted as a differentiator by companies, no matter how rudimentary its use or none at all.

In this closing blog of my series on AI, I’d like to posit handful of topics where AI/ML can help humanity at large. The challenge, as usually is with AI/ML, is to get large and diverse enough data-set for training and validation.

Assange AI: AI can do more than what Julian Assange could do with WikiLeaks. Think about it for a moment. What if every political decision and action is analyzed to identify potential beneficiaries of that decision and the information is available for the public to view, evaluate and comment upon? For the fearsome, it may introduce analysis-paralysis but for others it will force a level of transparency that will do wonders to clean up the political shenanigans around the world; especially in countries where corruption is rampant.

Fact Checker AI: If there were a trusted source-of-truth, it’ll put an end to rumor mongering at the very least if not more. With growing influence of social and digital media, this can be a paid-for service that the likes of Facebook, Twitter, CNN, NYT and others can subscribe to. In fact, I’m sure many companies and individuals would love to subscribe to such a service. The key challenge here would be to make sure that the algorithms do not have a bias of their own and it’s all transparent for everyone to review.

This does not need to be limited to news. It can be extended to highlight the ‘sponsors’ of various studies that influence public behaviors. For example, ‘Red wine helps fight cancer’… was this study paid for and sponsored by the wine industry through three layers of separation?

Drain-the-swamp AI: President Trump used this term to describe the collusion between industry and administration to influence the policy and decision making by the lobbyists. It has become a global trend that retired bureaucrats from various government offices become the middlemen between the industry big-wigs and the lawmakers to help introduce or stall or tweak policies that would benefit their pay-masters. While some of the politicians may get influenced by the compelling arguments made by these lobbyists, few get influenced by the money that finds its way into trust funds and other financial promissory notes that secures their retirement. An AI to show the linkage and money-trail or pattern of influence can bring transparency to public policy and reduce, as much as possible, the crony-capitalism that appears to be taking root around the world.

Mango-people AI: A very desi (East Indian) term to describe ‘common people’ or the ‘John Doe’. This AI would identify the rules and policies that do not provide a leveling field between an individual or small business versus the top 1% or large businesses. For example, the capital gains or estate tax rebates or reduced tax rates are favorable to the uber-rich and have zero impact to a working family living paycheck-to-paycheck. If a small business goes to the city and promises to create three jobs and asks for a tax rebate, will be mocked at; while a big business worth billions of dollars comes to the city with a promise of five-thousand jobs will be given the red-carpet treatment. If the AI can identify and make visible all such discrepancies (including hidden kick-backs) in various laws and policies, the democracies around the world will become what they promise to be – for the people, by the people and of the people.

As I said in my first blog in this series, AI got me excited the way Internet did in 1995. Being an incurable optimist, I see the brighter side than the darker side. I’m sure that it’ll be put to bad use by some, but I’m sure that the positive use will prevail or may not

If someone takes upon to work on any of my ideas, I’d like to be part of the effort. I’d like to be there to experience it first-hand!

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