Stanford professor Fei-Fei Li, a pioneer in artificial intelligence (AI), says humans can play a compassionate role in shaping AI’s future, especially as there are growing concerns about individual privacy, possible job displacement and algorithmic bias. AI is no longer a computer science only study, but a multi-disciplinary study in which social scientists, legal minds and others can engage with the technology community to benefit AI’s development and its application in people’s lives. Li says AI will play a bigger role in society, especially in terms of labor. Caroline Fairchild chimes in that people of all professions can learn about the technology behind AI and how it works, enabling them to do their own jobs better as AI becomes integrated into company structures, government policy and beyond. Sociologists and others can help determine where and when to deploy AI and its effects, by answering questions like, “Are we asking the right questions to ensure certain biases are not baked into the technology?” Li adds that we need to inspire young, diverse people to think about AI in a different way so it is not only seen as computer science. She says we need to elevate the field to its human mission and attract those who want to improve health care, policy, the environment and more. Stanford’s program to open AI to those outside of technology fields has flourished, with high-school women and others spending two weeks or more learning about AI and its possible applications to improve the world. Over two weeks, Stanford camp participants heard lectures on various AI technology and each student joined a research group through which they learned coding and worked on a project. One such project focused on examining how autonomous vehicles could be used as an aging-assistive technology, such as using the vehicles to obtain prescriptions from the drug store and delivering it to the customer.
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