Dr. Jeffrey Funk explains how you can see AI for its true nature
On August 8, Wow AI’s Chief Marketing Officer, Mr. Joel Milag had a brief yet insightful conversation with one of Worldwide AI Webinar’s keynote speakers, Dr. Jeffrey Funk. Dubbed as “the myth buster” of the industry, Dr. Jeffrey Funk gave us a peek into the topic he will be discussing this September 29-30.
 

About the speaker

 
After receiving a Ph.D. from Carnegie Mellon University, he has worked for both private companies and universities. For instance, he helped many companies introduce successful mobile Internet services in the early 2000s while working as a professor at a Japanese university. The research he conducted during this time earned him the NTT DoCoMo Mobile Science Award.  
 
In 2007, he moved to the National University of Singapore in 2007 where he taught a unique course on the economics of new technologies. 
 
He is the author of 5 published books including Technology Change and the Rise of New Industries in 2013. He has been writing about new technologies over the last few years in Issues in Science & Technology, Scientific American, IEEE Spectrum, Slate, Quartz, Fast Company, Market Watch, and Mind Matters.
 
Dr. Funk will be a keynote speaker at Worldwide AI Webinar this September.
 

On how to assess AI-enabled tools and applications for their true potential

Dr. Jeffrey Funk looks at AI directly in the face, evaluating the early applications. Despite having a strong academic background, his approach to new technologies is factual rather than predictive. He thinks the key decision for any firm, large or small, is to focus on the right application and the augmentation of workers in that application instead of going for moonshots, or what he calls “wildly ambitious effort that had little chance of a quick payoff”. 
 
A prime example is an intention to eliminate all radiologist jobs and healthcare automation, starting with IBM Watson. In 2016, Geoffrey Hinton, known as one of the grandfathers of Artificial Intelligence and Deep Learning, claimed it was “quite obvious that we should stop training radiologists”. Six years later, not one radiologist has been replaced by a machine and it doesn’t seem as if any will be soon.
Then, other firms began to jump on board. In May 2018, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, presented a demo of Google Duplex, an AI system that can make calls for you using unrecognizable natural language and tone of voice.  Elon Musk 2019 promised that Tesla would introduce 1m of driverless taxis by 2020. 
 
Yet, here we are, halfway into 2022 and none of this has truly happened. Billions of dollars invested and an AI-dominant world is yet to occur as predicted. 
 
Dr. Jeffrey Funk argues that people have been too optimistic. One of the main causes for these optimistic projections came from books such as Rise of the Robots by Martin Ford and A World Without Work by Daniel Susskind, where the authors based most of their findings on research and applications described in academic papers or products offered by unprofitable startups. He also stated that it’s natural for many people to want to believe that they are part of some big historical change. 
 
Instead of books, journals, papers, or viral articles that overpromise and underdeliver with their clickbait headlines, vague wording, and wild forecasts, he advises that we assess existing products and services and how well they are performing. We must look at what an application is doing and how successful it is. 
 
Additionally, Dr. Funk believes AI implementation is a complex process and takes time to succeed, even with AI augmentation.
 
Gary Marcus, an NYU professor and the author of Kluge - a New York Times Editors' Choice, shared the same idea in his article:
 
“Big corporations always seem to want us to believe that AI is closer than it really is and frequently unveils products that are a long way from practical; both media and the public often forget that the road from demo to reality can be years or even decades.”
 
For the public to have a more informed stance on AI, Dr. Jeffrey Funk feels the need to address the assessments of technologies transparently, which is exactly what will be delivered at the Worldwide AI Webinar. Top AI experts and tech giants’ executives will discuss the most-talked about AI trends and controversies and answer any questions the participants have.
 
Secure a spot at the Worldwide AI Webinar here.
 
Watch the whole interview here.