There are few more credible authorities on artificial intelligence (AI) thanHilary Mason the New York-based founder and chief executive of the data science and machine learning consultancyFast Forward Labs.
So, I asked Mason, who is also theData Scientist in Residenceat Accel Partners and theformer Chief Scientist at Bitly, whether todays AI revolution is for real? Or is it, I wondered, just another catch-all phrase used by entrepreneurs and investors to describe the latest Silicon Valley mania?
Mason who sees AI as theumbrella term to describemachine learning andbig data acknowledges that it has become avery trendy area of start-up activity. That said, she says, there has been such rapid technological progress in machine learning over the last five years to make the fieldlegitimately exciting. This progress has been so profound, Mason insists, that it is making AIclose to the heart of our new innovation economy.
But in contrast withthe fearsof prominent technologists like Elon Musk, Mason doesnt worry about the threat to the human species of super intelligent machines. We humans, she says, use machines as tools and the advent of AI doesnt change this.Machines arent rational, she thus argues, implying that there are many more important things for us to worry about than an imminent singularity.
What does concern Mason, however, are questions about the role of women in tech. Thats a question interviewers like myself should be asking men rather than women, she insists. It just createsextra burden for female technologists and thus isnt something that she wants to publicly discuss.
Many thanks to the folks at theGreater Providence Chamber of Commercefor their help in producing this interview.