Earlier this week, I asked a question on social media: What is the most important problem that the AI community should work on?
Thousands of you responded. The most frequently mentioned themes included:
- Climate change and environmental issues
- Combating misinformation
- Healthcare including Covid-19
- Explainable and ethical AI
Thank you to each person who responded. I have been reading and thinking a lot about your answers. Many of the most pressing problems, such as climate change, aren’t intrinsically AI problems. But AI can play an important role, and I’m encouraged that so many of you want to do good in the world.
Each of us has a role to play. But we rarely succeed alone. That’s why community matters.
To my mind, the defining feature of a community is a shared set of values. The medical community prioritizes patients’ wellbeing. When one doctor meets another, their shared priorities immediately create trust and allow them to work together more effectively, say, consulting on complex cases or building initiatives to help underserved people. The academic community also has a history of collaboration stemming from its shared belief in the value of searching for and disseminating knowledge. So, too, in other fields.
We in the AI community may share many aims, but the first step toward being more effective as a community is to converge on a set of values we can all stand behind. I believe that if we do this, we can tackle much bigger problems with much greater success.
So what, my fellow deep learners, does the AI community stand for? The task of organizing ourselves to tackle big problems together will come later. But first, we need to define the common ground on which we will stand. Many of us hold a strong belief in lifelong learning, sharing information, and working on projects that make society better off. What else? I have ideas of my own, but I would love to hear yours. Please reply to firstname.lastname@example.org or let me know on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.
None of us can solve even one of these issues single-handedly. But working together, I’m optimistic that we can have a huge impact on all of them.