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Syed Ridhwaan CSE424

Contemporary Issues Essay: Artificial Intelligence

The exciting area of artificial intelligence has exploded within the last couple decades. The idea of
intelligent machines has been around for a very long time. The idea of artificial intelligence, intelligent
agents that humans have designed to do tasks, appeals to many people, while others approach the
concept with much caution and sometimes fear. There are many pieces and areas in the field of
artificial intelligence, both in its applications and its societal impact.

The last 10 years have been about building a world that is mobile-first. In the next 10 years, we will
shift to a world that is AI-first.- Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google, October 2016

The first industrial revolution utilized steam for production, the second industrial revolution utilized
electricity for production, and the third utilized electronics and information. Some have proposed that
artificial intelligence is the 4th industrial revolution1. With revolution, of course, comes change, were
going to explore a couple of specific areas being strongly affected by artificial intelligence: medicine,
autonomous vehicles, racism, and economy. Through these examples we would like to ask ourselves
whether or not artificial intelligence technology benefits society, or whether its cons outweigh its
There are a variety of artificial intelligence tools being developed in the medical field to help
diagnose disease. Over 40,000 people die every year in the US due to a misdiagnosis2. With thousands
of known human diseases, failure to correctly diagnose is inevitable from a human perspective. But
what if there was a machine that could take all your symptoms, compute the most likely causes and
diagnose you? Possibly even preventing a future medical emergency from occurring. This is what Ali
Parsa, a British innovator has come up with and its changing the way patients are treated. Babylon3, is
a U.K. based health service that allows users to report symptoms and find a best course of medical
action (due to legal constraints they are only allowed to recommend and not make formal diagnosis's).
The system is able to analyze millions of combinations against its evolving database, taking into
account factors like the users genetics and behaviors. There are however many doubts about using these
technologies in the medical field. Artificial intelligence itself is not always accurate, and the fact that

1 "The Fourth Industrial Revolution: What It Means, How to Respond." World Economic Forum Annual Meeting,
n.d. Web.
2 Winters, Bradford, Jason Custer, Samuel M. Galvagno, Elizabeth Colantuoni, Shruti G. Kapoor, HeeWon Lee, Victoria Goode,
Karen Robinson, Atul Nakhasi, Peter Pronovost, and David Newman-Toker. "Diagnostic Errors in the Intensive Care Unit: A
Systematic Review of Autopsy Studies." BMJ Qual Saf. BMJ Publishing Group Ltd, 01 Nov. 2012. Web. 14 Mar. 201 7.
3 Parkin, Simon. "Would You Trust Your Medical Diagnosis to a Robot? You May Soon Get the Chance to Find out." MIT
Technology Review. MIT Technology Review, 09 Mar. 2016. Web. 14 Mar. 2017.
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the diagnosis is no longer within the domain of a person, can be problematic. Take for example a
confused patient who may need the filter and probing of a skilled doctor to really find out whats going
on, versus filling out a questionnaire. Is it ethical to trust an artificial intelligence system to be able to
take in human variation when coming to decisions? A simple change of perceptions of a patients
symptoms can potentially drastically change the results of a diagnosis. This is where we fall into one of
the first issues of AI. Its imperfectness and inability to think like a human. Ideally we want artificial
intelligence to be completely accurate, how often can we trust an artificial intelligence system against a
trained professional?. This has been a large debate in the artificial intelligence community and any
community whos existence artificial intelligence threatens. I believe that the use of artificial
intelligence technologies in the medical field is inevitable as these technologies are simply able to do
useful tasks and analysis that can definitely be utilized by professionals. Artificial intelligence is an
incredible tool. A dramatic image that artificial intelligence often paints, is the total takeover of our jobs
by humanoid robots. Very often artificial intelligence is simply a useful tool. Take Dr Barani for
examples whos using deep-learning algorithms to examine scans of patient lungs.

Red blobs flicker on the screen as Enlitics deep-learning system examines and compares them to see
if they are blood vessels, harmless imaging artifacts or malignant lung nodules. The system ends up
highlighting a particular feature for further investigation. In a test against three expert human
radiologists working together, Enlitics system was 50% better at classifying malignant tumours and
had a false-negative rate (where a cancer is missed) of zero, compared with 7% for the humans.4

Artificial intelligence is being used as a time saving and ultra accurate tool by doctors here in order to
make better diagnoses.
This brings us into another major corner of the artificial intelligence worlds, autonomous
vehicles. A Google self driving Lexus SUV caused a crash on valentines day in Mountain View
California. It detected a pile of sandbags, and as it attempted to dodge it, it collided with the side of a
bus5. Lets consider on a given day how many people are involved in a crash due to human error versus
a self-driving car. According to a study by Virginia Tech Transportation Institute,Googles Self-Driving
Cars were safer on the road than humans were. The Virginia Tech study estimated that people-driven
cars had 4.2 crashes every million miles while self-driving cars found themselves at a crash every 3.2
million miles. The artificial intelligence technology in this application has reached a point where it is
4 "Automation and Anxiety." The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 25 June 2016. Web. 15 Mar. 2017.
5 Iozzio, Corinne. "Who's Responsible When a Self-Driving Car Crashes?" Scientific American. N.p., 08 Apr. 2016. Web. 14 Mar.
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safer than the average human performing the same task. The application of self-driving cars is huge and
increases the quality of life for many people. Take for example those who are physically not able to
drive such as patient who are prone to seizures or the elderly. With autonomous vehicles they are able
to access much more of the world and live more freely. Autonomous cars also simultaneously decrease
carbon emissions, reduce trip times and reduce traffic. The convenience and service that autonomous
vehicles bring is a huge benefit to society.
Weve highlighted the usefulness of two huge sectors: the medical sector and the
transportation/automotive sector. In these two field it seems to be clear that there are incredible benefits
to having artificial intelligence technologies utilized. However a 4th industrial revolution does not come
without drawbacks. Im going to highlight the remaining two sectors in order to show some of the large
issues being discussed in artificial intelligence both within economy and race.
One of the big advantages of artificial intelligence tech, is that it is able to automate routine
tasks. If a task has no serious complexity, if it is able to be predicted there is potential that the job can
be automated. Even complex tasks like driving are able to be automated by artificial intelligence tech
as mentioned before. You may have already seen the friendly faces of the people who once took your
fast food orders be replaced by kiosks. Its a reality that many people have jobs that are simple to

