12 Jul 2023

Could AI be the First Intrinsically Positive Technological Transition?

Looking back at #LondonTechweek 2023, the promise of AI breakthroughs dominated our minds and social feeds.

Words by
Alex Carruthers
Cover Image Event


Looking back at #LondonTechweek 2023, the promise of AI breakthroughs dominated our minds and social feeds.


Rapid AI advancements on display, a pressing concern plays on our minds: how do we strike a balance between innovation and control? Ensuring that as we navigate the cutting-edge of AI, we mustn’t lose sight of the necessity for operational boundaries. At Advai, we continually emphasise that robustness and reliability are foundational, not mere afterthoughts, to the sustainable progression of AI.


Reflecting on historical technological milestones such as the wheel, the internet, or the industrial revolution, humanity once again stands at the precipice of a transformative moment with AI. While each revolution propelled humanity forward, they weren't without their challenges. With the wave of the AI revolution now upon us, the question remains: will we manage to minimise the adverse consequences that often accompany profound change?


Dive deeper below – “Could AI be the First Intrinsically Positive Technological Transition?”


Article originally published ahead of London Tech Week.

‘Bridging the gap between science and technology’ is one of the key callouts of London Tech Week 2023, held under the ‘True digital transformation & Next Tech Frontiers’ theme. Put simply, technology is when science becomes useable.

Today's AI climate is marked by nerve-wracking releases of ever more formidable tools. It seems every week there’s a new breakthrough: molecule discovery, autonomous military drones, generative content, and so on – it's never-ending.



Few would deny that self-learning software – machine learning – represents a technological revolution that could transform the world on a similar level to the wheel, the internet or the industrial revolution.


But technological revolutions always come with negative repercussions.

a) The wheel meant fewer donkeys were burdened, but also led to tanks.

b) The industrial revolution mechanised production and birthed modern capitalist markets but brought with it financial crises and climate change.

c) The internet created an explosion in information sharing but also became the platform for the perfect propaganda and social manipulation machine that has shaken the bedrock of democracy.



These were generally all solid ‘net positive’ advances for humankind. However, reflecting on the negative repercussions of these pivotal moments, three things jump out.


  1. The negative consequences borne from new technology tend to magnify over time because the technology can affect a greater number of people.


As a software driven intelligence, AI will be able to ‘go’ wherever computer chips are and will be able to ‘get there’ wherever the internet reaches. Automated decision-making AI systems will be literally laser-beamed through space to reach virtually any spot-on earth. Whether positive or negative, it’s clear the impact of AI will be pervasive.



  1. It seems like people at the time should have foreseen and prepared for these threats.


We’re not in the dark when it comes to the risks of modern AI.


  • Unreliable AI can lead to errors, or decisions made without balance and human oversight.
    Robustness = Knowing where AI breaks down guides where human oversight should be.

  • Reality can differ from a model's training environment.
    Robustness = We can train systems to recognise when they’re out of their depth.

  • Environments change over time, models can ‘drift’.
    Robustness = Processes can be put in place to help models gracefully deal with change.

  • Biased algorithms can perpetuate and intensify systemic prejudices, compromising fairness and equality.
    Robustness = Training data can be analysed for its representativeness and augmented.

  • A lack of transparency can cloak the unintended consequences of AI operations until they’re too late to rectify.
    Robustness = Well-documented systems can improve human accountability and identify hidden objectives.



  1. Artificial intelligence has the beauty of being programmable, so we can make it intrinsically trustworthy.


Perhaps most important, and unlike the wheel or the internet, AI systems are currently fully software and process based. At each step of the development lifecycle and throughout a system’s lifetime in use, robustness can be built into its very fabric. This breeds a level of reliability into AI that means you can ‘look away’ with confidence, not worry about blowback and trust that the system will work in line with human interests.



To conclude, each time we bridge the gap between science and technology it’s been marked by a transformation of human society and collateral damages. As we embrace AI, might we showcase our intellectual evolution and prioritise the reduction of collateral damage? Will we listen to the call to build robustness into our systems from the ground up? Robustness and reliability are not afterthoughts but lie at the very heart of beneficial AI.


AI may well be our first opportunity as a species to create an intrinsically positive technological wave of change.

Who are Advai?

Advai is a deep tech AI start-up based in the UK that has spent several years working with UK government and defence to understand and develop tooling for testing and validating AI in a manner that allows for KPIs to be derived throughout its lifecycle that allows data scientists, engineers, and decision makers to be able to quantify risks and deploy AI in a safe, responsible, and trustworthy manner.

If you would like to discuss this in more detail, please reach out to contact@advai.co.uk