Google CEO: AI is more influential than discovery of fire

By Hannah Mitchell for Becker’s Hospital Review

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, said artificial intelligence’s social benefit is among the likes of fire, electricity and the internet, according to a BBC podcast interview published July 11.

Five things to know:

  1. “The progress in artificial intelligence, we are still in very early stages, but I viewed it as the most profound technology that humanity will ever develop and work on, and we have to make sure we do it in a way that we can harness it to society’s benefit,” Mr. Pichai said.
  2. Google is already using AI to drive innovations in healthcare. Mr. Pichai said AI will continue to play a fundamental role in every aspect of humans’ lives, such as healthcare.
  3. “I view it as a very profound enabling technology,” he said. “You know, if you think about fire or electricity or the internet, it’s like that, but I think even more profound.”
  4. Mr. Pichai’s comments come as AI is undergoing increased scrutiny for how it compounds existing biases. The World Health Organization released six principles of using AI ethically in June. The American Medical Association wrote a letter to Congress June 23, stating that algorithms have been proven in several cases to exacerbate social determinants of health.
  5. Google has been scrutinized for the ethics behind their algorithms. In May, Google said it was going to double its AI ethics team after there was fallout from several staff departures.
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