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ACM Opinion

AI Needs Pragmatists and Blue-Sky Visionaries


A pair legs with army fatigues stands in a pair of muddy boots in a muddy field.

If blue-sky thinkers integrate the concerns of muddy-boots realists into their designs, they can create technologies that are more likely to advance human values, rights, and dignity.

Credit: romanwhite/Getty Images

Artificial intelligence (AI) thinkers seem to emerge from two communities: the blue-sky visionaries who speculate about the future possibilities of the technology and the muddy-boots pragmatists who are problem- and solution-focused.

While the futuristic thinking of the blue-sky speculators sparks our awe and earns much of the funding, muddy-boots thinking reminds us that some AI applications threaten privacy; spread misinformation; and are decidedly racist, sexist, and otherwise ethically dubious. The caution and practicality of the muddy-boots camp will benefit humanity in the short and long run by ensuring diversity and equality in the development of the algorithms that increasingly run our day-to-day lives.

From Scientific American
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