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11 May 2023 • 4 min read

AI Future Trends: Key Insights from a Cambridge Professor

Braden Dawson

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Renowned AI ethicist Dr. Jonnie Penn provided an engaging presentation at the Future State conference that took place at Auckland's SparkArena. Dr. Penn sheds light on the fascinating field of artificial intelligence. We had the honour of learning from Dr. Penn, a renowned professor of AI ethics and society at the University of Cambridge. Here is what we learnt.

Jonnie Penn AI Expert

Understanding AI and Machine Learning

Dr. Penn started out by giving a straightforward example to explain the idea of AI. He described an exciting experiment in which a machine learning algorithm used pattern recognition to master the game Space Invaders. This served as an example of how AI, in particular machine learning, is excellent at identifying patterns on a large scale. It is crucial to remember that these algorithms are purely based on statistical patterns and lack cognitive understanding.

The Development of Generative AI

Dr. Penn continued by discussing how generative AI has advanced, notably in the field of graphics. He demonstrated how algorithms have advanced to the point where they can produce celebrities who don't exist. This development created new opportunities for sectors of the economy that rely on models and human likenesses.

The topic of language models such as ChatGPT and their capacity to produce text in varied circumstances was then discussed. The ability of these models to offer guidance, whether it be for medical needs, social media marketing, or creative endeavours, was stressed by Dr. Penn. But as these models are unlicensed practitioners, using only their output can result in inaccurate information.

Investigating Generative Video and Audio

Dr. Penn provided an overview of the recently developed topic of generative video and audio, demonstrating how algorithms may imitate the voices and etiquette of well-known people. He drew attention to the moral issues raised by these capabilities and issued a warning about possible abuse by giving examples of harmful deep-fake films.

The Promise and Challenges of Synthetic Data

Another topic of interest was synthetic data, which is made up of data that doesn't actually exist but is inferred from existing data. Dr. Penn provided instances of how machine learning algorithms can imitate real-world situations and fill in gaps in Google Maps' street views. He also spoke about the need to address how AI is affecting the environment, emphasising the massive carbon footprint that comes with sophisticated language models.

Dr. Penn argued that rather than merely seeing AI as a catalyst for an increase in intellect, we should also see it as a catalyst for an increase in creativity. He emphasised the significance of realising that AI tools are effective tools for human use and not sentient entities. He promoted the idea of REST engineering, which calls for deliberate pauses and the selective use of AI, in order to produce a sustainable and balanced integration of technology in society.

Addressing Challenges and Ensuring Responsible Use

Dr. Penn spoke about the difficulties brought on by ambiguous ownership, ambiguous outputs, liability concerns, and malevolent use of AI. He emphasised the requirement for AI ethics and legislative measures to address bias, accountability, and transparency. He gave examples of how communities and businesses have taken proactive measures to ensure responsible AI adoption, such as passing laws banning facial recognition technology.

Finding the Right Balance

Dr. Penn stressed the need to strike the proper balance between technological breakthroughs and human experiences in his concluding remarks. He challenged people and society to consider integrating current and upcoming advances and to evaluate whether digital technologies have reached equilibrium. We can take advantage of AI's promise while upholding human values and well-being by embracing REST and concentrating on straightforward, meaningful solutions.

In summary, Dr. Jonnie Penn's captivating lecture at the Future State conference raised our awareness of the enormous opportunities and difficulties provided by AI. It is vital that we approach this game-changing technology with serious thought, moral principles, and a dedication to creating a future that strikes a balance between progress and the preservation of our humanity.