By Khalida Sarwari
The rapid pace of artificial intelligence development and the impact it has had on our lives has been simultaneously ‘amazing’ and ‘terrifying,’ said Shawn Ramirez, the head of data science and engineering at Insight Data Science in Seattle.
From the cars that we drive to the products and systems that we use daily, intelligent systems have infiltrated every corner of our lives, and much of it has occurred just in the last five years, Ramirez told leaders in business, government, and higher education who gathered at Northeastern’s Seattle campus this week.
“It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in terms of how AI has changed and what it impacts in our lives,” she told the audience.
The conference was the first of a two-day event that followed on the heels of a survey conducted by Northeastern and Gallup which revealed an international cross-section of opinions about artificial intelligence as economies around the world undergo the transformative move to automation.
The poll found that the majority of people in the U.S, Canada, and the U.K. think that artificial intelligence will improve their lives, but also believe that higher education, government, and employers are not doing enough to improve their skills.
Compared to 34 percent of respondents in the U.K. and 37 percent of those polled in Canada, only 17 percent of American respondents reported feeling worried about losing their jobs as a result of artificial intelligence. But experts say they should be more concerned.
“There will actually be an incredible, substantive, measurable impact on individuals in all of these countries, and definitely in the U.S.,” said Stephanie Marken, the executive director of education research at Gallup.
While the poll results showed overwhelming support for lifelong learning opportunities, it also revealed pessimism toward higher education. Most graduates in all three countries reported feeling unprepared to work with artificial intelligence, and only three percent of U.S. respondents said they believe American universities adequately prepare graduates for jobs of the future.