Fear of an AI being running amok has been a popular theme in science fiction and movies. But rather than a Frankenstein or Matrix, what we’re starting to see are myriads of AI applications that become part of our everyday lives in ways that we may not even be aware of: from our Uber rides to news feeds and Netflix recommendations. Add the internet of things to the mix, and we have a scenario where almost every asset in our lives is intelligent, knows about us, and is thinking of ways to be more efficient and personalized. “The term AI will disappear because it’s everywhere,” says Zheng.
The challenge for her and others developing and deploying AI applications then is to anticipate unintended consequences and prevent their pernicious effects. Startups and larger tech companies jumping in to use AI in their products and services have a lot to gain from real-time automation. But how much attention are they paying to how AI applications will behave in various real-life situations?