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Ben Reid

Machine Learning requires ‘Careful Stewardship’ urges Royal Society

The numerous benefits from advances in AI based technologies depend entirely on the environment in which they evolve, says the Royal Society.  According to a new report from the UK’s science academy, urgent consideration should be given to the ‘careful stewardship’ needed over the next decade to ensure that machine learning, benefit all in society.

“Machine learning is already used in many apps and services that we encounter every day.  It is used to tag people in our photos, by our phones to interpret voice commands, by internet retailers to make recommendations, and by banks to spot unusual activity on a credit or debit card. However, these current applications only scratch the surface of understanding just how powerful a technology this could be,” says Professor Peter Donnelly FRS, chair of the report’s working group and Director of the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics and Professor of Statistical Science at the University of Oxford.

The recently published report, Machine Learning: the power and promise of computers that learn by example, comes at a critical time in the rapid development and use of the technology.  Alongside its development there is growing debate of how machine learning will reshape the United Kingdom’s economy and people’s lives.  The report calls for research funding bodies to support research that goes beyond technical challenges into areas aimed at addressing public confidence in machine learning.

The report calls for action in a number of areas over the next decade to create an environment of ‘careful stewardship’ to help ensure the benefits of the technology are felt broadly.  Understanding who will be most affected, how the benefits are likely to be distributed  and where the opportunities for growth lie, will be key to designing the most effective interventions.  This will enable people and businesses to adapt and take advantage of the machine learning driven changes to their lives.

Read the research summary or the full report here.

Ben Reid I head up the AI Forum of New Zealand - working to harness the power of AI to help bring about a prosperous and inclusive future for New Zealand and the world. The AI Forum NZ brings together technology firms, businesses, universities and the government to connect, promote and advance the national AI ecosystem.