Society needs to take control of how artificial intelligence is integrated to ensure it is used to the benefit of humanity.
AI seems to be celebrated and feared in equal measure, with stories about the potential benefits in areas such as healthcare countered by those claiming automation will wipe out millions of our jobs.
A ‘Minority Report’ future where our every move is tracked is a real possibility, according to Hedgehog Lab’s Chris Brock, but also presents exciting possibilities.
“AI will be the way forward,” he told BusinessCloud. “At the minute we’re so split: we’ve got a tablet, an Apple Watch and a phone.
“But at some point we’ll be wearing glasses or contact lenses and will be using AI to locate people and put the right information in front of them.
“You could walk up to our company’s stand in a conference and the tech would recognise our logo and tell you what turnover we have, how many people we employ. It will be a seamless integration of technologies [such as AI, augmented reality and the Internet of Things].
“They’re going to be able to track people’s eyeballs: you’ll walk into somewhere full of advertising and they’ll be able to see which ads you’re attracted to, and which ones you aren’t.
“It presents all sort of terrifying possibilities – and fascinating and great ones, too.”
— Chris Brock (@ChrisBrock44) February 28, 2018
Brock says that the techies building the AI are so concentrated on the technology itself that they are not concerned with ethical considerations around their application.
“AI doesn’t care about morals at the moment – the guys who build it just want to replicate human behaviour,” he explained.
“They’re not there to work out what that means within society – it is society itself which needs to take a hold of that.
“We had the industrial revolution, which fundamentally changed the whole world that we live in. Now we’re going to have the AI revolution… many of the jobs we have today are going to disappear through automation but with that, there’ll be new opportunities.”
Brock is head of commercial services at the Newcastle-headquartered Hedgehog Lab, which is ranked independently at number one for mobile app development in the UK and Europe.
The firm was founded a decade ago and now has offices in London, the United States, Denmark and India. It has grown its staff from 65 to 115 in the past year alone.
“What we do is almost like cognitive therapy,” he said. “Clients come to us with an identified problem – in terms of an equation, it would be ‘A’, if A+B=C.
“They know the ‘C’ they want to get to, but don’t know the ‘B’. That’s where we come in.”
The people heading up Hedgehog Lab’s departments can call upon a wide range of technology experience.
“Dr Russell Collingham, who heads up our engineering department, is a past lecturer at Durham University and a doctor in computer science and AI,” Brock said.
“Shaun Allan, our director of immersive technologies, was at the forefront of video game development in the Eighties.
“We’ve built solid teams. The guy who runs our design department is an industrial designer.
“We bring a holistic view to clients’ needs.”