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Artificial Intelligence

32 Inspiring Quotes About Artificial Intelligence

Read quotes on artificial intelligence (AI) from some of the industry’s most preeminent experts. Get inspired by their thoughts on emerging technologies, unbiased AI, and the future of work.

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These quotes from luminaries in artificial intelligence will surprise, educate, and inspire. [ACALU Studio / Stocksy]

Artificial intelligence (AI) is on everyone’s lips – and with good reason. According to the Future of Workforce Development report, 62% of hiring managers expect AI to substantially change the nature of work. But this change — depending on who you’re talking to — is charged with mixed emotions from anxiety to excitement.

We’ve talked to some of the most preeminent AI experts to discuss various intelligence-related topics from emerging technologies, developing unbiased AI, to the future of work. Here are 30 of their most interesting, and sometimes surprising, quotes on AI.

Artificial intelligence quotes on business impact

There’s no doubt that AI is already changing how businesses operate — whether through task automation, insight generation, or other use cases. The experts agree that AI is a complex field, and that it’s important to view AI objectively — and to separate science fiction from fact.

Vivienne Ming, executive chair and co-founder, Socos Labs

“Artificial intelligence and machine learning, as a dominant discipline within AI, is an amazing tool. In and of itself, it’s not good or bad. It’s not a magic solution. It isn’t the core of the problems in the world.” [watch video]

Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer, Accenture

“In our business, we talk about emerging technologies and how they impact society. We’ve never seen a technology move as fast as AI has to impact society and technology. This is by far the fastest moving technology that we’ve ever tracked in terms of its impact and we’re just getting started.”

Richard Socher, former chief scientist, Salesforce

“AI is a complex field and I am the first to say that we computer scientists have not progressed as far as many people believe. For instance, we currently have no credible research path to any kind of conscious AI algorithm and there are no robots that are truly autonomous or able to make their own decisions — so don’t worry about walking terminators.” [read more]

John Frémont, founder and chief strategy officer, Hypergiant

“There’s no one thing that defines AI. It’s more like a tapestry of modern intelligent technologies knit together in a strategic fashion that can then uplift and create a knowledge base that is automated — where you can extrapolate findings from there.” [watch video]

Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer, Accenture

“The playing field is poised to become a lot more competitive, and businesses that don’t deploy AI and data to help them innovate in everything they do will be at a disadvantage.” [read more]

Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT initiative on the digital economy

“Harnessing machine learning can be transformational, but for it to be successful, enterprises need leadership from the top. This means understanding that when machine learning changes one part of the business — the product mix, for example — then other parts must also change. This can include everything from marketing and production to supply chain, and even hiring and incentive systems.” [read more]

Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and chief executive officer, Sinovation Ventures

“The gradual platformization of AI is very interesting to me. The efforts by Google, Amazon, Salesforce — they’re bringing AI down to a level of not needing to be an expert to use it. … I think the day that any good software engineer can program AI will be the day it really proliferates.” [watch video]

Artificial intelligence quotes on workforce readiness

While AI will certainly change how we work, experts don’t foresee huge unemployment or a jobless future; rather they see a shift in skills and questions around talent redeployment. Many hiring managers already know the importance of offering employees opportunities to skill up and retrain. Sixty-eight percent of hiring managers said formalized retraining programs are valuable in preparing their workforce for tech advancements according to the Future of Workforce Development report.

James Manyika, chairman and director, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)

“It’s natural to wonder if there will be a jobless future or not. What we’ve concluded, based on much research, is that there will be jobs lost, but also gained, and changed. The number of jobs gained and changed is going to be a much larger number, so if you ask me if I worry about a jobless future, I actually don’t. That’s the least of my worries.” [watch video]

Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and chief executive officer, Sinovation Ventures

“Humans need and want more time to interact with each other. I think AI coming about and replacing routine jobs is pushing us to do what we should be doing anyway: the creation of more humanistic service jobs.” [watch video]

James Manyika, chairman and director, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)

“We’re going to see tremendous occupational shifts. Some jobs will climb while others decline. So how do we enable and support workers as they transition from occupation to occupation? We don’t do that very well. I worry about the skill shifts. Skill requirements are going to be substantial and how do we get there quickly enough?” [watch video]

