AI: Angel or Devil?

October 14, 2019

Lately there’s been a lot of discussion about the negative impact of AI. Elon Musk believes “AI is mankind’s biggest threat”, and that AI is like “summoning the demon”. McKinsey has penned several articles on the ethics of AI. And then of course, there is the prospect of AI eliminating scores of jobs, when global populations are rising.

Be that as it may, everyone acknowledges the immense positive effect AI can have on every aspect of business and life. I, in particular, am extremely excited about a project we are starting with a non-profit.

This non-profit provides outcome based solutions for neglected, delinquent, abused and other at risk children and their families with a combination of treatment and education services. Most such non-profits assess a child when they first see them and determine a course of action they believe would work best for that child.

Often, what happens in reality is that a child needs to go through multiple programs before finding success with one. A progressive group within the non-profit I am working with, felt there had be a way to use analytics to better determine which program was best suited for each child. With that in mind they started collecting and maintaining data on every child that came through their system.

Most of this information was already available, just in multiple different systems, offices and silos. Now they are attempting to use this past data to match incoming children to specific programs. The attempt is to get FTRs (First-Time-Rights); no child should need to go through a program that does not have a considerable positive impact. Once the system is live, it will continously learn based on feedback from on-the-ground results, and continously improve.

Every once in a while, you get to work on a project that truly impacts life and satisfies the soul. It feels really good to be in a position to make a difference!

It’s applications like this one, which give us an inkling into the huge potential of AI/ML. However, challenges remain, regarding manipulation, bias, privacy abuse, etc., in AI implementations. It’s our collective responsibility as business leaders to ensure that AI is deployed responsibly.

The Peter Parker principle rings true…“With great power comes great responsibility”