AI shouldn't be held back by scaremongering: Michael Dell

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are just tools that can be wielded for good and bad, the Dell Technologies CEO has said.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
(Image: Dell Technologies)

Michael Dell has played down fears of artificial intelligence, saying AI will remain domain-specific for some time.

Speaking to journalists at Dell Technologies World, the eponymous chairman and CEO said a mindset of fearing new technology because of its drawbacks would have seen technology stop with fire and the wheel.

"Every technology creates good and bad," he said. "You can sit here and say, 'AI is really bad, we shouldn't have AI' -- that's nonsense. We have to figure out how to use it in a responsible way, that's our job.

"If you hold something back that's really powerful and good, fundamentally, it's like mostly good, that's just not going to work."

Dell said it is the responsibility of the technology industry to ensure AI is used for good purposes.

"These are powerful tools, but that's really all they are," he said.

See: What is AI? Everything you need to know about Artificial Intelligence

Citing past predictions that technology would spell doom for the world, Dell said that future had not to come to pass, and AI would be a force for good.

"I believe we are going to have mostly very good stuff, there'll be some bad people ... there's always 1 or 2 percent that are really bad," the CEO said. "We've got to figure out how to stop them."

While optimistic on the positive impacts of AI, Dell believes the technology will remain constrained to specific domains for some time.

"When you get into a specific business, the way the data is used is incredibly vertical. So there isn't one vertical software solution that is going to solve all those problems," he said. "Take what any of the most advanced companies in the world are doing with AI, it's artificial specific intelligence, not artificial general intelligence.

"The AI that's going to figure out how to do great surgery in the best possible way, that's not going to be the same AI that's going to be great at autonomously driving your car."

Earlier this year, Elon Musk said AI "scares the hell" out of him.

"Some AI experts think they know more than they do and they think they're smarter than they are ... this tends to plague smart people, they define themselves by their intelligence and they don't like the idea that a machine can be way smarter than them so they just discount the idea, which is fundamentally flawed," Musk said at South by Southwest.

"I'm very close to the cutting edge in AI, and it scares the hell out of me."

Musk said it is insane that there is no regulation around the use and development of AI.

"The danger of AI is much greater than the danger of nuclear warheads, by a lot and nobody would suggest that we allow anyone to just build nuclear warheads if they want -- that would be insane."

For his business, Dell said AI is already boosting its sales, and he expects the trend to continue, with businesses moving away from using cloud services for AI due to the cost and amount of data needed.

"It's kind of interesting to see this boom in edge computing, which I think has really just started," he said.

"Customers are figuring out this data is more valuable, and do we really want to send it all off to somebody else, and then rent it back?"

Disclosure: Chris Duckett travelled to Dell Technologies World in Las Vegas as a guest of Dell

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