How AI is Transforming Society (and Why We Need to Talk About It)

AI is no longer covert tech, it's a powerful tool interacting with us. Experts discuss how AI can benefit society but also raise concerns about bias and lack of regulation. Universities are considered key to ensuring ethical development and proposing frameworks to govern AI for the common good.

How AI is Transforming Society (and Why We Need to Talk About It)
From shadows to spotlight: AI is no longer hidden tech, it's shaping our world.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer a science fiction trope, but a powerful technology shaping our world. Experts Ximena Gutiérrez Vasques and Sebastián Tonda discussed the evolving nature of AI and its significant implications during a recent conversation at El Aleph. Art and Science Festival 2024.

The core message? AI is no longer confined to tech specialists. Gutiérrez, a computational linguistics expert, emphasizes how AI has transitioned from "an actor who was behind the technological tools" to a force actively interacting with us. This "frontal dialogue" necessitates a broader understanding of AI's capabilities and potential impact.

The discussion highlighted both the promise and peril of AI. UNAM's Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Internet program exemplifies the potential for AI to leverage vast data sets for positive societal change. However, concerns were raised regarding potential biases and limitations.

Gutiérrez pointed out that AI translation excels with dominant languages like English and Spanish, but struggles with less digitized languages like Nahuatl. This raises concerns about AI perpetuating existing biases and homogenizing diverse cultures.

The Race for Development and the Need for Regulation

Tonda, co-founder of Flock, a digital marketing agency, stressed the urgency of discussing what defines human intelligence in the face of AI's rapid advancement. He argues that focusing solely on whether AI will replace us hinders a more critical discussion: how to ensure ethical and responsible development of AI.

Regulation also emerged as a pressing issue. Tonda suggests that countries prioritizing commercial advantage, like the US and China, might not be the most proactive in establishing regulations. He highlights the European Union's efforts as a potential model, emphasizing the need for robust frameworks governing data privacy and mitigating risks associated with AI applications.

The conversation underscored the crucial role universities play in shaping the future of AI. Gutiérrez and Tonda advocate for universities to not only conduct research but also propose governance mechanisms for AI developers. They emphasize the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration to ensure ethical considerations are embedded throughout the development process.

In conclusion, AI's influence is undeniable. By fostering open dialogue, prioritizing ethical development, and establishing effective regulations, we can harness AI's potential for the collective good, ensuring it serves humanity rather than becoming a force for homogenization and marginalization.