ADAPT Radio kicks off new series, HumanAIse, with episode on Artificial Intelligence and Science Fiction

28 September 2022

ADAPT Radio launched its new series this week called HumanAIse, a podcast that provides an in-depth look at the future of AI, automation, and the implications of entrusting machines with our most sensitive information and decisions. This ADAPT podcast series will feature conversations with a range of ADAPT experts who explore the future of AI and human input.

To kick off the series, we join ADAPT Academics, Professors Owen Conlan and Benjamin Cowan, as they discuss Artificial Intelligence (AI), Science Fiction, and the ethical considerations underpinning the work ADAPT is doing to advance AI. Professor Conlan is an internationally recognised thought leader in the field of Personalised Visualisation based in Trinity College Dublin and Professor Cowan is a UCD Associate Professor who specialises in voice UX and Conversational User Interfaces.

The podcast highlights movies that many of us have grown up with that have made significant impressions on our lives and how we think about AI from the exciting prospect of flying cars in ‘Back to the Future‘ to the grim post-apocalyptic landscape of ‘Mad Max‘. However, Professors Conlan and Cowan call us to consider what is closer to the truth in our near future. For example, you may have seen ABBA’s recent ‘hologram’ tour and heard about Mark Zuckerberg entering the ‘Metaverse’, but what else can we expect from the coming decade and how might these technologies evolve to become seamless in our lives? 

Prof. Cowan discusses a paper he co-authored recently that approached the question of what people actually want from artificial intelligence. This addresses such questions as to whether people want a truly conversational interaction with their devices and are there particular psychological barriers that prevent us from recognising that conversational systems and humans have different capabilities and functions? He also elaborates on the hidden complexity of devices such as Amazon Echo and Google Assistant. For most of us, we give our device a command and it either completes it or it doesn’t. In reality, the conversation is much more complex with certain task orientated and social natures to it, as Prof. Cowan explains.

Prof. Conlan also discusses the increasing challenges humans face in understanding what happens when we ask digital agents to represent us and do tasks for us. He gives a thought-provoking example of what would happen if the digital avatars we use to represent ourselves interact with others in ways that we would not. He also discusses how TV shows like Black Mirror identify potential negative and positive aspects of AI, sounding a warning before the technology is actually made.

Finally, according to Prof. Conlan, from a society perspective, we need to reflect on what we want the role of technology to be going forward. Prof. Cowan also elaborates on how AI has been beneficial for many people. Utilising it to assist with tasks like diary management and making chatbots more natural may seem mundane but have improved our interactions with technology immensely. He also highlights ongoing movements such as AI for Social Good as providing very beneficial assistance with addressing ongoing societal challenges.

ADAPT Radio: HumanAIse is ADAPT’s newest podcast series providing an in-depth look at the future of AI, automation and the implications of entrusting machines with our most sensitive information and decisions. ADAPT Radio is available on SoundCloud, iTunes, Spotify, and Google Podcasts.