Happy New Year! Three Aspirations for AI in 2021

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Dear friends,

Happy New Year! As we enter 2021, I want to share with you three wishes I have for AI in the upcoming year. I hope we can:

  • Narrow the gap between proofs-of-concept and production. While building good models is important, many organizations now realize that much more needs to be done to put them into practical use, from data management to deployment and monitoring. In 2021, I hope we will get much better at understanding the full cycle of machine learning projects, at building MLOps tools to support this work, and at systematically building, productionizing, and maintaining AI models.
  • Strengthen the AI community with shared values. As a community, part of our success has come from welcoming with open arms anyone who wants to join us. But over the past decade, we’ve grown from thousands to millions across the globe, and this has led to more opportunities for misunderstanding and misalignment. It is more important than ever to establish a shared set of values, so we can support each other in doing good. Let’s make sure the AI community doesn’t splinter into different factions like the political sphere in some countries. We need to put more energy into understanding each other, have vigorous — yet civil — debates, and hopefully still come together as one community.
  • Ensure that the outcomes of our work are fair and just. The issues of bias and fairness in AI have been widely discussed. Much difficult and important work remains to be done in those areas, and we must not relent. Meanwhile, AI’s contribution to wealth inequality has received less attention. Many tech businesses are winner-take-most businesses. What is the fifth most valuable web search engine? Or the fifth most valuable social media company? As tech infiltrates every industry from agriculture to zymurgy, it’s spreading these winner-take-most dynamics. Are we creating a world where the wealth is concentrated in a small handful of companies in every industry? How can we ensure that the massive wealth we help to generate is shared fairly?

I have great optimism for AI in 2021, and for the role you will play in it. I look forward to wrestling with these and other challenging problems with you.

Keep learning!



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