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This week in AI, actuality got here knocking — each for AI well being tech and semi-autonomous driving techniques. IBM agreed to promote the property from its Watson Well being enterprise to funding agency Francisco Companions, following the division’s steeply declined efficiency. In the meantime, the Insurance coverage Institute for Freeway Security (IIHS), a nonprofit financed by the insurance coverage business, introduced a brand new rankings program designed to judge how effectively “partial” automation techniques like Tesla’s Autopilot present protections to stop misuse.
The dual developments are emblematic of the AI business’s perennial downside: acknowledging AI’s limitations. Slate’s Jeffrey Funk and Gary Smith do a thorough job of recapping overly optimistic AI predictions in recent times, together with Ray Kurzweil’s pronouncement that computer systems may have “human-level” intelligence and “the flexibility to inform a joke, to be humorous, to be romantic, to be loving, to be attractive” by 2029.
As any skilled will verify, AI is nowhere near approaching human-level intelligence — emotional or in any other case. (Kurzweil’s new estimate is 2045.) Equally, autonomous vehicles and AI-driven well being care haven’t achieved the lofty heights futurists as soon as envisioned they might attain. It’s an essential lesson in setting expectations — the longer term isn’t simple to foretell, in any case — but in addition an instance of how the pursuit of revenue supercharges the hype cycle. Underneath stress to point out ROI, some well being tech and autonomous car corporations have collapsed underneath the load of their overpromises, as this week’s information exhibits.
Using excessive on the Watson win in opposition to Jeopardy! champion Ken Jennings, IBM launched Watson Well being in 2015, positioning the suite of AI-powersed providers as the way forward for augmented care. The corporate’s gross sales pitch was that Watson Well being might analyze reams of medical knowledge — far sooner than any human physician might, ostensibly — to generate insights that enhance well being outcomes.
IBM reportedly spent $4 billion beefing up its Watson Well being division with acquisitions, however the expertise proved to be inefficient at finest — and dangerous at worst. A STAT report discovered that the platform usually gave poor and unsafe most cancers remedy recommendation as a result of Watson Well being’s fashions have been skilled utilizing misguided, artificial medical information fairly than actual affected person knowledge.
Watson Well being’s demise will be partially attributed to IBM CEO Arvind Krishna’s shifting priorities, however rising cynicism about AI’s well being capabilities little doubt additionally performed a task. Studies have proven that almost all eye illness datasets come from sufferers in North America, Europe, and China, which means eye disease-diagnosing algorithms are much less sure to work effectively for racial teams from underrepresented nations. An audit of a UnitedHealth Group algorithm decided that it might underestimate by half the variety of Black sufferers in want of larger care. And a growing body of work means that pores and skin cancer-detecting algorithms are usually much less exact when used on Black sufferers, partially as a result of AI fashions are skilled totally on photographs of light-skinned sufferers.
Semi-autonomous, AI-powered driving techniques are coming underneath comparable scrutiny, notably as automakers ramp up the rollout of merchandise they declare can almost drive a automobile themselves. In October 2021, Tesla was ordered to show over knowledge to the Nationwide Freeway Visitors Security Administration as a part of an investigation into the corporate’s vehicles crashing into parked automobiles. The suspicion was that Tesla’s Autopilot was accountable — both partially or entire — for the damaging behaviors.
It’s not an unreasonable assumption. Late final yr, Tesla rolled out an update to Autopilot with a bug that precipitated the automated braking system in Teslas to have interaction for no obvious motive. This precipitated vehicles to quickly decelerate as they traveled down the freeway, placing them susceptible to being rear-ended.
Tesla isn’t the one vendor that’s struggled to good semi-autonomous automobile expertise. A sobering 2020 research from the American Car Affiliation discovered that the majority semi-autonomous techniques available on the market — together with these from Kia and BMW — bumped into issues a mean of each eight miles. For instance, when encountering a disabled car, the techniques precipitated a collision 66% of the time.
In 2016, GM was forced to push again the rollout of its Tremendous Cruise characteristic as a result of unspecified points. Ford recently delayed its BlueCruise system in an effort to “simplify” the tech.
That brings us to this week’s information: the Insurance coverage Institute’s ratings program to judge semi-autonomous techniques’ security protections. The group hopes it’ll encourage automakers to create higher designs as soon as the primary set of rankings, at present in growth, are issued this yr.
“The best way many of those techniques function offers individuals the impression that they’re able to doing greater than they are surely,” Insurance coverage Institute analysis scientist Alexandra Mueller stated in a press release. “However even when drivers perceive the constraints of partial automation, their minds can nonetheless wander. As people, it’s tougher for us to stay vigilant once we’re watching and ready for an issue to happen than it’s once we’re doing all of the driving ourselves.”
That’s all to say that AI — whether or not self-driving or disease-diagnosing — is fallible, identical to the people who design it. Visions of a Jetsons future could be tantalizing, however when lives are at stake, historical past has proven that it’s finest to be overly cautions.
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