Your artificial intelligence questions answered

by | Nov 10, 2023 | Home and Living

Artificial intelligence, or AI, has become a hot-button topic as generative AI programs such as ChatGPT are now available to the public. Here are some common questions and concerns to help you better understand it.

What is artificial intelligence?
Put simply, AI is a computer program that is pre-programmed to analyze and complete tasks typically done with human intelligence, such as recognizing a face or driving a car. That might sound right out of science fiction to some, but artificial intelligence is not limited to tech experts or people on the cutting edge of what’s cool.

Who uses it?
You might not even realize it, but some form of AI is likely already a part of your day-to-day life. If your phone auto-completes your text messages or emails, if you use a customer service chat window online or if you have a smart home assistant that recognizes your voice, you’re already using AI to make your life easier.

AI programs can also be a useful tool to help you generate ideas or start research for homework assignments, projects at work or travel itineraries. No one should claim AI-generated content as their own, but it can save you time in the information-gathering and brainstorming phases of a project.

How worried should you be?
Like any powerful tool, AI brings risks along with rewards. If you’re worried about it taking over the workplace or humanity, you can rest easy – AI tools don’t possess human-like smarts and generally only excel at the specific tasks they are trained to perform. There are limits to its abilities, and with a lot of AI-generated content, humans still need to review and confirm its accuracy.

For example, while an AI program may seem to interact with the information or questions that users enter, its output is still passive. It won’t push back on your assumptions and may even invent statistics to respond to the prompts provided. Anyone who uses AI will need to hone their critical thinking skills.

Instead of leading to unemployment, it appears that our skill sets will shift as AI becomes more normalized, just as they did as the internet became a routine part of life. At the same time, there are certainly many considerations to think about as you look to use it in your day-to-day life.

What are some common risks?
Researchers have shown that AI programs can show bias, as the output is only as good as the input. When AI models are trained on data that contains bias, AI will replicate and potentially increase this bias. What’s more, AI may present users with incorrect information on a particular topic simply because that detail often shows up across the corners of the internet. Bias and misinformation are risks, and people must carefully review and think critically about its output. We’ll all need to stay aware of developments in AI to avoid being duped.

Ethics is also an important part of conversations about AI – whether it’s schools creating policies and educating students about AI or companies deciding how to use it responsibly and providing employee education.

There are many resources to help foster this conversation among adults, students or executives and boost your knowledge of the ever-evolving space of AI. The Telus Wise program has been around for 10 years, providing free educational workshops and tools to help everyone understand digital tools –including AI – and how to stay safe using them.

Find more information at telus.com/wise

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