25 August 2021

Increasing the Public's Trust in AI

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is perhaps the trend on every practitioners’ lips in the Data science and technology industries, but how can we ensure that it becomes widely accepted by the general public? 

This was the question MBN Solution’s Associate Director Kris McFadyen posed to co-hosts Megan Stamper and Andy McMahon on Episode One of ‘AI Right?’ Megan is a data scientist, fully equipped with a PhD in oceanographic fluid mechanics, whilst award-winning Andy was crowned Data Scientist of the Year at the 2019 International Data Science Awards. 

“As much as we love data science,” says co-host and data scientist Megan Stamper, “you can’t get it into practice in the real world unless you’ve got other people supporting it and trusting it. 

The panel went on to highlight that this trust can only be achieved once the wider public understands what abbreviations such as AI actually mean. 

“An important aspect of that trust is going to be demystifying what AI and ML actually is,” Megan continued. [But] I think people are more clued up than they were a few years ago.” 

Co-host Andy McMahon expanded upon this idea by suggesting that there is potentially miscommunication regarding what these new technologies do:  

“When we say AI – we don’t mean robots. We mean, back-end algorithms and software they use every day, things on your phone, things on your social media channel.” 

So, what can be done to ensure any miscommunication regarding AI is cleared up by the technology industry? 

“I think it’s partly our jobs as practitioners to help explain it"” says Andy. “What actually is AI and ML, and what is it actually doing in your day-to-day life?" 

Megan continued this point, “I think there’s been surveys that show the public is, more or less, in a 50/50 position of whether they trust it or they don’t. It’s about, ‘how do you convince people that it’s worth using in the first place?’ As much as we love data science, you can’t get it into practice in the real world unless you’ve got other people supporting it and trusting it.” 

So, informing the general public about what AI is, and what it does, could be the way for the technology to gain people’s trust. From this, it is likely we will see more integration of AI throughout our everyday lives. However, education must come from those who work directly with AI technology to highlight how AI can help improve all our day-to-day lives. 

Watch below to see Kris, Andy and Megan discuss how to improve trust for AI. For the full episode of AI Right?please click here.