Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene denied that that there's widespread fear of AI, at least not among her corporate clients.
Speaking at Fortune magazine’s “Most Powerful Women” event in San Francisco on Wednesday, Greene told the audience that the executives who rely on Google to store and help them analyze their data as well as supply them with machine-learning tools, simply hunger for more knowledge about AI.
“I wouldn’t say that with the business (community) there’s fear of AI,” she said. “AI is sort of this disruptive way to improve things...and people feel an incredible urgency to understand what it is and what they can do about it.”
Greene sounded confident that AI’s future is a bright one. She said Google has hired the most AI experts of any of the top companies competing in the field and noted that the entire sector is short of developers.
Unease over AI
When it came to the public, Greene acknowledged that some people feel uneasy about AI.
Sure, it’s strange but Greene reasoned that every technology brings with it the potential to do evil as well as good. She submitted that the reason AI is on the hot seat now is due to its breathtaking abilities.
“Where AI comes in, it can do things that are very human, recognize things and see things,” she said, noting that machines couldn’t do those things before.
Earlier this month Google adopted a set of ethical principles around its use of AI, followingg criticism that the company was supplying AI tools to the US military. Asked whether every company should have a similar set of guidelines, Greene replied:
“I think it’s on everybody’s mind,” she said. “Actually, it’s a real frontier. Nobody knows how fast it’s going to go or where it’s going to go.”
One important aspect of AI that was not addressed by Greene however is the potential loss of jobs that will result from machines performing tasks that could once only be accomplished by humans. That's an obvious cause of angst for workers. But it's also an issue likely to be of concern to businesses, given the upheaval to the workforce and to society likely to occur as AI becomes more prevalent.
If Greene's corporate AI customers aren't thinking about that yet, perhaps they should be.