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UK to join Davos AI board

Theresa May, Brexit

British prime minister Theresa May will use her appearance at the Davos-based World Economic Forum today to outline a view on artificial intelligence and also to commit the UK to taking part in the organisation’s AI group.

We foresee a small problem (yes, we know we always do) in that so many disparate items are currently lumped together, accurately enough, as “AI”. We wonder whether the term is now so broad that it risks becoming meaningless.

May is speaking primarily about the sort of AI that operates on social media and, as the Times’ emailed Red Box political newsletter said this morning, can target an ad to an individual super-accurately or remove any reference to nudity at will, but which so far appears incapable of detecting hate speech or violent images.

It’s reasonable to highlight this, we suggest. We’re less clear, however, that it’s helpful to lump this in with the Google Home, Alexa, Siri and other technologies that people have dotted around their lives, or indeed the contact centre faculties that are already becoming real and getting low-level management done by robots and artificial intelligence.

Put simply this is a can of worms that needs opening and to be made transparent. Whether a politician or group thereof, briefed on the state of last year’s technology, is quite the person to assess and act on what’s going on right now is another matter.

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