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Stanford University School of Medicine

Exploring the “ridiculously exciting” opportunities for artificial intelligence

Late last week my Twitter and Instagram were blowing up with photos of President Obama, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and entrepreneur/"Shark Tank" star Daymond John on the Stanford campus. Those three were among the 1,500 or so people who came to the university for the 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit, and there was clearly a lot of excitement.

The global summit offered participants a wide range of workshops, panels, exhibitions and networking sessions, with one of the highlights being an in-depth panel discussion on the future -- and societal benefits -- of artificial intelligence.

"In my own area of health and biomedicine, the opportunities [for AI] are ridiculously exciting," panel co-chair Russ Altman, MD, PhD, said during his opening remarks Thursday evening. He noted that the amount of biomedical data that electronic health records and "the little devices we wear" generate have become "far too big for us to interpret without intelligent assistance."

From there, 15 experts from government and academia, including keynote government speaker Megan Smith, the U.S. chief technology officer in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, discussed issues surrounding the technology. As described in a Stanford Report story:

Smith touched on how government is using artificial intelligence, machine learning and similar techniques in tasks ranging from planning space missions to forecasting job growth. But given the potential effects of these technologies on culture and the economy, she said government's larger challenge is to bring "humanity's greatest talent" to bear on the development and direction of AI by throwing open the discussion.

"How are we going to make sure we are bringing everyone into this conversation?" Smith asked, previewing an initiative that the White House is expected to formally announce Monday that will offer literally anyone a way to register an opinion or view on this emerging technology.

Smith's talk and others are available on the School of Engineering's Facebook page. The panel was co-hosted by Stanford's One Hundred Year Study on Artificial Intelligence.

Previously: 2016 Global Entrepreneurship Summit panel to explore the future of artificial intelligence
Photo by Krista Victoria Chew

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