|Published : 12 Oct 2016, 18:27:10|
UK calls for task force to keep AI, robots in check
While artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics are starting to play a more valuable role in people's lives, a new report states that the UK is ill-prepared for an inevitable autonomous future.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee said today that the UK government "does not yet have a strategy" for fostering AI and robotics or properly considered the "social and ethical dilemmas" they may pose.
Ministers found that while such systems are still in their infancy, AI is already starting to have "transformational impacts" on society, suggesting now is the time to evaluate possible the potential ramifications of its growth.
The report touches on the development of driverless cars and emergence of supercomputers that can beat world champions at an ancient Chinese board game and questions whether the government has a plan for when "algorithms" go wrong.
"Artificial intelligence has some way to go before we see systems and robots as portrayed in the creative arts such as Star Wars," says Dr Tania Mathias, interim Chair of the Committee. "At present, 'AI machines' have narrow and specific roles, such as in voice-recognition or playing the board game 'Go'. But science fiction is slowly becoming science fact, and robotics and AI look destined to play an increasing role in our lives over the coming decades."
The Committee calls upon the government to set up a "Commission on Artificial Intelligence" that can be housed at the Alan Turing Institute. It would be tasked with monitoring the developments in AI systems and would set standards to ensure they're "socially beneficial."
The group highlighted Google's Photos app, which was reported to have labelled black people as gorillas, as a situation where AI may have been fed "subconscious cultural biases." While it could be put down to the training data the Photos algorithms were fed, the Committee says more work must be done to stop accidental discrimination.
The UK has helped drive innovations in the space -- thanks to companies like DeepMind (now owned by Google), Magic Pony (now owned by Twitter) and Swiftkey (now owned by Microsoft) -- but it's up to the government to ensure that AI systems, no matter how small, are created with a social framework that doesn't negatively affect the people they're are supposed to benefit,” according to media reports.