The Impact of AI

February 1, 2019

Transatlantic Forum: “The Age of AI: Artificial Intelligence’s looming disruptions on politics, business, and society” on January 9, 2019

The French-American Foundation welcomed Dr. Colin McCormick, technologist and data scientist, to its first Transatlantic Forum of 2019 to discuss the impact of Artificial Intelligence on politics, business, and everyday life.

To introduce the discussion, Dr. McCormick explained that many world leaders have developed an interest in AI over the last few years and expect positive outcomes from the technology. Many countries have written “AI National Strategies” to lead the research efforts in the field. Dr. McCormick acknowledge the specificity of France’s National Strategy, which aims to take into account the social and political impacts of AI’s development.

While countries “compete” with each other in the race for predominance in the AI sector, businesses, mainly GAFAs (Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon), invest massively in AI development with the expectation that they will receive a high profit and return in the future. But Dr. McCormick noted that the benefits from the technology are difficult to quantify and added that we are facing a risk that only a smaller number of companies are benefiting from this large amount of aggregate data.

The speaker then opened a discussion on the social challenges that we can expect. For example, many people fear that the development of AI will replace the need for as many workers and therefore lead to higher unemployment. In this context, training labor force replacement is a question that politicians should think about to address the consequences of AI on jobs.

The speaker also shared his concern about the significant ethical challenges we are facing, such as those raised by facial recognition technology. Questions of governance and regulation are emerging to protect against misuse of the technology.

Photos credit: Kari Bjorn

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