As artificial intelligence has become more accessible, the public has become warier in its applications. This wariness comes from decades of popular culture, specifically science fiction, where artificial intelligence (AI) has been portrayed as a global invader or a ruthless antagonist with no emotion. From movies like Terminator to iRobot, AI has been viewed as a scary prospect. Yet the many myths surrounding AI have become debunked over the years as the research of AI progresses. Below are several common myths that have been thoroughly debunked, but are still part of the public consciousness.
Myth: AI learns on its own
This myth comes from many popular films, such as Wall-E, The Matrix, or Eagle Eye. In these films, the AI is able to discern the hero’s goal and gain extra knowledge to stop it from occurring. In reality, this is not the truth. AI is considered a not-conscious being, with its own goals and will. Instead, an AI is limited by what data it uses. Because of this, an AI is only as smart as the data it analyzes, or as smart as the human who inputs the data or programs the AI.
Myth: AI is completely objective in its data analysis.
This myth can also be taken from popular culture, as robots and AI wish that they had feelings (see Ex Machina or Her), which leads an audience to assume that their normal function is objectivity. This is not the case, as AI is only as objective as the data it analyzes. Because humans are without error or bias, the data that they input isn’t going to be completely objective. The effects of bias are minimized as possible, but AI can’t be 100% objective with its inputs.
Myth: AI is run completely by big corporations.
This doesn’t come from popular culture (although Wall-E references this in its corporation Buy’n’Large), but from news outlets who depict large corporations like Apple or Amazon dominating the AI industry. This myth is so popular it spawned an acronym for these big tech companies: GAFAM. This stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft. While these companies design and develop AI technology, including its subset of machine learning, AI is very transparent and open-sourced. This means anyone is free to participate in the deep tech industry of AI. This is also a bonus for investors who may want to finance an AI start-up.
Myth: AI will take over mundane jobs
This is perhaps the most popular myth when it comes to AI, such as in the TV show Upload. In some respects, people are wary of AI because they don’t want to lose their own jobs. This myth isn’t true either, as AI will change how current jobs work, such as improving their efficiency, as well as create new jobs. For example, AI is already being used in the healthcare industry to help diagnose patients faster than doctors. However, this doesn’t mean AI gets the final word, as doctors verify the diagnosis.
AI creates a lot of hesitancy from the general public because of the misconceptions around it. It doesn’t help that people like Elon Musk warn about the dangers of AI. But his points are somewhat valid, as incorrectly programmed AI can lead to problems, such as Google’s AI image recognition technology that identified some black people as gorillas. Many are worried that AI is not being programmed ethically, and will be built on biases that our society already possesses. This is why it is important to separate the facts from the myths of AI, in order to understand how to use it for a more productive society.
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