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We must exploit AI in a positive way, Dr Nello Cristianini says

Artificial Intelligence is in our lives and we must exploit it in a positive manner,  Dr Nello Cristianini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bath, said on Friday.

The Professor was speaking at an online event entitled “How machines became intelligent without thinking in a human way” hosted by the Cyprus Center for Algorithmic Transparency (CyCAT) of the Open University of Cyprus

Replying to questions from CNA, the Professor spoke about the professions that are mainly affected or will soon be affected by Artificial Intelligence. He said that already AI can do translations and in a few years it will also enter the field of transportation with automated vehicles.

He cited as an example the recent announcement by British telecommunications company BT Group, which announced that it will cut around 55,000 jobs by 2030.

“That’s not far, it’s only a few years away,” he said, adding that the move by the company is because they seem to expect that chat bots like ChatGPT will have by 2030 reached a point where they could very well replace humans.

There will be a transition, he said, adding that at the same time new jobs will be created in other sectors.

We have, he pointed out, time to think about how we will react and this is a task that the politicians will have to do by introducing the necessary regulations.

He was also asked by CNA to comment on the warnings from  experts, who recently said that AI could reach the point of becoming an existential threat to humans.

The Professor referred to the signatures that have been collected by scientists in a petition, asking the governments to mitigate the existential risk.

“Scientists don’t use words randomly, extinction means extinction. It’s a very confusing message being sent, I don’t see how there can be an event that will lead to the extinction of the human species because of computers. They need to explain that to us,” he said.

Replying to other questions from the audience, he said that a type of algorithm has succeeded in recent years in creating content, such as images, music, videos and texts to such an extent that it has become difficult to distinguish which material is AI-generated and which is created by humans.

This, he said, creates a lot of problems. One of them is deception, eg that an image is real when it is not, which opens the path for misinformation. Another problem, he said, is that the material being created is a source of income for many people. When AI enters these fields, mainly the arts, it inevitably becomes competitive with humans, while the issue of intellectual property also arises.

All these need to be regulated, he said and appeared optimistic saying that we can always find something good, there is always something positive in every technological development.

ChatGPT, he said, is here, it’s in our lives and the key is to understand how it works and make the most of it.

The discussion was open to students, researchers, academics, and the general public interested in the topic.

Nello Cristianini is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bath, and a researcher in many areas of Artificial Intelligence, including machine learning theory, natural language processing, social implications of AI, philosophical foundations of AI, computational social science. He is the author of “The Shortcut – Why Intelligent Machines Do Not Think Like Us” published by CRC Press (2023).

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