There is no technology miracle

"All the data in the world are only as useful as the institutions and leaders that govern its use." - Shoshana Zuboff

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Recent headlines about the role of AI in the fight against COVID show the mismatch between people’s expectations and what’s possible. Those that think AI is overhyped are finding plenty of places to point this out, while the hype merchants push isolated solutions that are often divorced from the overall system in which the algorithm operates.

It’s just techies doing techie things because they don’t know what else to do.

- Bruce Schneier, Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society

Neither extreme is productive but they do show how AI, robotics and autonomous technologies are often misunderstood.

A core misunderstanding is how AI gets its start. AI runs on data and if that data doesn’t exist, there’s no way for AI to begin to understand the world. This means that the current crisis is also a crisis for AI.

You cannot “big data” your way out of a “no data” situation. Period.

- Jason Bay, Government Digital Services, Singapore

The world’s data has been completely disrupted by coronavirus. The impact on the accuracy of AI—particularly AI that relies on supervised learning techniques and in predictive applications such as demand forecasting—must surely be significant.

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