10 important questions about the promise and pitfalls of AI – GeekWire

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The BWB Drumline performs before speakers take the stage at an event focused on artificial intelligence at the Museum of History and Industry on Thursday in Seattle. Performers include, from left: Saire Williams-Bullen; 9 Coleman-Harvey; Tahlia Price; and RaNiyah Cooper. (GeekWire Photos / Taylor Soper)

Artificial intelligence is already changing the world. But the full extent of its impact on how we live and work remains to be seen.

In the meantime, there are crucial questions to consider to help mitigate potential perils of AI on society — and take advantage of the opportunities.

That was a theme from an Innovation Exchange event held Thursday evening at the Museum of History and Industry in Seattle.

Speakers from the Seattle region ranged from corporate executives to nonprofit leaders to arts and music professionals. The focus was on the future of artificial intelligence and its impact on people — particularly those that have traditionally been marginalized from new technologies.

“We are at the epicenter of AI. The world is looking to us in terms of AI,” said Constance W. RIce, president of the Very Strategic Group and a member of the Board of Regents at the University of Washington.

The program used the “Pecha Kucha” format, which gave each speaker six minutes and 40 seconds — 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide — to share their message.

Melba Ayco (right), founder of Northwest Tap Connection, speaks about the innovative qualities of tap music. Rachel McKinney (left), an instructor at Northwest Tap Connection, performs on stage.

The presentations highlighted the hopes and fears of AI. Some talked about the ways AI can help speed up creative work, educate students, or improve healthcare. But others shared concern about the technology — and the people controlling its destiny.

“AI is a human product,” Rice said. “It can lift us — only if we as humans gather together in a community way, to make sure there are guardrails.”

Read on for memorable lines from each presentation. Quotes were edited for brevity and clarity.

Should we fear AI, or the humans that control it?

“I am not afraid of AI. I am afraid of us.” — Amelia Ransom, vice president of DEI at Smartsheet

How should we teach students about AI, and how to use AI?

“In order to empower students, they have to know what’s in those algorithms. They have to know what’s in that box.” — Chris Reykdal, Washington state superintendent of public instruction

Who can access AI models and algorithms?

“The question of data governance is a big one. How we can control who accesses the data, who gets access to the model — there’s a lot of work that needs to be done there.” — Stefania Druga, research scientist at Google

What are the layers of alienation between the production and use of AI?

“Ordinary individuals and communities feel very much alienated by AI … many are mystified by what it does.” — Onur Bakiner, associate professor of political science at Seattle University

How do biases in AI reflect biases in society?

“We have to create inputs for AI and AI-enabled products that are as inherently nuanced, diverse, and complicated as we are.” — Alison Gazarek, director of education at Intentional Futures

How will AI be built for marginalized communities?

“I’m super passionate about civic and community participation in stewarding a landscape where technology is collaboratively designed with the most marginalized to shape a more justice-oriented future.” — Jay Cunningham, PhD candidate and student regent at the University of Washington

How will AI recount history?

“My concern about this type of technology, is what are they going to use to describe my grandchildren? How many years have I fought for my grandchildren, to be equitable? And then when it’s all said and done, what technology is going to define us?” — Melba Ayco, founder of Northwest Tap Connection

Will AI change the way we work?

“The 40-hour work week, working for a single employer — it could all be reimagined.” — Orlando Lugo, product manager, responsible AI and tech at Salesforce

How can AI help artists?

“This film took about seven years to make. If I had been using AI tools, quite a few years could have been shaved off.” — Baylee Sinner, film producer and director filmmaker

What is the human element of AI?

“We aren’t afraid of the technology, we’re afraid of each other. It is each other who determines how that technology is applied.” — Jamar Montgomery, program manager at Boeing, board member at Black Founders and Funders Group

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