Friday, January 17, 2020

Turning AI's opaqueness transparent

IBM experimented with adding Urban Dictionary data to its artificial intelligence system Watson, only to scrub it all out again when the computer started swearing at them.
Source: Because Internet: Understanding the New Rules of Language by Gretchen McCulloch

I find this quote to be far more interesting than what McCulloch intended. Artificial intelligence is frequently portrayed as a “black box” into which humans have no way to directly peer. That is, computers have exceeded human at least in terms of being able to handle the data it used to come to its conclusions. Apparently there's more to the story.

If IBM was able to add a whole set of data into an AI mix, and later decided it wanted to remove it (“scrub it all out”), then apparently the data that AI uses to come to its conclusions is not so imparsible or unreachable by humans.

I've never believed AI (a man-made algorithm) with data was unattainable or undiscernible by humans, but this is the first time I've seen the black box argument so clearly undercut.

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