Michael Chiu, partner, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)

“Our research says that 50% of the activities that we pay people to do can be automated by adapting currently demonstrated technologies. We think it’ll take decades, but it will happen. So there is a role for business leaders to try to understand how to redeploy talent. It’s important to think about mass redeployment instead of mass unemployment. That’s the right problem to solve.” [watch video]

Sarah Aerni, director of data science, Salesforce

“As important as it is to educate the new sets of generations coming in, I also think it’s important to educate the existing workforce, so they can understand how to have AI serve them and their roles.” [watch video]

Artificial intelligence quotes on the future of work

Tech advancements place rising importance on both hard and soft skills. While employees must be able to speak the language of data and other hard skills, soft skills are increasingly essential. Judgment calls, creative thinking, and emotional intelligence are in high demand — and not easily replicated by AI. While change can be slow within an organization, experts say that adapting sooner rather than later is key to future success.

Robin Bordoli, former chief executive officer, Figure Eight

“I think what makes AI different from other technologies is that it’s going to bring humans and machines closer together. AI is sometimes incorrectly framed as machines replacing humans.  It’s not about machines replacing humans, but machines augmenting humans. Humans and machines have different relative strengths and weaknesses, and it’s about the combination of these two that will allow human intents and business process to scale 10x, 100x, and beyond that in the coming years.” [watch video]

John Frémont, founder and chief strategy officer, Hypergiant

“My team has a saying: what looks like magic to your competitors in five years is just your good planning. And it really is. It takes a lot of money, work, and effort to get where you’re going with advancements in AI.” [watch video]

Michael Chiu, partner, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI)

“Change is hard within organizations. It’s unclear to me whether or not AI, just as a technology, is going to radically change all of the challenges that we have within an organization. Things like getting people to change, change their practices and processes, and using this set of technologies. There is a huge gap in terms of what we can do now with AI. There’s improved lead generation that machine learning can do better than humans. And then there’s the Westworld-style ‘is it murder if you kill a robot’ scenario. There’s a big gap between those two things. I think you can start working on understanding the business problems now before you have to worry about Skynet taking over. Knock down the things AI can solve now.” [watch video]

John Frémont, founder and chief strategy officer, Hypergiant

“It’s about having open borders within your organization. The bigger you get, the more siloed you get. It gets very difficult because there’s always political winds blowing this way or that. But when we’re talking about innovation at this scale — and it is here — it’s inevitable. Those who adopt this strategy [of collaborating and strategizing together] will win, and those who do not will lose terribly.” [watch video]

Vivienne Ming, executive chair and co-founder, Socos Labs

“I think the future of global competition is, unambiguously, about creative talent, and I’m far from the only person who sees this as the main competition point going forward. Everyone will have access to amazing AI. Your vendor on that will not be a huge differentiator. Your creative talent though — that will be who you are. Instead of chasing that race to the bottom on labor costs, invest in turning your talent into a team of explorers who can solve amazing problems using AI as the tool that takes the busy work out. That is the company that wins in the end.” [watch video]

Ulrich Spiesshofer, president and CEO, ABB Ltd.

“The countries with the highest robot density have among the lowest unemployment rates. Technology and humans combined in the right way will drive prosperity.” [watch video]

Artificial intelligence quotes on biased data

While AI is not inherently good or bad, the data that powers it can be biased, causing skewed and negative outcomes. Systemic discrimination is a matter that AI experts explicitly warn against. They raise several questions about how we can best increase fairness and not replicate human failings.

Kathy Baxter, ethical AI practice architect, Salesforce

“Unfortunately, we have biases that live in our data, and if we don’t acknowledge that and if we don’t take specific actions to address it then we’re just going to continue to perpetuate them or even make them worse.” [read more]

Liesl Yearsley, chief executive officer, Akin.com

“We should be thinking about the values these systems will hold. How will they make decisions if their decision-making is better than ours? Where does that come from? Do we want to give them human values? The same values that also gave us slavery, sexism, racism — some of the more appalling values we hold?” [read more]

Timnit Gebru, research scientist, Google AI

“There’s a real danger of systematizing the discrimination we have in society [through AI technologies]. What I think we need to do — as we’re moving into this world full of invisible algorithms everywhere — is that we have to be very explicit, or have a disclaimer, about what our error rates are like.” [watch video]

