Artificial Intelligence

Charting the Future of Artificial Intelligence

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For decades, the world has been producing digital information at an unprecedented rate. We have digitized the history of the world’s literature and all of its medical journals, enabling wide access to troves of information.

We can now understand the movements of planes, trains, automobiles, not to mention everything else from cattle to mobile phones to weather patterns. And we are privy to the real-time public sentiments of billions of people through social media.

It is not unreasonable to expect that within this rapidly growing body of digital information lie the much needed clues for professionals to solve the major societal challenges of our time from defeating cancer and reversing climate change to managing the complexity of the global economy. And we at IBM believe that AI, or ‘cognitive,’ systems are the tools that will help us accomplish these ambitious goals.

We are not alone in this belief. Momentum is building rapidly in the development of AI. And its potential is being recognized by businesses and governments alike. To that end, the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is gathering diverse perspectives from myriad organizations to prepare for the future of this transformational technology.

IBM has delivered a detailed response outlining our point of view, available in full here. Our position, in brief, is that AI systems are augmenting human intelligence in every field, and will ultimately transform our personal and professional lives.  We believe that the benefits of AI can be realized sooner and more broadly through progressive social and economic policies, education and workforce programs, and investment in long-range interdisciplinary research programs.

In the response, we lay out many examples where AI systems are already making a difference in domains like healthcare, financial services, and education, etc. And while we have made much progress in building AI systems, fundamental advances in research still are needed.  Deeply understanding the domains of human expertise, such as medicine, engineering, law and thousands more, poses particularly difficult issues.  And when deployed at scale, AI systems will need computing infrastructure that can handle unprecedented new workloads.

We recognize that AI systems are powerful, and like all powerful tools, great care must be taken in their deployment. A key point we make is that in order to reap the societal benefits of artificial intelligence, we will first need to trust it. That trust will be earned through experience, of course, in the same way we learn to trust that an ATM will register a deposit, or that an automobile will stop when the brake is applied. Put simply, we trust things that behave as we expect them to.

We believe governments will be important partners in achieving the full potential of AI. And IBM is convening groups of leading thinkers in the field – from academia, research, government and the business community – to collaboratively address these topics and more.

There is much work to do. And we hope that our response to the OSTP’s request for information will help lay the foundation for a global conversation that will advance the science and design of AI systems. Because we firmly believe that many of the mysteries that underlie the critical systems that facilitate life on this planet can be solved using AI.
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IBM’s full OSTP RFI response can be found here.

Chief Science Officer, Cognitive Computing, and Vice President, IBM Research

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