Artificial Intelligence Ushers in Human-Centric Engineering Discipline, A new branch of engineering is being created that blends engineering with data-focused and learning-focused disciplines, as well as humanities and social sciences.
Over the past several decades, artificial intelligence has been besieged by rounds of hype that over-promised, under-delivered and nearly killed the field. Once more, Gartner positioned machine learning and deep learning at the top of its hype cycle, and all the publicity and potential often leads to a “trough of disillusionment” if the technology fails to deliver. Now that AI is reaching a tipping point of market acceptance, it’s important to be cautious and not repeat past mistakes.
In “Artificial Intelligence – The Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet,” University of California at Berkeley professor Michael I. Jordan injects such a note of caution. “The idea that our era is somehow seeing the emergence of an intelligence in silicon that rivals our own entertains all of us —enthralling us and frightening us in equal measure,” he writes. “Whether or not we come to understand intelligence any time soon, we do have a major challenge on our hands in bringing together computers and humans in ways that enhance human life.”
Tools have played a critical role in the evolution of humans since our ancestors first developed stone tools a few million years ago. “We shape our tools and they, in turn, shape us,” observed noted author and educator Marshall McLuhan in the 1960s.
Similarly, the machines of the 21st-century digital economy are making up for our cognitive limitations, augmenting our intelligence, problem-solving capabilities and ability to process vast amounts of information. Machine learning and deep learning are the latest examples of tools that are helping us cope with and take advantage of the huge amounts of information all around us.
Mr. Jordan argues that we are witnessing the creation of a new branch of engineering that will help us in the development of AI systems and applications, much as civil and mechanical engineering helped us develop tall buildings and airplanes over a century ago. Before the advent of these engineering disciplines, buildings and bridges were developed in fairly ad-hoc ways, and were much less safe and subject to collapsing in unforeseen ways. Over time, engineering advances have led to foundational scientific principles, development practices, and building blocks that significantly increased their safety and productivity.
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