01 July 2019
EU plans for Artificial Intelligence (AI): Get ready to meet your friendly "digital assistant"
- "a digital assistant should be required to be able to explain its reasoning, and undergo an ethical audit."
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"According to the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence set up by the European Commission, artificial intelligence (AI) can be described as follows:
AI systems are software (and possibly
also hardware) systems designed by humans that, given a complex
goal, act in the physical or digital dimension by perceiving
their environment through data acquisition, interpreting the
collected structured or unstructured data, reasoning on the knowledge,
or processing the information, derived from this data and deciding
the best action(s) to take to achieve the given goal. AI
systems can either use symbolic rules or learn a numeric model,
and they can also adapt their behaviour by analysing how the
environment is affected by their previous
As a scientific discipline, AI includes several approaches and techniques, such as machine learning (of which deep learning and reinforcement learning are specific examples), machine reasoning (which includes planning, scheduling, knowledge representation and reasoning, search, and optimization), and robotics (which includes control, perception, sensors and actuators, as well as the integration of all other techniques into cyber-physical systems)." [emphasis added throughout]
Information relevant to particular task:
"increasingly in danger of getting lost in the ever-swelling tsunami of data. AI could mitigate the problem via intelligent search techniques. For example, intelligent video search could spot an individual fitting a verbal description or a previous photo, or carrying insignia of extremist groups. For an investigator, an intelligent search functionality might unearth similar cases or crime patterns."
Meet the "digital assistant"
"Combined with a natural language interface, this technology could form the basis for a digital assistant. Such an assistantcould take instructions through a natural written and spoken discussion, providing a common interface to a variety of applications at the same time, and adapt to the needs of the user. The same technology could power customer service bots that answer questions from citizens. In spoken language mode, the assistant would be helpful to police patrols busy dealing with people involved in incidents. Developing smart digital assistants is vital for making future information overload manageable, but at the same time, we must ensure that the resulting system is transparent to the user."
Information overload is a growing concern in law enforcement work, but a digital assistant capable of intelligent search, and operated by natural language, could at least be part of the solution."
A society permeated with AI may become too complex to comprehend, which would entail a fundamental lack of transparency. This can be mitigated through system design: for example, a digital assistant should be required to be able to explain its reasoning, and undergo an ethical audit."
"Autonomous, miniature drones could be equipped with facial recognition...
The mass surveillance that is already a reality in some parts of the world represents a grave privacy issue. It may be possible to automatically collect and process private information such as medical and psychological details from surveillance data. (...)
Other societal challenges posed by AI could include the threat of widespread unemployment and the unrest that would potentially ensue."
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