President of Skoltech: AI expansion will inevitably lead to social changes

Artificial intelligence will increase the gulf between those who do intellectual work and those who don’t,” President of Skoltech and Full Member of RAS, Alexander Kuleshov, declared on Radio Mayak.

Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) gives rise to a lot of speculation, scientists are confident that it will make humankind smarter. According to the President of Skoltech, whose Center for Computational and Data-Intensive Science and Engineering (CDISE) ranks among the world leaders in Machine Learning and Data Science research, “AI endows man with tremendous opportunities for creativity by taking care of routine tasks.” He stressed, nevertheless, that we should be prepared for profound social changes that are likely to occur very soon with the advent of new technologies.

According to a recent survey by the Russian Public Opinion Research Center (VCIOM), over 10% of Russians are circumspect about AI. As for the expert community, it voices concerns about the biased nature of AI, poor understanding of its effectiveness and the dangers this may entail. “Only someone’s evil intent but not a computer alone can enslave man,” argues Skoltech President.

According to the study performed by the Digital Economy Project Office at the Russian Government’s Analytical Center (AC) and VCIOM, the majority of Russians feel positive about AI being used in various fields, although few understand what it is all about. The study is based on VCIOM’s survey conducted last October at AC’s request and involving a total of 1,600 Russians aged 18 and over.

Most Russians are positive or neutral about the spread of AI. 48% reported interest, admiration, enthusiasm or confidence in the technology, 31% were neutral, 7% showed surprise and other emotions, and 12% were negative. The situation being what it is, the respondents were the most positive about potential implementations of AI in science (72%), industry (69%), and transport (66%),” the study report said.

The negative attitudes come mostly from fear of technical failures (31%): 17% of the respondents mentioned equipment malfunctions, 8% said that machines can go out of control and 6% believed that, generally, humans are more reliable. Other reasons for negative opinions are threats to personal data safety (21%), data breach and theft (12%), privacy violations (9%), unfathomable consequences of AI usage (5%), lack of knowledge about the impact of AI applications (12%) and bad feelings about human interaction being replaced by machines (16%).

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