Artificial intelligence - threat or opportunity?

In spring 2023, I was at the Kuopio Music Centre at the graduation ceremony for new matriculation examination graduates. There, an older lady who was a graduate from 50 years ago touched on artificial intelligence in her opening speech, as did the principal of the upper secondary school in their speech. Students use artificial intelligence in their assignments, for example, and this is known by teachers, but in the words of the principal: the students may not know how much the teachers use artificial intelligence.

The inclusion of artificial intelligence in all age groups and the majority of professions can no longer really be ignored. We are all starting to have some opinion about artificial intelligence; some defend and experience 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 rather shaky ground, and I am perhaps first and foremost curious about this new issue at the moment.

I have discussed the matter with experts to some extent, and we have already considered what it means from the perspective of our development company, for us and our companies. Based on current information, I could imagine that artificial intelligence will play a larger role in the strategy work of development companies and companies and, in project preparation, for example. So much so that in the future, artificial intelligence will write the projects and score them on the financier's side. Can this happen? Will regional characteristics, flexibility, creativity, humanity and even morality disappear? I don't know how to answer this, but I'm curious to watch and wait.

I discussed with an expert how to combine and compile things, and at the same time, we also considered the loss of creativity required in project writing when using artificial intelligence. He answered quite well, somehow so that in the future, it will take creativity to use artificial intelligence by presenting the questions asked from it correctly. I also asked about banning the use of artificial intelligence altogether, to which the answer was: what if someone bans it but not all? This leaves the potential competitive advantage for those using artificial intelligence. Who dares to deny it then? Could it be that there will be different categories in the future: projects prepared using artificial intelligence and projects prepared by traditional methods, somewhat as if doping athletes had their own category. We’ll see what happens.

In 2012, Geoffrey Hinton, a pioneer in artificial intelligence research, developed the technology on which the current AI systems are based. In May, he dismissed himself from Google and switched sides in order to criticise the way technology companies develop AI-based products too aggressively. He considers the greatest threat to be that the artificial intelligence of the future will pose a threat to humanity. Artificial intelligence learns unexpected behaviours from the huge amounts of data it analyses, and in the future, it can create and use new code itself. Hinton believes that artificial intelligence should not be used more extensively until it is known whether it can be controlled. What is actually scary about this, is that the guy who developed AI thinks so.

Control is already starting, for example, from the EU. The European Parliament recently voted on its position on the Artificial Intelligence Regulation, which is now proceeding to further negotiations. Uses prohibited by the European Parliament's position include real-time biometric surveillance in public places and the collection of facial images from the Internet or surveillance systems to create a facial recognition database. Furthermore, in the Parliament's view, public authorities or institutions must not use artificial intelligence to interpret people's emotions. The European Parliament would oblige generative AI systems such as Chat GPT to mark content as produced by AI.

The basic models that lay the foundation for applications such as Chat GPT, i.e. machine learning models trained with extensive datasets, must, in the Parliament's proposal, be registered in a database maintained by the EU before they can be published in the EU.

The juxtaposition in the title and the answer will now remain for us to resolve in the future. Let’s hope that the outcome will be good and not harmful to anyone. And you can probably guess that I was really seriously considering giving AI the responsibility of writing this blog, but you will probably notice from the content that I didn't.

Tapani Laitinen, Managing Director, Regional Development Company Witas Ltd