AI the Black Box

Business of AI Apr 27, 2021

It sounds like an age old question - What is AI ?

Well there are thousands of explanations floating around in the space trying to fit your thought process. But still nevertheless in the simplest language put -

Every action that has a pattern, can be automated and such a system is called ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE.

The next obvious question is then what is this article about ? Have you ever wondered about the computation capacity of a human or the memory storage or may be even how it does such complex tasks ? Now answering those questions is just the HOW of it.

But what about the WHY part of it, Why does our brain process it in a certain way, why can't it push its boundaries, why does it need supervision ? These are few of the many questions which are unanswered.

We asked so many questions, but one of the most crucial question is WHAT ? What does the system learn or What are the implications of its learnings on the society or maybe What is the limit to which it can evolve?

The above mentioned questions are some of the most trivial and mind boggling questions which are mostly left either unanswered or intentionally avoided. But why would someone do that? Mostly it's because people just have answers to bits and pieces of it, but that's never enough. Like it's quoted -

You can never understand everything. But, you should push yourself to understand the system.
-Ryan Dahl (Creator of  nodeJS)

Before moving forward lets take this time to answer some of the questions. We know that our brain comprises of neurons and they interact with each other via electrical impulses through their synaptic nodes. Over the past decade our researchers have been successfully able to replicate these functionalities with what we today call as Deep Neural Networks. It's not only the way that they interact via 1's and 0's but also the way they learn.

These systems are trained using machine supervision and provided with Ground Truth values with their respective raw data, so as to teach the system to learn and identify the Features and Patterns occurring within the data. The same way our brain tries to attach itself to certain colours, shapes, textures and even surroundings to understand the existence of an object. In the same manner the system learns every aspect of the entity by performing complex matrix operations to extract relevant information.

But the question still stands to what extent can we imitate who we are ? Because physics says a 100 % transfer of energy is never possible.

In present day the state we are in, we are able to mimic every complex task as a separate action to be performed by the Artificial Intelligence, but what happens when AI starts to evolve to a stage where multi-tasking becomes possible, when it becomes almost impossible to differentiate between fabricated information VS reality. It's at these compelling hours that the Ethics and Accountability of AI comes to light.

We all appreciate what AI has done for us and is doing to uplift the society. But at the same time we also need to consider the implications of introducing such highly intelligent systems into our society. With the rate of advancement in technology it's not far when Wall.e, Terminator or JARVIS is just another everyday phenomenon. Not to raise a red flag but as fiction goes each AI had a different impact over the society.

Even though we believed that AI was a Black Box and we couldn't get a complete understanding of how or what is learns. But thanks to the extravagant frameworks being build by the AI community to help developers get a better grasp over the fundamentals of Deep Neural Networks. Tensorboard and Shap are few of the leading platforms for Explainable AI.

Above is a sample of what kind of features are learnt by an AI at various levels of a neural network, giving us a bigger picture of the capabilities and the scope to which such a simple architecture can be stretched across to.

Everyday AI takes leaps ahead into the future and it becomes really tedious to keep up with the research. Based on the discussion above, we know that AI is not a complete mystery anymore and the PANDORA's box has been opened. There are still several questions left unanswered for us to speculate and contemplate on.

I hope this article finds you well and triggers the curiosity within you to come out and explore the unexplored. AI is a ground where one is only bound by imagination. Stay tuned for more mind boggling content to guide you through the labyrinth of AI. 😁


Vaibhav Satpathy

AI Enthusiast and Explorer

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