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  • Writer's pictureMeirav Peleg Landau

The AI Black Box

Updated: Jan 3

MPL Innovation

The promises of technological advancement vs. the pressing need for transparency. The AI "black box" has long been a source of both fascination and frustration. While AI systems have achieved remarkable feats, the inner workings of these algorithms often remain shrouded in mystery.

This enigma presents us with a paradox. On one hand, AI systems have transformed industries, from healthcare to finance, promising efficiency, automation, and innovation. On the other hand, they have raised important concerns about ethics, fairness, and accountability. How do we reconcile these advancements with the need for transparency in AI decision-making?

Sundar Pichai, Google's ceo and the AI black box

Unveiling the Black Box

The AI "Black Box" metaphor stems from the inability to fully comprehend how AI systems arrive at their decisions. These systems often operate as complex neural networks with countless interconnected nodes, making it challenging for humans to interpret their inner workings.

Imagine you have a medical AI diagnosing diseases based on medical images. It might correctly identify ailments, but you can't easily trace how it arrived at a specific diagnosis. This lack of transparency is at the heart of the issue.

During an interview on the "60 Minutes" show, Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, shared his definition of the “Black Box”:

“There is an aspect of this which all of us in the field call a "Black Box”. You don’t fully understand and you can’t tell why it said this or why it got wrong. We have some ideas, and our ability to understand this gets better all the time, but that's where the state of the art is.”

AI and the Human Brain

In the same interview, when Pichai was asked why they do not fully understand how it works, but yet released it to society, he shared an insightful analogy that sheds light on the challenges of understanding AI decision-making. Pichai compared AI systems to the human brain:

“I don’t think we fully understand how a human mind works either.”

Countries In this analogy, Pichai highlights the opacity of AI decision-making. Just as we can't peer into the inner workings of the human brain to understand every thought and decision it generates, AI systems, especially complex neural networks, can be equally enigmatic. They process vast amounts of data and make predictions or decisions, but the exact mechanisms behind those decisions can be elusive.

Pichai is of course correct as we do not fully understand how the human brain works.

We can observe brain activity through imaging techniques like MRI, yet the processes underlying consciousness, decision-making, and creativity remain elusive. Despite centuries of study, we're still uncovering the mysteries of our own cognition.

In a similar vein, AI, though based on algorithms and data, can operate in ways that confound our understanding. While we can train and fine-tune AI models, comprehending their every decision remains a formidable challenge.

But Pichai didn’t answer the full question he was asked: how come AI was released to the public?

To watch this part of the interview ➡️


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