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A people-centered approach to AI

Adobe wants AI to be inclusive—helping everyone, everywhere, work smarter and collaborate more

A people-centered approach to AI

In recent years, the debates surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) have grown at a pace that’s arguably been surpassed only by advances in the tech itself. In business, for example, there is a lack of consensus around the most impactful use-cases for AI. It’s therefore not surprising that more than three out of four businesses say they’re barely breaking even from their AI investments, even as a supermajority consider it a mainstream technology—according to research from PWC.

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Discussions in the social sciences focus on even greater stakes, from the impact of bias in AI, to concerns about safety and security, to the question of whether the tech could have dire consequences for humanity.

The common thread across these debates is the question of humanity’s role in AI’s future. Some see AI’s greatest promise in areas where AI replaces human beings and human endeavor. At Adobe, we see things differently. We take a people-centric approach to AI, viewing it as something to help people, not replace them.

From this people-centered perspective, AI is “augmented” intelligence that empowers people to do things faster, cheaper, and better both at work and in their day-to-day lives.

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PEOPLE-CENTERED AI

What does people-centered AI look like?  It’s AI that benefits people—all people. It’s AI that’s accessible to the many rather than the few. It’s intelligence that helps more people do more things more easily, effectively, and efficiently: from editing photographs, to reading restaurant menus on their smartphone, to shopping online for that perfect pair of shoes that matches their personal style. It’s intelligence that allows humans beings to accomplish things which would otherwise not be humanly possible, like building puppets from still webcam images, or instantly transforming libraries worth of data into actionable business insights.

People-centered AI is what makes computing more immersive, enjoyable and, yes, powerful. It’s what makes it possible for businesses to put the “personal” in “personalization” by empowering the brands we trust to use real-time data and insights to create digital experiences just for us, as individuals—to deliver customized, curated one-to-one experiences to millions of us in milliseconds.

What’s more, people-centered AI is technology that’s designed and trained in a way that puts people first, with ethics, responsibility, transparency, and inclusivity at the forefront—incorporating human oversight and diversity of perspective throughout its development. It’s AI that’s deployed without black boxes—AI that lets people see under the hood and understand what it is doing for them.

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THE PROMISE HAS ARRIVED

When AI is viewed through this people-centric lens, it’s abundantly clear that it is not merely a future bet; the promise of artificial intelligence has already arrived.

At Adobe, we’re constantly amazed at all the ways people are using the hundreds of features built on our AI-engine, Adobe Sensei—and infused across our products—to create, get work done, and deliver amazing digital experiences.

Since we first introduced PostScript in 1982, creators have used our tools to express themselves. With AI, they’re taking things to another level: designing realistic 3D models without costly photoshoots, putting dialogue into the mouths of cartoon characters, and even removing “photobombers” from the background of pictures and videos.

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Digital artists tell us that creating with our AI tools can feel like dreaming out loud.

What’s more, creative professionals tell us that by eliminating tedious and mundane tasks, they’re freeing up more time to do actual creating. A senior graphic designer at Vistaprint, for example, told us that “We’re improving the quality of our designs because we don’t need to spend hours searching for the right photograph or editing complicated artwork.”

When it comes to delivering digital experiences, our enterprise customers—80% of whom are using our AI-powered capabilities—report that AI-powered personalization is helping them build deeper, more trusted relationships with consumers while producing better business outcomes for their brands. A recent Adobe study found that upwards of 70% of consumers report that content which is relevant to them personally boosts their trust in a company. More than half say they trust companies more that use tech to deliver personalized experiences.

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“It’s like a light bulb turns on when our customers realize that we really care about them,” Steve Schultz who runs marketing technologies for ESRI told us.

In a digital economy that’s increasingly headed to a “cookie-less” future where businesses can no longer rely on third-party data to inform their experiences, AI empowers organizations to learn and do more with first-party data. For example, AI-powered capabilities in Adobe’s Real-Time Customer Data Platform instantly transform data into insights and make it possible for businesses to engage in millions of personal, one-to-one interactions with their customers at the same time and in real-time, all while protecting users’ privacy and choice.

Beyond content creation and experience delivery, the promise of people-centered AI can also be found in the reams of paper and gallons of fossil fuel that people are saving with intelligent tools for digital documents and forms that empower them to work smarter and be more productive—whether they’re working in a corporate boardroom, their living room, or a room with a view in a rental miles away from their home or the office.

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People-centered AI just makes things easier. Need to add a new entry to your contacts? Easy, just point your smartphone at a business card and AI will take care of the rest. Need to read a document created on a 32-inch monitor on your 6-inch mobile phone screen? Easy, just open it on your smartphone, and AI can reformat it. Need to sign a lease on a new apartment in a new city? Easy, just point your phone at it, and let AI figure out where to sign on the dotted line—which, by the way, you can now easily do digitally.

AI AND OUR COMMUNITIES

Of course, all this is for naught if AI isn’t developed in an ethical, responsible, and inclusive way. For AI to be truly people-centered it must be designed with people’s privacy, safety, and security in mind. At Adobe, we spent several years listening, learning, discussing, developing, and ultimately implementing a compressive set of ethical AI standards and guidelines that focus on three fundamental principles: accountability, responsibility, and transparency.

These aren’t just words to us, they’re the way we operate. In fact, we built them directly into our engineering structure to make sure they shape every stage of a product or feature’s development, review and deployment. Our AI features pass through a review board that reflects the diversity of human perspectives that are necessary to inform better AI, including racial and ethnic diversity, gender diversity, and diversity of sexual orientation, professional experience, and background.

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If our AI review board doesn’t deem that an AI product or feature meets our highest ethical standards it is not deployed. Period.

PEOPLE-CENTERED AI IS A CHOICE

Bringing AI to humanity with a people-centered approach is ultimately a choice. As companies, as communities, and as global citizens each of us has a role to play in ensuring that AI’s present and future happen for the advancement of human interests and not to humanity’s detriment.

At Adobe, our view is that companies like ours can do our part by treating AI as something that’s designed to help people rather than replace them. We’re working hard toward the ultimate goal of making AI better for both our customers and our communities, giving people new ways to work and collaborate by amplifying human creativity, intelligence, and ingenuity.

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