Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies have generated both excitement and concern. As researchers who have served in leadership positions in the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI), we are writing to provide a balanced perspective on managing the progress in the field. We also seek to broaden and strengthen the community of engaged researchers, government agencies, private companies, and the public at large, to ensure that society is able to shape the future of AI while managing its risks.
AI is already enriching our lives – often in ways that we may not notice. AI powers our navigation systems, is harnessed in thousands of daily cancer screenings, and sorts billions of letters in the postal service. However, the potential of AI extends far beyond the myriad valuable applications that operate behind the scenes. For example, in just the last two years, AI has revealed the structure of hundreds of thousands of proteins, and it is being used to enhance the quality of care in hospitals, to perform fine-grained predictions of weather, to guide the development of new materials, and to provide engineers with creativity-boosting ideas. We believe that AI will be increasingly game-changing in healthcare, climate, education, engineering, and many other fields.
At the same time, we are aware of the limitations and concerns about AI advances, including the potential for AI systems to make errors, to provide biased recommendations, to threaten our privacy, to empower bad actors with new tools, and to have an impact on jobs. Researchers in AI and across multiple disciplines are hard at work identifying and developing ways to address these shortcomings and risks, while strengthening the benefits and identifying positive applications. In some cases, AI technology itself can be applied to create trusted oversight and guardrails to reduce or eliminate failures. Other technologies, such as cryptography and human-computer interaction design, are also playing an important role in addressing these problems. Beyond technology, we see opportunities for work in policy, including efforts with standards, laws, and regulations.
Ensuring that the future of AI is employed for maximal benefit will require wide participation. We strongly support a constructive, collaborative, and scientific approach that aims to improve our understanding and builds a rich system of collaborations among AI stakeholders for the responsible development and fielding of AI technologies. Civil society organizations and their members should weigh in on societal influences and aspirations. Governments and corporations can also play important roles. For example, governments should ensure that scientists have sufficient resources to perform research on large-scale models, support interdisciplinary socio-technical research on AI and its wider influences, encourage risk assessment best practices, insightfully regulate applications, and thwart criminal uses of AI. Technology companies should engage in developing means for providing university-based AI researchers with access to corporate AI models, resources, and expertise. They should also be transparent about the AI technologies they develop and share information about their efforts in safety, reliability, fairness, and equity.
We encourage the AI research community, and specifically, the AAAI and its members, to expand their multiple efforts on AI safety and reliability, ethics, and societal influences, building on the many existing conferences, workshops, and other activities studying both the short-term and longer-term effects of AI on people and society, incentivizing and celebrating strong work on addressing societal and ethical concerns, and integrating topical tracks on responsibilities and ethics into flagship conferences and other scientific meetings. We hope others will join us in our mission to harness the future of AI for the betterment of all humanity.
Francesca Rossi, IBM (AAAI President, 2022-2024)
Stephen Smith, Carnegie Mellon University (AAAI President Elect, 2024-2026)
Bart Selman, Cornell University (AAAI President, 2020-2022)
Yolanda Gil, University of Southern California (AAAI President, 2018-2020)
Subbarao Kambhampati, Arizona State University (AAAI President, 2016-2018)
Thomas Dietterich, Oregon State University (AAAI President, 2014-2016)
Manuela Veloso, JPMC AI Research (AAAI President, 2012-2014)
Henry Kautz, University of Rochester (AAAI President, 2010-2012)
Martha Pollack (AAAI President, 2009-2010)
Eric Horvitz, Microsoft (AAAI President, 2007-2009)
Alan Mackworth, University of British Columbia (AAAI President, 2005-2007)
Ron Brachman, Cornell University (AAAI President, 2003-2005)
Tom Mitchell, Carnegie Mellon University (AAAI President, 2001-2003)
Bruce Buchanan, University of Pittsburgh (AAAI President,1999-2001)
Randall Davis, MIT (AAAI President, 1995-1997)
Barbara Grosz, Harvard University (AAAI President 1993-1995)
Patrick Hayes (AAAI President, 1991-1993)
Raj Reddy, Carnegie Mellon University (AAAI President, 1987-1989)
Ed Feigenbaum, Stanford University (AAAI President, 1980-1981)
The views and opinions expressed in this document are those of the signatories and do not necessarily reflect those of their institutions.