Why aren't you afraid of AI?

“Don't be afraid of artificial intelligence”: AI expert Manuela Lenzen on the possibilities of the technology

Everyone is talking about artificial intelligence (AI), preferably in the form of horror scenarios. Manuela Lenzen, AI expert and author of the book “Artificial Intelligence. What it can do and what to expect, ”reveals how you can use the opportunities offered by technology.

AI expert Manuela Lenzen The science journalist Manuela Lenzen holds a doctorate in philosophy and is interested in topics at the interface between philosophy and the natural sciences. For decades, this has included the field of artificial intelligence. Your book (Verlag C.H. Beck, 16.95 euros) is praised as the ideal introduction to the subject.

Siri, Alexa, Cortana - the voice-assisted assistants are harmless and for many are the first access to AI. Do we get such an accurate picture?

Yes and no. The assistants arouse curiosity, are funny and convey a feeling of what AI can and cannot do. Often they are also overwhelmed. However, they are also easily perceived incorrectly. Many were horrified when they heard that people were actually listening to their dialogues with the machine somewhere.

Rightly appalled?

These systems need feedback from people in order to get better. This is not clear to many, many think that they just somehow learn by themselves. It is a problem when the wrong impression is given as to what these systems can do. Much more important, however, is the amount of data that is also collected via voice assistants in order to confront us with advertising even more effectively.

What do you think is great about AI?

A lot. I am impressed with how well translation systems are already working. How to correctly translate complex sentences into another language. The possibilities are enormous, we are on the threshold of turning old human dreams into reality with artificial helpers. AI can help solve traffic problems, save energy, make individual cancer therapies possible ...

What's the most wonderful thing you have experienced as an AI so far?

Perhaps the most tangible are advances in medicine and science when it comes to analyzing large amounts of data. For example, the analysis of images - whether X-ray or CT - is faster and more accurate with a team made up of humans and machines. And the radiologists gain time to do other things.

AI is associated with great fears. Wrong?

The topic is pushed up. I want to convey: stay on the carpet and worry where it is necessary. The fear, for example, that robots with artificial intelligence will somehow take over power: This goes back to ancient myths and science fiction. They don't make their own plans. Rather, they are tools that we have to use correctly. The fact that pattern recognition systems can be used for manipulation and surveillance is of course questionable, not to mention (partially) autonomous weapons.

You might be interested in that too

Another fear: will jobs be lost?

Forecasts are very different, some say that around 40 percent of jobs will be affected. I think a lot of work areas will change and new jobs will be created. This is not developing as quickly as many fear.

Does too much fear lead to us missing out on opportunities?

Fear can be paralyzing. We have to try out how we react to artificial systems, which are good for us and which are not. We need to think about how we can use the smart machines to make society more human, not just more efficient.

Should women play a bigger role in development?

Absolutely, because of course the AI ​​reflects who programmed it. Therefore, all social groups should contribute their perspectives. But women are on the advance, getting professorships and sometimes leading positions. A tip for everyone who is interested in this: combinations of computer science with subjects such as biology, medicine or ethics are very promising.

In 10 years - what are you looking forward to?

I'm looking forward to artificial intelligence working in my home network without data transfers to large companies ... A household robot would also be good - and a society in which everyone has to work less.