AI is already here, and there’s nothing to fear, say tech experts at SXSW


When we think about artificial intelligence, our over-active imaginations go immediately to things like robots taking over our jobs, drones tracking us from the skies and self-driving cars running us off the road.

The good news is, “AI is already happening, and you’re already liking it,” said Michelle Bacharach, co-founder and chief executive officer of FINDMINE Inc. “You just don’t know it, because it’s invisible in a lot of ways.”

During Intel’s “AI for Good – Autonomous World” panel held at the South by Southwest event in Austin, TX, Bacharach was joined by Jack Weast, chief architect of automated driving solutions at Intel Corp.; Joe Mayberry, manager of partnerships and acquisitions at Intel; and Suresh Acharya, head of JDA Labs at JDA Software Group Inc. They each brought their unique AI-oriented business experiences to the panel, discussing different aspects of AI and why we should embrace, not fear, AI.

SXSW is being covered by theCUBE, SiliconANGLE Media’s mobile live streaming studio. (*Disclosure below.)

The promise of smart cities

At the end of the day, the Internet of Things and AI promise to improve our lives, using data and machine learning to change the way that we live and work.

“As things become connected, smart and automated, AI is going to be at the heart of those new experiences,” said Weast.

A great example of this is smart cities. As they are developed, sensors are put up on light poles that can do things like track utilities, see and sense the environment. These sensors can talk to each other, as well as to smart vehicles driving by. A camera on a light post can observe an accident, and it can tell the difference between a fender-bender and a major crash. It can know if it should send out an ambulance or fire truck to help the driver.

“When you start to connect everything, that’s really where AI can come in and sense what’s going on. It can reason, and then it act on that,” said Mayberry.

Facing our fears

On the subject of AI taking away jobs from workers, “My general perception on this is, I’m cautiously optimistic. Human beings will continue to do things that are strategic, [and] human beings will continue to do things that are creative,” said Acharya.

He explained that when ATM machines first came out, many tellers were put out of work. However, the banking industry didn’t go out of business, they tellers found other things to do as banks expanded services and opened more branches.

While new AI technologies might have an initial, temporary impact to workers, Acharya believes that humans will find bigger, better and more creative things to do.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the South by Southwest (SXSW). (*Disclosure: Intel sponsors some SXSW segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither Intel nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

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