Microsoft MVP in Artificial Intelligence (AI) Charles Elwood likens new AI technology to a genie in a bottle. Once it’s out, it can never be placed back in.
“Now imagine having access to all the genies in the bottle before they’re out,” Elwood said. “That’s what I can do as a Microsoft MVP in artificial intelligence.”
On May 9 2023, Automation Alley’s annual Integr8 conference hosted a roundtable with Elwood on his experience with AI followed by a discussion on what this technology means for the future of business and society at large.
The timing could not be better. Open AI’s release of Chat GPT in November 2022 catapulted the technology into the mainstream market. Users of the tech ballooned to 100 million within the first two months, making it the most rapid growing user base in history.
Upping the ante, Google also released the artificial intelligence Bard in March 2023, kicking off a new tech race in information-based AI. Today, over 10 million queries are processed by Chat GPT daily.
However, Elwood’s journey with AI started long before the AI arms race of today. It started with deploying AI to give a voice to the voiceless.
Elwood utilized artificial intelligence to read the sign language of a young girl in Puerto Rico and translate her sign language into an audible synthetic voice mapped from her mother’s tone.
Learning from this experience, Elwood was also able to create a synthetic voice for a former radio DJ that lost his voice to throat cancer. This synthetic voice was made possible from AI learning his vocal patterns via a 2004 VHS tape of the radio DJ emceeing a dance competition. This enabled the DJ to be back on the air, sharing a synthetic voice mapped from his real vocal patterns with listeners.
Today, Elwood is on a mission to educate businesses, academics and manufacturers about the power of AI. Here are five key takeaways from his breakout session at Integr8 with Automation Alley members and full-access pass attendees:
1. The Pace of Change is Rapid
Artificial intelligence has the power to change most jobs and shortcut communication tasks. Lengthy and accurate targeted emails can be made in seconds instead of hours. Research on specific topics can be honed and verified in minutes. A working website full of specific widgets and links can be constructed and operational within a day instead of a week.
These are just early and common examples — Brace for more changes as people unlock new ways to capitalize on this technology. In the future, even more powerful AI tools will be released, each with the potential to revolutionize how we live and work.
2. Fears and Hopes Across the Board
Academia and business have differing fears and hopes with this technology. Academics present at the roundtable identified plagiarism and a loss of critical thinking as dangers of this technology. On the other hand, they identified that artificial intelligence could aid in educational equity and the research process.
Members of the business community at the roundtable identified job loss and data security as risk factors in artificial intelligence. Meanwhile, enhanced creativity, productivity and new business models were seen as boons for this technology’s adoption.
3. Ethics of Artificial Intelligence
Members of the session agreed this technology needs to have limits. It should not be utilized for the best instructions on bomb manufacturing or how to execute a cyber attack. Bard and Chat GPT4 both have safeguard features built by developers to reject inappropriate requests. However, where does regulation come in? Where is the line not to cross in asking for information or utilizing AI? These ethics need to be defined, but by who and for what purpose remains in question.
4. Equity of Quality Information is a Good Thing
Discussion revolved around how artificial intelligence can be a great equalizer for undereducated and underserved communities. If the adage “information is power” is true, having artificial intelligence as an ally to reduce the amount of research strain on a topic will help people in a socio-economic aspect. Stories are emerging of artificial intelligence walking prospective entrepreneurs through the red tape of starting a business, and how to attract/retain new customers with unique products.
5. It’s About Perspective
Artificial intelligence still requires human interface to accomplish its tasks, therefore it should be looked at as a new tool instead of a job displacer. Humanity and artificial intelligence do not have to exist in a false dichotomy. Technology has augmented humanity for thousands of years, and this is just the latest iteration in our generation when we witness massive technological change firsthand. However, efforts must be made to train students, employees and leadership alike on how to best use this technology in order to prevent widespread disruption.
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