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Conference about “Artificial Intelligence and Quantum Computers”

There’s still so much to say and do about Artificial Intelligence. The public approaches the subject with distrust, fear and unconscious curiosity. The conference, held in Rome on May 17th, at the Pontifical Salesian University, “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Quantum Computers”, promoted by the Faculty of Social Communication Sciences of the University and FERPI, tries to give some answers, and to explain how the fear of the phenomenon derives more from an underlying “ignorance”, synonymous of non knowledge, and from a mainly induced information system, rather than from a real distrust in the technological future.

The speakers, all scholars, in the sense of professionals who approach the “new”, with empirical methodology and “super partes” approach, tell us how AI dates back to the ’60s, and after the first exploits, lives its “first winter”, that is, a departure from the media echo, until the ’90s, when IBM, always at the forefront in this field, rekindles the spotlight: it is the time of Deep Blue, and the first time a machine wins a human being at chess.

This story is just the antecedent: more recently, an English company has developed a robot, able to win a human at GO strategic board game, of Chinese origin.

The definition “Robot” comes from the phonetics of the word “robot”, which is equivalent to “work” in Czech language, and from the transposition of the play “Rossum’s Universal Robot” by Karel Čapek, utopian science fiction drama of 1920. If robots are replicants here, in the meaning with which the term will be used, from here on, it will indicate mechanical organisms.

The era of functional and service robots, defined as “Industrial Collaborative Robotics”, machinery in the service and aid of workers (www.fourbythree.eu) and welfare robots, is taking off, in anticipation of the increase, from now until the next few years, of the population over 60, to gradually accompany progress, from the smart home to the smart environment.

A project aimed at creating sensors to facilitate the social interaction of the elderly, as well as robots equipped with pressure gauges to control the assisted subject, was born.

All the complex processes are still missing; it follows that our attention must be shifted towards tools that “reason” and can actively contribute to our well-being.

The speech by Federico Mattei of IBM, relative to quantum technology in Italy, is significant: we speak, albeit with the same acronym, of “Augmented Intelligence”. In a schematic slide, the different “capabilities” of man and machine are listed: where the first “talks — listens- reads — chats — sees”, the second “understands, reasons (does not perform calculations but evaluates and compares only hypotheses), learns (logical consequence of how to program, starting from if/then examples, as with children), interacts (chatbots with a shift, in the future, towards debate, debate). We will move, in the diagnostic field, from Narrow AI (meta-human accuracy and speed for some fields), to an expansion in favour of Broad AI (multidisciplinarity), to approach the final goal of General AI (transversality of learning and reasoning towards a wider autonomy). From the application of the definitions that we will have to introduce in the research, such as “fairness, explainability, security, accountability”, transparency will have to represent the starting and finishing point of this long path, whose first results are not expected before three to five years, going to define the purpose, so that artificial intelligence is and remains always to support and never to replace the human being. All computing will have to be rewritten, to rewrite history.

Francesco Sacco Bocconi, in his speech, makes us understand how all infrastructures are governed by artificial intelligence, that’s why 5G technology assumes fundamental importance: in an age, in which millions of data travel, and in which the speed of connection and the energy used are often decisive, a digital traffic jam would become not only unthinkable, but also dangerous. The next objective is the management of simultaneous information and energy peaks.

In work, there is an increasing fear of future human unemployment, to the benefit of machines. Saverio Lovergine, from INAPP, introduces us into the fourth industrial revolution, the one we are going to live: technologies must reformulate the man-machine relationship in the tasks to be performed, creating a “comparative advantage”.

Mauro Grigioni, from the Research Centre of the ISS, talks about a future under the banner of quality assurance, thanks to the stakeholders, both in the diagnostic and therapeutic fields. Our health care must be based on two cornerstones: universalism and fairness, because the implementation of new technologies goes beyond the walls of a hospital and must go hand in hand with training, which takes on the same contributory value, in the name of promoting awareness and a knowledge infrastructure that is fair and respectful.

Artificial intelligence, today, here, takes on an ethical guise: I take up an exercise by Luca La Mesa, the next speaker, who says: “when competence meets knowledge, new solutions are found”. One does not have to fear the new, or technology, it is neither good nor bad, it makes the difference, the use that is made of it. There are drones, able to identify whether in an apartment, the temperature in a room is higher: what does that mean? The higher temperature in a room usually indicates that drugs are being produced in that room, but this technology is not used by the police to catch criminals, but by the cartels, to find and eliminate the competition.

A young man has created, with an old telephone, a device able to recognize, in the forests, which are full of deafening noises and not as silent as we imagine, the sound of a saw, to help the forest ranger to stop anyone who wants to cut down a tree, to prevent deforestation, the first cause of climate change.

Felicia Pelagalli of Culture, brings back the focus on trust, on a renewed trust in utopia, understood as vision and not as illusion: we must not go faster but in the right direction. Artificial intelligence must also take on this task, to guide an ethical as well as technological development, precisely because algorithms, neural networks, also absorb prejudice (an experiment on facial recognition showed to be 99% accurate on white male men, but only 34% on dark-skinned women). Neural networks lack two exquisitely human components, understanding and intuition.

Daniele Chieffi of Agi Factory, who, as an expert communicator as he is, exposes us to today’s collapse between cognitive bias, algorithms and technological context: the data we have today, our social interactions, have made us learn to look and not to observe. He shows us the phenomenon, inspired by a promotional photo, from the set of “Jurassic Park”, in which the director, Steven Spielberg, was posing in front of a triceratops, simulating a typical hunting scene, and how the photo in question was able to trigger the most fierce and unbridled protests of the fans, who had not even noticed that the animal portrayed was extinct for millions of years. We are in a filter bubble, we live in perfect glass houses, and we create a narrative impact, in which the perceived truth is the told one. It is up to us, therefore, to become governors of perception and no longer mere communicators.

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Raffaella Aghemo, Lawyer

Lawyer and consultant for innovation technology, IP, copyright, communication & marketing, likes movies and books, writes legal features and books reviews