A computer scientist's responsibility

Back dated: 2013-11-04

AI to solve the world's problems...

This post has been brewing in my mind for the past few months, and has been shaped during the most part of this year. This could in fact be a very long piece, but I will try keep it short, subjective, and to the point. I do however want to add that this is simply my point of view.

To quote the film National Treasure...

If there's something wrong, those who have the ability to take action have the responsibility to take action.

I believe that computer scientists owe it to the world to help solve "the world's biggest problems/challenges". I'm not saying that you need to work gratis or anything, I am just overwhelmed by the insanity of wasting technology - on what can potentially change the world - on something as fickle as a business solution.

I understand people have mouths to feed, or you may simply enjoy the programming and that may be enough for you, but after seeing just a glimpse of what artificial intelligence has in store for the world's problems I can't help but feel that (I myself) Computer Scientists in the AI field have some sort of responsibility to society to solve unimaginable problems.

A simple example

For the last AI varsity assignment that I completed I had to apply two algorithms on classification problems. I found some interesting problems on the UCI Machine Learning Repository, two of which I was very excited to use in my assignment.

One data set was Parkinsons where with 30 various voice measurements you can diagnose a person as "Parkinsons" or "Healthy".

Another data set was Breast Cancer where with 30 measurements of a digital image of a breast mass you can diagnose the breast sample as "Malignant" or "Benign".

These problems have incredible potential to change the world, yet they slipped into a varsity assignment of mine. The issue I have with research is that what is researched is very seldom applied to real world problems, but has the potential to have great impact.

Where do we go from here?

The world needs an (attractive) system to facilitate the social formulation of problems, the collection and preprocessing of data for those problems, and a library containing the appropriate CI algorithms to apply on the formulated problems.

This is something that I feel very passionate about, and regardless of where I make my living, this is one of my ongoing goals.

Interested?

Simon van Dyk

Read more posts by this author.

Johannesburg, South Africa