Let’s Show But Not Tell Our Identities To AI

How To Have A Love-Hate Relationship With AI.

Abhishek Verma
Jan 10 · 6 min read

Article co-authored by Anju Mercian and Bala Priya C.

Do you believe magic is real? Well, let’s say so! AI is real and nothing short of magical. Owing to its wondrous capabilities, AI can help augment your life; from choosing your next best dress, discovering songs you would love, planning your next weight-loss diet tailor-made just for you, to doing imaginatively impossible things such as predicting where the next disaster can strike, where the next metro station should be, the company you should next invest in and the list goes on. It is the digital wishing lamp that grants more than 3 wishes.

Is it possible that AI can be so powerful? The truth is, it is powerful! And this power comes from you, me, and all of us. Yes, Us. We make or mar ourselves, it’s certainly true. When we see the positive and negative uses of AI, the onus of it lies upon us.

Unknowingly, for years, we uploaded our photographs on social media to connect with people, we gave out our names, our addresses, every single bit of information about us. If not that, in the name of our own security, we have given away our fingerprints, iris scans, and what-not. In the name of our own health, we give away our blood samples holding the key to our own existence, our genetic data, our medical scans unraveling the unseen parts of our own body. When AI becomes powerful, we need to understand our own part in it. It is not without the cost! But, this doesn’t surface until something from the dark side comes out to haunt us. We never understood the impact of AI until it was used negatively. AI has effectively changed how we live and how we are going to live. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Snapchat, and many more, all are FREE to use. But, in reality, the FREE services we get are never FREE. The cost we pay is our information.

How do I know you are you?

I remember your face, your voice, your gait.

But, there are some things more unique than this. Your fingerprints and your irises.

If you take your fingerprints or your iris, you can uniquely recognize yourselves in the 7.1 billion people that exist on Earth. While there are ways to still get around this uniqueness, it still remains to be one of the best ways to uniquely identify any individual.

Yes, we want everything instantly. It is not a surprise that the Japanese say their best invention in the 20th century is instant ramen. We want our phones to unlock in an instant, so we give our fingerprints or facial data to our phones and the corporations making them. We don’t like to go to banks for deposits or cashing out the money, so, we give away our fingerprints there for authentication. Our governments maintain law and order by keeping each of our identities safe (perhaps) in the form of our photographs, fingerprints, and irises. This again helps us if we want to get ourselves verified with the government or banks or literally anywhere.

This was not possible before. In yesteryears, there were people who verified your fingerprints. Yes, people used to sit down for this work. The same goes for anything you get instantly today. Life is as good as it could be since the inception of humanity on this Earth and the possibilities are still endless.

There is a discernible line between what is Good and what is Bad. The same data you gave for easing your lives can be used against you but obviously without telling you.

You would think that AI would have a problem if you put on your masks (the status quo for the Corona pandemic) but no. They are still that good and they don’t need your photograph with a mask for recognizing, they are that GOOD! When you have the full picture, the parts don’t matter much.

The facial data you gave away can then be used to track you. China is already doing it. In the interest of security, this can be done in our countries too for preventing crime and terrorism. It is a great thing but our privacy is the cost we pay!

AI also can really help us in the field of medicine. Despite 150 years of practicing scientifically-driven medicine, our problems have not ended.

There was a time when the average life expectancy of a human could not cross 50 in many countries in the world. Today, we have centennials amongst us. Well, we all wish to live a long and healthy life. Disease-free long-life is the optimum which we hope for and are striving for.

DeepMind with AlphaFold 2 has opened gates for pharmaceuticals to create new drugs easily. Again, from Google Health, we see AI applications that can detect eye diseases, acute kidney failure, lung cancer, breast cancer, and more.

One of the greatest advances in medicine, that would certainly be a reality a few years from now is personalized medicine which leverages the use of AI in understanding the nuances and nitty-gritty details of genomic data. The greatest promise of medicine is held inside something called personalized medicine.

If you and I take the same medication for a particular illness, it does help us both overcome the illness. But, the effect of the same medication is entirely different in both of us. Hence, not everybody gets the same side effects of the medicine. The key to it lies inside our genome. AI has helped us here also by allowing us to accurately understand genomic data.

But, be it, lung cancer, eye diseases, acute kidney failure, and others, all of this has come from us. It is from the scans of people among us that tell the AI what a healthy eye looks like and what a diseased one looks like.

What is today taken away from us in the name of easing our lives can as well be used against us. That is why it is important to show our data but not tell.

Even though this has happened as an afterthought, considerable efforts are underway in this direction.

There are ways in which you can give your data for the benefice of the whole human existence and yet preserve your privacy.

One way is to encrypt your data before you send it out and the AI on the other side learns from it without even knowing what is inside. We call it homomorphic encryption (probably a mouthful).

The other way is to become invisible inside the crowd. What the AI gets are the patterns that exist in the data (i.e. the crowd), not the individuals i.e. us. So, the AI won’t know you and me, but it would surely know that both of us have two eyes sitting on our faces. This is known as differential privacy. Anybody who tries to discover your or my identity from the data will return empty-handed.

It is time to realize that we are part of the millions of data-points on which AI is trained. Even so, there is a way to protect ourselves.

The battle between the good and bad has been eternal as the existence of this reality. You may stand on either side but to each his own. At the end of the day, to sleep peacefully; we need to protect our own identity and privacy. AI is miraculously helpful and we should give our data for the greater good. But, we should also learn to protect ourselves while doing that.

This article originally appeared on the Omdena blog

Omdena

Building Real-World AI Solutions Collaboratively

Thanks to Anju Mercian

Abhishek Verma

Written by

I am a Data Scientist. I like to write about concepts related to deep learning.

Omdena

Omdena

Omdena is a collaborative platform for building AI solutions to real-world problems through the power of bottom up collaboration.

Abhishek Verma

Written by

I am a Data Scientist. I like to write about concepts related to deep learning.

Omdena

Omdena

Omdena is a collaborative platform for building AI solutions to real-world problems through the power of bottom up collaboration.

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