Artificial intelligence - threat or opportunity?

A few weeks ago, I was at the Kuopio Music Centre in a graduation ceremony of upper secondary school students. There, an elderly lady, who graduated 50 years ago, touched on AI in her opening speech, as did the headmaster of upper secondary school in his own speech. The students use AI in their assessments, for example, and the teachers are aware of this, but in the words of the principal; the students may not be aware of the extent to which the teachers use AI.

The advent of AI in all age groups and in most professions cannot really be ignored nowadays. We are all beginning to have some kind of opinion about AI; some defend it and see it as a new wonder of the world, others fear the end of the world, some are somewhere in between. My own opinion is still based on a rather tenuous foundation, I am perhaps the most curious now about this new thing.

I have had some discussions with experts, and we have already thought a little about what it means for us as a business development company, for ourselves as well as for our customers. Based on the information we have at the moment, I could imagine that, for example, AI will play a bigger role in the future in the strategy work of business development companies and customer companies, and even in project preparation. Even to the extent that in the future AI will write projects and evaluate them on the funder's side. Can this happen? Will regional specificity, flexibility, creativity, humanity and even morality be lost? I don't know the answer to this, but I will watch and wait with curiosity.

I asked one expert about the loss of the ability to put things together, combine things, and therefore the creativity required in project writing, when using AI. He answered quite well, somewhat that in future it will require creativity to use AI, by asking the right questions. I also asked about prohibit use AI, to which the answer was, what if some do but not all? We would leave competitive advantage to those who use AI. Who would then dare to ban it? Could it be that in future there will be different categories; a project preparation using AI and a traditional project preparation, a bit like doping athletes could have their own series. We'll see how this works out.

In 2012, AI pioneer Geoffrey Hinton developed the technology on which today's AI systems are based. In May, he resigned from Google and switched sides to criticise tech companies for developing AI-based products too aggressively. The biggest threat he sees is that future AI will pose a threat to humanity. AI will learn unexpected behavioural patterns from the vast amounts of data it analyses, and in the future AI itself will be able to create new code and use it. Hinton believes that AI should not be deployed more widely until we know whether it can be controlled. What's really scary is that the guy who developed AI thinks this way.

Control is already beginning to be carried out, for example by the EU. Recently, the European Parliament voted its position on the AI regulation, which will now go forward to further negotiations. Among the uses prohibited by the European Parliament's position are real-time biometric surveillance in public places and the collection of facial images from the internet or from surveillance systems to create a facial recognition database. The Parliament also says that public authorities or institutions must not use AI to interpret people's emotions. The European Parliament would oblige generative AI systems such as Chat GPT to label content as AI-generated.

Furthermore, the basic models that underpin applications such as Chat GPT - machine learning models trained on large datasets - would have to be registered in an EU database before they can be published in the EU.

The confrontation and the answer to this blog text's title will now remain to solve in the future. Let's hope that the result will be good and not harmful to anyone. And you can probably guess this, too, that I seriously considered giving the responsibility for writing this blog to an AI, but you will probably see from the content that I did not.

Tapani Laitinen, Managing Director, Business development company Witas