IDG Contributor Network: The ethics of AI in the shadow of GDPR

Days later my ears are still ringing from the booming baritone of the public-address announcer in the keynote session on the first morning at the IBM Think 2018 conference in Las Vegas. I keep wondering when the humming will subside, but with it a single thought continues to linger from the presentation that was delivered by IBM’s CEO, Ginni Rometty. That was the discussion point of the ethics of artificial intelligence or AI.

Now this is not to say AI in the sense of the cute emoji that you may have made of your face on your mobile device. No, this is talking about AI that is managing the ebb and flow of the global supply chain or managing the routing of bags for your rebooked flights, as an example. Not some garden variety cruft.

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a system that demonstrates traits that can mirror human intelligence in some form or another. These traits can be associated with problem solving, manipulation of informational inputs, or in some cases can even mimic creativity. Obviously, your mileage may vary.

AI is a type of intelligence that often evokes the specter of the movie Terminator. While this draconian post-apocalyptic vision of the future is what most think of when the subject of AI comes up, it really does do us a disservice. Case in point is Watson from IBM. This is an AI platform that can be trained to, as an example, ingest a request for a proposal document (RFP) and respond. Rather cool when you think of it.