Artificial intelligence (AI) is rapidly evolving, permeating various aspects of our daily lives, from ChatGPT and facial recognition to self-driving cars and virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri. This technological revolution is unfolding, and the implications and future trajectories are subjects of exploration by six UC San Diego experts.

The Unpredictable Future of AI

Terrence Sejnowski, a distinguished professor in the Department of Neurobiology, likens the current AI landscape to the early days of aviation, terming it the “Wright brothers stage.” A pioneer in neural networks, Sejnowski emphasizes that, like the unpredictability of early flight’s impact, the future of AI remains uncertain. Drawing from neuroscience principles, he envisions AI enhancing cognitive abilities, predicting a shift in job dynamics but ultimately making work more interesting.

Concerns on the Horizon

David Danks, a professor of data science and philosophy, expresses reservations about the ethical implications of AI, particularly in light of the multimodal GPT-4 release. He stresses the importance of acknowledging AI’s potential harms, such as misinformation spread, and advocates for proactive policies and regulations. Danks forewarns the dangers of realistic AI-generated content, urging vigilance in the face of technological advancements.

Game-Changing Applications in Scientific Research

In Stuart Sandin’s lab at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, AI-assisted tools are transforming the study of coral reefs. Marine ecologist Beverly French, a Schmidt AI in Science Postdoctoral Fellow, leverages AI to analyze massive datasets, accelerating the understanding of coral holobionts’ resilience to environmental stressors. AI, in this context, emerges as a game changer, expediting scientific discoveries without diminishing the role of human expertise.

Transformative Potential in Healthcare

UC San Diego Health pioneers the integration of Microsoft generative AI services like ChatGPT-4 into healthcare practices. Chief Medical Officer Christopher A. Longhurst sees AI as a transformative force, aiding physicians in responding to patient messages efficiently. The pilot program, while currently focused on doctor-patient messaging, hints at broader applications, including medical imaging analysis and diagnostic decision support.

AI’s Integration into the New Normal

As AI tools become widely accessible, R. Stuart Geiger, an assistant professor of communication and data science, anticipates increased public skepticism towards online information. Highlighting the potential for AI-generated disinformation, Geiger calls for ethical responsibility from developers and government intervention to address societal costs and protect against misuse.

A Nuanced Future for AI and Robotics

Laurel Riek, director of the Healthcare Robotics Lab, emphasizes the nuanced future of AI, asserting that ethical considerations must guide technological developments. Riek’s work in building AI-assisted technologies, such as the Cognitively Assistive Robot for Motivation and Neurorehabilitation (CARMEN), exemplifies a mindful approach to address real-world problems while prioritizing individual and community well-being.

By Impact Lab