So far, AI has not garnered a good PR reputation. Both Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking believe that AI may be on a collision course with humans, and government organizations seem to feel much the same way, including The Committee on Legal Affairs of the European Parliament (part of the EU in Brussels). The UN, and the US Defense Department also have “Stop Killer Robot” movements regarding opposition to the possible use of autonomous weapons in war. The EU would like intelligent robots to be registered so they can assess their ethical character.
It might be because of all those sci-fi movies and television series like Battlestar Galactica and I Robot where the AI entities decide humans are too inferior to continue, but AI seems to carry a scary and imposing PR bend. It should be remembered that robots are simply doing the tasks they’ve been programmed to do; they are not sentient, nor are they able to conspire against humans. They are machines doing work that used to be done by humans.
AI capabilities are being added to cars – definitely a concept in many sci-fi stories over the past decades, but just because you purchase a self-driving car, you wouldn’t expect it to be out drumming up more pay as a taxi so it can pursue its goals and dreams of becoming a subway car or limo. And the different technologies using AI don’t mesh together easily. Just because your computer can play chess, doesn’t mean it could easily learn how to cook gourmet meals.
Many applications are being used for “machine learning,” which extracts useful patterns from data collections and big data. Machine learning applications are being used for recommendation systems on platforms like Netflix and Amazon. They help Google search research apply better to what you want specifically, or offer YouTube video descriptions. They can also trade stocks, steer cars, recognize faces, and more. But that’s not really artificial intelligence, rather it is the specific application of information that is already gathered and stored.
Much like putting a variety of people together with no possible connection in what they know or can do and expecting them to figure out something complex and specific like space travel or government strategy – they might do it, but it won’t be an efficient effort, and the result won’t be the best outcome. Various apps, programs, or other forms of AI tend to be so dissimilar that trying to connect them can get results, but it will take a lot of effort for something equal to holding your car engine together with bailing wire and duct tape.
PR for AI ventures tends to be bad because no one has any widespread and comprehensive answers to offer, so people with a theory (even a crazy one) that shout the loudest are what others hear about. There are more accurate titles than AI too; a closer fit might be statistical analysis or “anthropic computing.” Whatever the phrase, it needs to be broad and include a lot of possibilities from analyzing big data information to biologically inspired computer systems and machines that function similarly to what humans can do – interacting in easy and familiar ways with humans like Siri and Alexis.
The best PR choice for AI is to stop calling it that and stop thinking it can become something human. There is nothing out there that could even come close to that possibility and nothing that might get to that point in the next decade or two at least. In technological terms, that’s light years away from now.