Paul Daugherty, chief technology and innovation officer, Accenture

“Fairness is a big issue. Human behavior is already discriminatory in many respects. The data we’ve accumulated is discriminatory. How can we use technology and AI to reduce discrimination and increase fairness? There are interesting works around adversarial neural networks and different technologies that we can use to bias toward fairness, rather than perpetuate the discrimination. I think we’re in an era where responsibility is something you need to design and think about as we’re putting these new systems out there so we don’t have these adverse outcomes.” [read more]

Richard Socher, former chief scientist, Salesforce

“There is a silver lining on the bias issue. For example, say you have an algorithm trying to predict who should get a promotion. And say there was a supermarket chain that, statistically speaking, didn’t promote women as often as men. It might be easier to fix an algorithm than fix the minds of 10,000 store managers.” [watch video]

Tristan Harris, co-founder and executive director, Center for Humane Technology

“Humane technology starts with an honest appraisal of human nature. We need to do the uncomfortable thing of looking more closely at ourselves.” [read more]

Vivienne Ming, executive chair and co-founder, Socos Labs

“A lot of times, the failings are not in AI. They’re human failings, and we’re not willing to address the fact that there isn’t a lot of diversity in the teams building the systems in the first place. And somewhat innocently, they aren’t as thoughtful about balancing training sets to get the thing to work correctly. But then teams let that occur again, and again. And you realize, if you’re not thinking about the human problem, then AI isn’t going to solve it for you.” [watch video]

Artificial intelligence quotes on ethics, privacy, and government

AI experts universally agree that there needs to be more discussion and collaboration around AI ethics, privacy, and government regulation.

Terah Lyons, founding executive director, Partnership on AI

“The problem that needs to be addressed is that the government, itself, needs to get a better handle on how technology systems interact with the citizenry. Secondarily, there needs to be more cross-talk between industry, civil society, and the academic organizations working to advance these technologies and the government institutions that are going to be representing them.” [read more]

Erik Brynjolfsson, director of the MIT initiative on the digital economy

“In this era of profound digital transformation, it’s important to remember that business, as well as government, has a role to play in creating shared prosperity — not just prosperity.  After all, the same technologies that can be used to concentrate wealth and power can also be used to distribute it more widely and empower more people.” [read more]

Kathy Baxter, ethical AI practice architect, Salesforce

“The three big categories [for building ethics into AI] are first, creating an ethical culture; then being transparent; and then finally taking the action of removing exclusion, whether that’s in your data sets or your algorithms.” [read more]

Liesl Yearsley, chief executive officer, Akin.com

“I think one of the most important things that government and industry can do is think beyond bottom line reporting, and more about the AI we deploy itself. This is a more influential technology than we have ever seen. [We need to think about] not just the conversational stuff we’re seeing today, but the future AI that’s going to be making complex decisions on our behalf. What is the impact AI is having on human lives? That’s where we need to go.” [read more]

Tristan Harris, co-founder and executive director, Center for Humane Technology

“By allowing algorithms to control a great deal of what we see and do online, such designers have allowed technology to become a kind of ‘digital Frankenstein,’ steering billions of people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors.” [read more]

Kai-Fu Lee, chairman and chief executive officer, Sinovation Ventures

“Some cultures embrace privacy as the highest priority part of their culture. That’s why the U.S., Germany, and China may be at different levels in the spectrum. But I also believe fundamentally that every user does not want his or her data to be leaked or used to hurt himself or herself. I think GDPR is a very good first step, even though I might disagree with the way it was implemented and the effect it has on companies. I think governments should put a stake in the ground and say this is what we’re doing to protect privacy.” [watch video]

Timnit Gebru, research scientist, Google AI

“We’re seeing a kind of a Wild West situation with AI and regulation right now. The scale at which businesses are adopting AI technologies isn’t matched by clear guidelines to regulate algorithms and help researchers avoid the pitfalls of bias in datasets. We need to advocate for a better system of checks and balances to test AI for bias and fairness, and to help businesses determine whether certain use cases are even appropriate for this technology at the moment.” [read more]

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