AI Christmas

Image by Oberholster Venita from Pixabay

The Christmas holidays are coming and it’s a busy time in academia. The old semester is coming to an end, deadlines pile up, papers need to be written, economy reported, new semester to start.

This year I though a bit about making a reflection on what has happened in 2019. Well, the biggest thing was the AI Competence project. It took a lot of time to prepare and a lot of persons to coordinate. It’s also been a super exciting time as I’ve learned a lot about AI.

We organized seminars and courses about AI in Law, AI in journalism, AI in schools. Basically, it turned out that AI is everywhere and influences all kinds of professions. The last seminar is about AI and ethics. I’m not very good with ethics so I will not talk about that.

What I would like to talk about AI and holidays. Yes, it is half-serious, but it’s holiday season coming up, so let’s see.

First, let’s look at the concept of trustworthiness (10.1109/MITP.2019.2913265). AI can be trustworthy or not, we can also trust it or not. If we look at the confusion matrix based on that, we could quickly see that the most problmatic challenge is when we trust AI and it cannot be trusted. Then we can be fooled and it can have disastrous consequence – we can get killed if we trust an AI that flies a plane and it is malicious. I do not believe this is very likely, but can happen – who knows whether the software we construct is actually wishing us well? In a 100 million LOC software we cannot really check that.

Second, holidays are often about forgetting sins and those that trespass against us. So, can we teach AI to forget ( One big issue a few years ago was the so-called “right to be forgotten”, i.e. The right of an individual to ask to be removed from search histories, etc. Can we ask AI to forget us? And if it does now show results related to us, has it really forgotten? And if it forgets, does it only forget the “bad” things and not the “good” ones?

Third, holidays are often about being grateful for something. We’re often grateful for our families, health, life, friends. We can be grateful for basically anything. But, can AI be grateful? Does Ai have friends? Does it need a family? I don’t think it does, and what does it mean? I guess that we can still see what will happen, but I hope that AI systems will start to understand the need of these values. In cases of AlphaGo or AlphaStar, where different types of algorithms were linked together (reinforced learning and deep learning), did these two algorithms understood that they need each other to succeed? This is as close to friendship as I could find about AI, but I have not found any evidence about gratefulness.

I guess that the concept of forgiveness is also important. Most of us do not reflect about it, but let’s look at a simple case of kids using internet. They make mistakes – they are kids, they learn – is it fair that their mistakes can be remembered forever ( Wired took up this topic ( and raised a concern that we can never be forgotten. Once our data enters the super-complex machinery of AI and algorithms, they are trained, adjusted, customized, this data can never leave that system. Maybe it will not be linked to us, but it will never be forgotten.

Well, to sum up. I think that AI is not ready for the world. The world is maybe ready for the AI. We are happy that our holiday bookings are done through AI, planes are scheduled using AI and flown by them. However, we can compare an AI to a person who takes everything as true and never forgets. Kind of kaptain Kirk from Star Trek. Would this person like a holiday season?

So, let’s be happy and grateful that the AI, in a general sense, lives inside computers and does not walk around our world. Our holidays are, most certainly, better because of that.

Merry Christmas!