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Tech pioneer Martha Lane Fox calls for ‘rational and reasonable conversation’ over AI

Over the past few months, artificial intelligence has been busy making headlines left and right as more and more generative AI tools start to emerge: from generating dope images of Pope Francis via MidJourney and forming AI K-Pop idols to letting ChatGPT write your paper and creating a website code through GPT-4.

As these AI generative tools continue to infiltrate our daily lives, some people in the tech industry, however, have mixed feelings about it. Some have welcomed AI, while big names in the industry are calling for its operations to be halted just a few weeks ago.

In an open letter published in the Future of Life Institute, some of the biggest tech leaders and researchers called for a “pause” on the development of AI systems for at least 6 months as they “pose profound risks to society and humanity.”

The letter, which included signatures from Twitter CEO Elon Musk, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak, and De La Salle University Professor and University Fellow Dr. Raymund Sison, also stated that if a pause “cannot be enacted quickly,” the government shall intervene and institute a moratorium.

“Powerful AI systems should be developed only once we are confident that their effects will be positive and their risks will be manageable,” continued.

Amidst the hysteria over AI, British tech pioneer Martha Lane Fox also joined the conversation and shared her sentiment on the controversial AI technology.

“Clearly right now, everybody is, more than ever, talking about the impact of AI. And I think [that] whether you love it [or] whatever you think about it—whether it’s gonna destroy or improve society, AI has given people a way of, I think, understanding what this might be,” Lane Fox told BBC in a recent radio broadcast interview.

Lane Fox added that much like all the other transformative technologies introduced to the world, she acknowledged that AI can cause general anxieties but at the same time, it also opens new opportunities.

“I think if you look at any impact of transformative technologies, you have that kind of stress point where everybody is wrestling with [the thought of] what it’s gonna look like,” she explained.

She then continued that while some jobs may be going, AI can also offer new job creations. And for her, rather than becoming “too hysterical or hype-driven,” people should focus more on “having a rational and reasonable conversation” over AI.

“I think that having a rational and reasonable conversation is the important thing and not becoming too hysterical or hype-driven, but looking more carefully at what is actually happening and how we can mitigate the risks and double down on the opportunities,” she emphasized.

She then urged businesses to think carefully about how they will integrate AI because no one can stop the emergence of such a system.

“There’s no point in sitting here saying, ‘AI is going to destroy the world.’ Well, it’s happening, right? Technology isn’t slowing down. It’s speeding up with digitization. So we have to decide whether we’re going to digitize in a way that is ethical, that is inclusive, that is sustainable,” she said.

Lane Fox has been a force to be reckoned with in the UK tech and business scene.

In 1998, she co-founded lastminute.com with Brent Hoberman. lastminute.com is an online travel and leisure retailer that was considered to be the Britain version of Amazon. Since breaking into the scene, she has been regarded as one of the “strongest voices” in the UK tech sector.

After departing from lastminute.com, Lane Fox launched a karaoke company called Lucky Voice and joined the board of different companies.

She also served as a digital adviser for the UK government and even entered the House of Lords in March 2013, where she became its youngest female member at the age of 40. This has earned the tech pioneer the title of Baroness Lane-Fox of Soho in Westminster City.

Most recently, Lane Fox is serving as the president of the British Chambers of Commerce.

Apart from this, Lane Fox also joined the board of Twitter in 2016 as a non-executive director up until Musk took over the platform in October 2022.

When asked about her experience during the legal battle between Musk and Twitter at the time, Lane Fox described it as “exhausting.”

“I’m still kind of winding down from that experience,” Lane Fox admitted. “I feel unbelievably lucky to have had a front-row seat to one of the most extraordinary corporate events over the last decade.”

The digital pioneer also shared that the jury is still out on Musk’s impact on Twitter as it’s still too early to tell, but said it will be interesting. She even warned to not underestimate Musk and Twitter.

“I think a huge amount of changes are happening clearly and I think some of it is just too early to tell what the platform would be like… I wouldn’t underestimate Elon or Twitter,” said Lane Fox.


Other POP! stories that you might like:

Filipinos online deal with nostalgia as iconic web forum PinoyExchange bids goodbye

This Chinese 3D device allows long-distance relationship couples to kiss ‘virtually’

New AI tool can create a whole website code just from a picture of a hand-drawn sketch–in seconds

AI K-Pop idols are already having dating scandals

David Guetta uses Eminem’s deep fake voice in his latest track, says ‘future of music is in AI’

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