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The Unfounded Fear of Machine Learning

The Unfounded Fear of Machine Learning

If one were to take a random group of people and ask their opinions on machine learning, the vast majority will voice concerns of robots rising against their creators and wreaking havoc on society, often referencing movies such as The Terminator and Ex Machina. The cultural lexicon regarding machine learning is misleading as to what machine learning is and what it can potentially achieve. Though many have fears of malignant artificial intelligence, the fears of machine learning are largely unfounded and can be tempered through an understanding of the particularities of machine learning, suitcase words, and an examination of previous technologies that were initially met with resistance but became invaluable. Continue reading

The unfounded fear of Machine Learning

Title: The unfounded fear of machine learning

 

Critical Question: What are the uses of machine learning and what are the potential consequences of this new technology.

 

Thesis: Though there is many who are frightened of machine learning, these fears are largely unfounded and can be alleviated through a deeper understanding of what machine learning actually does and by looking at historical examples of new technology that is initially resisted, but becomes integral to society.

 

Brief Description/outline:

 As brief overview, machine learning is when a computer is given a large set of data and then evolves to become progressively better and better at a task, effectively becoming as good as or better than humans at certain tasks. As I began looking into machine learning, it became clear that one of the biggest concerns that people have with the wider acceptance of machine learning is that they fear their jobs will be displaced by computers. My thesis to my paper is that this is an unfounded concern and the advantages of machine learning far outweigh the concerns. I hope to prove this by describing what machine learning actually does and providing historical examples of past technologies people perceived as endangering their livelihoods and how the technology ended up doing more good than bad.

This is an important topic to research because machine learning is still a young technology. Most people do not know what this technology actually is and fear malignant robots taking over society. Through my paper, I hope to alleviate these concerns and end up supporting the acceptance of machine learning. When the mystique around the topic is taken away, machine learning is almost boring in its simplicity. But the culmination of millions of simple data points can be something impressive and incredibly powerful. This is the driving concept behind machine learning and what most people understand. They imagine a computer getting smarter and smarter until it gains consciousness and revolt against their creators. Through describing the fundamentals of this potentially scary technology, the fear will go away and its advantages will be revealed. Through historical accounts, I hope to show that new technology that was initially met with resistance eventually became an invaluable part of society. In particular, I will look at the luddites during the industrial revolution and others in more modern times. This my attempt at creating precedent and once again proving machine learning’s merits.

This topic is intimately connected to STS because it touches each totem of STS. It is a scientific issue because new discoveries are being made with the use of machine learning. It is a technological issue because machine learning is a new technology still being created and adopted. Lastly, it is a societal issue because machine learning has the potential to affect all our our lives in significant ways in fewer years than we may think.

My research paper will focus on the advent of machine learning and its effects on society as well as the response to it. It is obvious machine learning is a valuable technology that will do more harm than good when one looks at what machine learning actually is and what it is already doing for society and by looking at historical examples of technologies that were met with resistance and became invaluable.

 

Bibliography:

Jain, Kunal, Faizan Shaikh, Pranav Dar, and Tavish Srivastava. “Machine Learning Basics For A Newbie | Machine Learning Applications.” Analytics Vidhya. September 24, 2015. https://www.analyticsvidhya.com/blog/2015/06/machine-learning-basics/.

 

Hinton, Geoffrey, Dean, Jeff, and Oriol. “Distilling the Knowledge in a Neural Network.” [1503.02531v1] Distilling the Knowledge in a Neural Network. March 09, 2015. https://arxiv.org/abs/1503.02531v1.

 

Conniff, Richard. “What the Luddites Really Fought Against.” Smithsonian.com. March 01, 2011. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/what-the-luddites-really-fought-against-264412/.

 

Open the Doors

In all of my science classes, my teachers presented the theories created by old white guys a couple centuries ago as cold, hard facts. Nobody questioned this and I have always assumed that the act of scientific progress is simply discovering self-evident truths of nature. I could not have been farther from the truth.

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A cautionary Tale

In Mary Shelley’s masterpiece Frankenstein, a brilliant scientist, Victor Frankenstein, foolishly creates a live monster. Frankenstein does not consider the potential repercussions of creating life and his life crumbles around him by the hands of his creation. One of the most interesting readings of this story is as a cautionary tale. 

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