CS492/692 - Spring 2016 - Assignment 4
Artificial Intelligence and its Threat to the Public
The field of artificial intelligence (AI) is concerned with creating
algorithms and systems that enable computers to carry out problem
solving tasks on behalf of users, ones that require a certain level
of sophisticated intelligence. Several applications of AI have
resulted in notable benefits to the public, including the use of
robots to search for survivors in disaster areas, improvements to
the design of online search engines and the mining of vast stores of
information to assist in medical decision making. Certain members of
the public have been increasingly concerned about the AI programs
that are being designed and the uses to which they have been put.
For example, increasingly clever machine learning techniques
suggest the possibility of launching man-made systems which have
the autonomy to take critical actions, without sufficient
control. The AI community is aware of these increasing
concerns and has begun to mobilize, examining what guidelines can be
developed for researchers to follow.
For this assignment you will be working in groups of 4 (with groups
being formed by the instructor and the TAs, in an effort to balance
the talents of the students of the class). You will be asked to
produce a report which covers the following topics: (i) what is
artificial intelligence? (ii) what are some of the possible benefits
of AI and why are they enabled by AI? (iii) what are some of the
concerns with current AI research? (iv(a)) what would you recommend
to AI researchers, in order to continue to enable benefits from
their research, but to address concerns from the public? (iv(b))
what do you recommend to the public, with respect to their actions
and reactions to AI research?
The assignment is due on Thursday June 30 at 10am. It should be on
the order of 2500 words. (Some kind of introduction and conclusion
should be included, in addition to the coverage of the four core
subtopics listed above).
This assignment examines a very topical social implication of
computers. This is a concern which can easily be misunderstood or
blown out of proportion by members of the public who are unable to
fully comprehend what can reasonably be produced from AI research.
The fact that the AI community itself has begun to reflect on the
limits of their own research makes the topic a very interesting one
to examine in detail. The challenge is to try to imagine what the
two primary sectors can do, when they are not operating with the
same level of knowledge, and how to continue to enable benefits to
accrue without limiting the kind of free exploration of research
that leads to critical new discoveries.
The focus for this assignment is on open-ended thinking, guided by
current articles on the topic. There is no right or wrong answer.
Students are urged to be creative and constructive in their