Imagine Ways that Artificial Intelligence Could Change the World
AI is all around us and changing our world—often for the better, but sometimes with unintended consequences. In this activity, you will imagine and explore the potential benefits and dangers of an artificial intelligence solution you imagine. Let your imagination flow and see where it takes you.
- Computer with Internet access to do some web searches
- Pen or pencil
- Look up examples of current AI applications. If this feels too broad, limit the scope to machine learning, facial recognition, or emotion AI applications. Read the Digging Deeper section to learn about these different branches of AI.
- New technology and innovation can create solutions to challenging problems. For example, smart robots can take on dangerous tasks or do jobs where strength, endurance, and problem solving are needed. Facial recognition can increase security, and AI combined with 3D printing can speed up prototyping and production.What AI-driven solution to a problem would you like to study? You can imagine a new AI-driven solution, or you can choose an existing one or one that is under development.
- For your AI-driven solution, briefly write down how you envision this product being beneficial to humans.How might your AI-driven solution serve the people who use it? How would it work, and what problem(s) would it solve?
- New technology and innovation might come with unintended consequences. Smart robots, for example, might be taken over by hackers who could use them to commit crimes. Facial recognition might show bias, as described in the article Racial Discrimination in Face Recognition Technology or in the video Gender Shade, and 3D printing with AI might autonomously start to print dangerous or illegal objects.What are some unexpected uses or unintended consequences that could arise when your AI-driven solution encounters the outside world?
- For your AI-driven solution, write down some of the unintended consequences you thought of in Step 3. If it is hard to find unintended consequences, search the web for "unintended consequences of AI in area that includes your application." For example, search "unintended consequences of AI in medicine" for an AI-driven medical device or "unintended consequences of AI in autonomous vehicles" for a new type of autonomous AI-driven delivery system.
- Use storytelling to share your AI-driven solution with others. Choose a medium such as text, drawings, videos, slides, or collages. Include answers to the following questions.
- What is the AI-driven solution?
- What problem does this AI-driven solution solve?
- How will the AI-driven solution interact with the world?
- How will the solution help people?
- What are some potential unintended consequences, misuses, or dangers to society?
- Find an audience and present your AI-driven solution.How did your audience react to your AI-driven solution?
This activity might have helped you notice that AI is all around you: it automatically tags people in your photos; detects spam in your email; decides what ads you see on social media; and determines what movies, videos, or music appear in your recommendations. You interact with it when you use a smart assistant like Alexa or Siri. One day you may get a ride from a self-driving car. Even if you avoid all of these, the food you eat, the newspaper you read, and the medical treatment you receive are most likely created with the help of an AI-driven solution. AI is changing the world.
Unfortunately, when a new technology or innovation comes into the world, it often comes with unexpected consequences. People find creative and surprising ways to use new capabilities—sometimes to help and sometimes to do harm.
It is not easy to predict how new AI-driven solutions will change our world, but when we carefully consider the possibilities—as you did in this activity—we can see where some problems might arise. Then we can take steps to make our AI-driven solutions safer.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a branch of computer science in which machines are given abilities that resemble human intelligence. Machine learning is a subdivision of AI; its goal is to create machines that can learn and improve over time using data.
Unlike traditional computer programs, where the decisions and rules are built into the program, machine learning programs construct their algorithms from data and feedback. This allows machine learning programs to find trends and patterns in enormous quantities of data—including patterns that are hard for humans to catch. They can also make predictions and improve themselves without human intervention, and they can handle complex, changing environments.
But machine learning has its limitations. It requires a neutral and complete set of data to learn from and it uses a lot of computer power. The results must be reviewed carefully for errors, such as those shown in the video Machine Learning and Human Bias.
One widely used machine learning application is image recognition. In image recognition, a computer learns to classify images by analyzing them and finding patterns. AIs that use image recognition can do many things, like distinguish cancerous from non-cancerous tissue in medical images or recognize a person's face in digital pictures. Interactions with the outside world—for example, a doctor re-classifying an image that the program wrongly classified as cancerous—can help the application refine and improve the accuracy of its algorithm.
With image recognition, the AI develops ways to recognize a person, regardless of age or emotion. With emotion AI, the system develops ways to recognize human emotions, regardless of the person expressing the emotion. These can be emotions expressed in photos, videos, writing, or speech.
There are many more subfields of artificial intelligence: speech recognition, computer vision, and natural language processing are a few more that have widespread applications.
Ask an Expert
For Further Exploration
- Programmers have developed many ways to make machine learning more accessible. Teachable Machine is one. It is a web-based tool that allows users to make a teachable computer program quickly and easily, without programming. It allows users with no computer programming background to experience the power of artificial intelligence. Try it out!
- MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.
- MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.