AI — Thoughts from a Human Brain


When most of us think of Artificial Intelligence, we may be reminded of dystopian movies like "The Terminator." However, the ADVENT Team recently had the privilege of discussing the past, present, and future of AI with a leading expert from a global software company.

As innovation leaders in the legal space, we are navigating the possibilities that come from the complex computing of AI. We also are exploring efficient ways to navigate the darker side of AI — and what it means to our business partners and their organizations.

According to the English Oxford Living Dictionary – artificial intelligence is defined as:

The theory and development of computer systems able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence, such as visual perception, speech recognition, decision-making, and translation between languages. 

While this is one definition, there is a fair amount of debate over what is considered Artificial Intelligence. A spectrum of AI emerges, spanning from the creation of a replica of the human mind and its processing capabilities to just trying to replicate human reasoning.  

Why is AI getting so much attention now? Because, researchers now have the availability of data, enhanced processing capabilities, and powerful algorithms to make sense of it all. Google recently announced “Google Duplex.” Catch the YouTube video – “Google Assistant Making Real Call.” In a truly mind-blowing phone call, Google Duplex (an AI technology) schedules an appointment with an actual person at a hair salon. Or a second example, the Google Duplex making a restaurant reservation. The intonation and exchange can only be called one thing — human.  

Certainly, as these advancements continue to expand, questions arise around ethics and compliance. In The Future Computed, Artificial Intelligence and its Role in Society (2018), a book written and published by Microsoft, with a foreword by Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer at Microsoft, and Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Artificial Intelligence and Research at Microsoft, the authors provide an interesting perspective on the art, possibilities and challenges associated with AI — some of which we can only begin to contemplate. Microsoft co-founded the Partnership on AI (PAI) to advance discussions with thought-leaders to ensure AI is “designed and deployed in a manner that will earn the trust of the people how use them and the individuals whose data is being collected.” The Future Computed at 57. Ultimately, Microsoft calls for AI’s role in augmenting and amplifying human capabilities — not replacing them entirely.

The Future Computed also calls for AI to be secure and respect privacy. Concerns in this area have come to the forefront recently, especially in the areas of consumer data mining and use of such data to predict and influence behavior. Enter Exhibit A – Facebook and Cambridge Analytica. In the midst of the investigation regarding use of data to influence the 2016 presidential campaigns, Facebook recently announced the suspension of roughly 200 apps that may have misused user data. The investigation is on-going, and the results will likely be influential as we navigate a new world of AI capabilities.

Society still has much to learn, and the more discussions we engage in and the more learnings we share, the more we can responsibly use AI to enhance human existence, not extinguish it.