Fei-Fei Li Delivers the 2022 Tanner Lecture on AI and Its Impacts on Humanity
The Stanford computer scientist spoke to Yalies in a captivating conversation about the human perspective and artificial intelligence.
Omar Ali, collaborating photographer
At a Tanner Lecture on Wednesday, renowned Stanford professor of computer science and co-director of the Institute for Human-Centered AI, Fei-Fei Li, discussed the profound impacts of humanistic artificial intelligence.
Li served as Vice President of Google and Chief Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning Scientist at Google Cloud during a sabbatical during the 2017-2018 academic year. His work focuses on the ethics of the development of algorithms and artificial intelligence. Li is also the creator of ImageNet, a crucial project and substantial dataset that has contributed to the most recent advances in deep learning and AI.
During the conferenceLi said ImageNet has used neural network algorithms to achieve success in object recognition in the field of computer vision.
“Some call it the fourth industrial revolution,” Li said of object recognition. “The field of computer vision has really blossomed because of this.”
The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, founded by Obert Clark Tanner and Grace Adams Tanner of the University of Utah, aims to instill intellectual promise and moral awareness – fueling courage and introspection of one’s place in society .
The lectures are held at seven participating universities – Yale, Oxford, Stanford, Cambridge, University of California, Berkeley, University of Michigan and University of Utah – during the 2021-22 and 2022-23 academic years. This event was open to the public and organized in collaboration with the Whitney Humanities Center.
“As humanists, we [Whitney Humanities Center] collaborated across campus, with a far greater reach than usual,” Diane B. Brown, associate director of the Whitney Humanities Center, told the News. “We have personally invited professors and graduate students in computer science, data science, psychology, philosophy and beyond. We have designed this public lecture – and a private event tomorrow – as truly transdisciplinary.
According to Brown, psychology professor Marvin Chun had described Li as one of the most influential researchers in the history of AI.
In 2012, the winning algorithm of the ImageNet object classification challenge, called AlexNet, significantly reduced generalization error and ushered in a new era in the deep learning revolution. ImageNet has been used in approximately 40,000 citations and provides universal data for image classification.
In his lecture, Li talked about preventing the impending effects of AI on society. People, she said, need to understand the true nature of non-artificial artificial intelligence: made by humans, meant to behave like humans, and therefore affecting humans as well.
Li explained how visual perception and intelligence are deep and contextual, which means AI needs to sensitively reflect those nuances. Li aims to bring the fuzzier dimensions of human experience into AI, noting that “relationships between objects must be coded.”
“We want to build technology that helps humanity,” Li told The News.
Li described a motivation to improve the human condition by using AI constructively by exploring social and ethical dimensions in robust algorithms. During her talk, she carefully considered the intersection of visual and artificial intelligence to enable computers to imagine what humans see.
She also analyzed the labor threat issue with existing labor shortages, noting that “AI should augment, not replace human capabilities.” Li also explained how AI can be used to improve quality of life, including easing the burden on doctors working in overcrowded emergency rooms.
Brown wrote that Li”eloquently showed the human stakes of AI” by explaining “how AI can augment, not replace, human labor”.
“I was skeptical at first, but it’s interesting when you study these things, you start to learn more about yourself,” Robert Orr, a participant and New Haven-area city planner, told The News. “Those are our idiosyncrasies, our differences, and when they materialize, that’s when things start to happen.”
Past Tanner speakers have included Elaine Scarry, Salman Rushdie, Oliver Stacks and Judith Butler.