In a widely noted study published in 2013, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne examined the
probability of computerisation for 702 occupations and found that 47% of workers in America had jobs
at high risk of potential automation. In particular, they warned that most workers in transport and
logistics (such as taxi and delivery drivers) and office support (such as receptionists and security
guards) are likely to be substituted by computer capital4

We can already see the affects of this in many industries, the transportation business being one of them.
Uber for example is currently developing entire fleets of self driving cars for their transportation
services. Theres an entire economy behind these services and AI is completely disrupting its flow.
People who were once needed, valued and paid are being replaced by AI. There are a significant
amount of people out there who depend on these jobs to provide for themselves and their dependents. If
AI replaces them they may not have any alternatives.
There are multiple historical events that have happened during various technological
revolutions that may shed light as to how the unfolding of the AI revolution may go. Predictions that:
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advances in automation and machinery would put people out of work have been here for quite a while.
Take for example the Luddites who protested the machines and steam engines during the industrial
revolution, once those were built they were out of work. The Luddites went as far as organizing
machine-wrecking raids. The Luddites of the early 1800s were not at all against technological
advances but they simply needed options to be able to continue to sustain themselves6. A second
example of this would be during the 1960s when robots started to be used more heavily in factories
and computers in offices. John F. Kennedy was the president at the time and made it a priority to
maintain full employment at a time when automationis replacing men. Both these examples seem
to theorize that our shift through the AI revolution to be a negative one. One in which well see
crushed bits of robots at the hands of the Luddites and Kennedy rising from his grave to lead the
resistance. But fortunately this does not seem to be the case. Its not an obvious phenomena, but these
past major industrial revolutions have a non-obvious effect. They actually end up creating more jobs in
the long run
For example during the industrial revolution a significant percentage of the weaving process
became automated and because of this many started to worry. But due to all these new machines
existing, they required upkeep to keep running smoothly. This caused the output of cloth production to
be 50 times as much. In turn the required labor for cloth fell by 98%, making the cloth cheaper and
increasing demand, which then created even more jobs.4 Another example of the adaptation of the
economy to technological revolutions are ATMs. Before ATMs were common place bank tellers
would do all the tasks an ATM would. Predictably after ATMs started to replace bank tellers, the
amount of people that it took to run a bank fell from 20 to 13. However the extra revenue allowed for
other branches to be opened in other places thus creating many more jobs than had been originally
present before ATMs had been put into place. In both of these examples the advancement of
technology seems to change the nature of the work being done and the skill set required to do it, it does
not however erase them. I can theorize that something similar is to come as the AI revolution comes to
The last corner Id like to touch in AI is race, though the more specific theme will be that of
historical bias in our social structures being propogated by AI. Discrimination and a system skewed
against minorities still exists in present day US. If a technology as important and influential as AI is not
properly used then AI will be used to further propagate these existing problems. This issue has already
surfaced in some tools used by police. PredPol is a crime prediction software that predicts future crime"

6 Glaser, Eliane. Lessons of the Luddites | Eliane Glaser. Opinion, Guardian News and Media, 17 Nov. 2011, Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.
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hotspots based on past crime data. Heres the issue

Predictive crime data could help eradicate racial profiling in policing if the data were clean of racial
prejudice. Unfortunately, that data is generated based on systemic police practices that have
marginalized ethnic minorities in this country for decades.7

This creates a very strong cycles of prejudice data going in, to further propagate that same data over
and over. It does not matter how advanced the AI advances are, if used incorrectly, it will give us non-
ideal and often dangerous results. Diverting police resources to places where a hotspot already exists
simply means that crimes that are already being covered by police will be further covered (in this case
crimes in minority populations). AI is a powerful tool, but it needs to be used very carefully in order to
be truly effective.
You may have noticed one large trend in all of these different fields that are being touched by
AI, and you may realize that what Ive been doing this entire time is trivial. AI on its own is simply an
area of concepts. Algorithms, concepts and ideas around the automation of judgment. Without a doubt
within the next couple of decades if not years, AI will find itself in everything. The same way that
computers went from a mystery to a house hold item. AI will find its technologies being embedded
everywhere and that on its own is very powerful. It can go in either direction. If AI is used in medical
technologies to the point where medical technologies are then made for profit (not that they arent
already8), then society will sink. If we push technology to a society to the point where a population of
people arent given their right to a stable life, then there will instability. If AI methods are not used
fairly, wisely and justly, then nothing really changed for the better. AI tech is a powerful tool that will
be used, itll only be beneficial to us if we use it beneficially.

7 Jacksmithiv. 'Minority Report' Is Real - And It's Really Reporting Minorities. Mic, Mic Network Inc., 11 Nov. 2015,
Accessed 15 Mar. 2017.
8 Ubel, Peter. Is The Profit Motive Ruining American Healthcare? Forbes, Forbes Magazine, 12 Feb. 2014, Accessed
15 Mar. 2017.