Government leaders should not fear artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies, but they should lay the groundwork to prepare for their wider use, a leading academic said at a Route Fifty event this week. Public and private sector leaders tend to fall into one of two camps when they think about the AI-enabled future, said Yelena Yesha, the Knight Foundation Endowed Chair of Data Science and AI at the University of Miami Frost Institute for Data Science and Computing.
Some feel AI will solve all society’s problems, she said, while others fear its potential to cause harm and worry it will negatively impact the world. Instead, Yesha, who has worked for decades in federal agencies including NASA and the National Science Foundation on topics like e-commerce and how to harness the growth of the internet, said AI technology can empower and augment certain jobs and make them more efficient. But it will not be as Earth-shattering as some people fear.
“I think we have to make sure that we give adequate respect to the technology, but the technology should not be oversold,” Yesha said during the GovExec State and Local Government Tech Summit. “In the case of AI, the people coming to me who are very intelligent people in very high positions, they’re thinking it’s magic. AI is not magic.”