Anxious About AI? 

Transposing Hyperbolic Headlines into Help-Speak

Beauty or Beast? Though recent AI headlines are mixed in their assessment of this emerging phenomenon, there’s a responsible way to embrace it, say SAP, Sierra, and other thought-leaders in high-tech.


[July 28, 2023: Houston, TX]: If you’re like most tech pros in the SAP ecosystem, you’ve been keeping one eye on your job and another on recent (some even alarmist) headlines on the topic of AI. We all want to know: Is AI our digital savior? -- or a digidevil?

Here are some points to keep in mind for the next time that the conversation of AI commandeers a conference with your colleagues.

Where does SAP stand on Generative AI?

SAP, in a recent and important article, described common use cases of Generative AI and underscored that AI’s value-potential can be great, if our engagement with it is sustainable, responsible, and trustworthy.

SAP also cautions, though, that some AI initiatives could be labelled “high risk,” particularly in instances which allow bias of output, misuse of models, and/or the lack of legal frameworks guiding intellectual property and copyright. In just one hair-raising example, several popular chatbots have been reported to “hallucinate” – insisting on the veracity of untrue claims. These hallucinations also have visual equivalents – or “deepfakes” – that portray unreal (and often alarming) scenes with impossible degrees of realism. The Pentagon itself came under fire recently when a “deepfake”, appearing to show the Pentagon under fire, began to circulate online.

Sierra is proud to partner with SAP, who became the first major European tech company to establish an AI Ethics Advisory Board in 2018. Not long after, world-renowned leaders from industry and academia challenged SAP’s assessment of intelligent technologies; and in response this summer, SAP’s AI Ethics Advisory Board announced an AI Governance Framework that is strongly positioned to manage ethical challenges of Generative AI.  

Sierra is committed, in alignment with SAP’s proposed framework, to transparency, clarity, and your right-to-know about artificial intelligence.

Does AI Development Risk Human Extinction? 

Some leaders in AI development have warned that AI systems could pose “risk of extinction” and should be treated like “other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war” in a short statement recently published by the Center for AI Safety. 

The letter’s signatories include Demis Hassabis, chief executive of Google DeepMind; Dario Amoedi, chief executive of Anthropic; and Sam Altman, chief executive of Open AI. Elon Musk also signed the statement. Previously, in an interview with popular TV anchor Tucker Carlson, Musk has identified the development of AI as an existential threat to human existence with the potential for “civilization destruction.” 

But Yann LeCun – a Turing Award winner and Meta’s chief AI scientist – denounces Musk’s claim about the destruction of civilization as “completely false.” LeCun denies that AI poses an existential threat to human existence. This idea – that AI will destroy the world – predicates itself upon the assumption that LeCun names “hard take-off.” 

Those who believe in a “hard take-off” propose that super-intelligent AI systems will accelerate beyond the bounds of human intervention and into a digital headspace that holds malicious intent towards its creators. But LeCun describes this as a weak claim, because, he says, “those systems would have to recruit all the resources in the world. They would have to be given limitless power.”

And crucially, “hard take-off” theory assumes that AI systems would be motivated to destroy the world or dominate human populations. LeCun explains that intelligent technologies “have to be built so that they have a desire to take over. Systems are not going to take over just because they are intelligent.” And, LeCun notes, “even within the human species, it is not the most intelligent of us that wish to dominate others.” 

Is AI Safe? 

Sebastian Wieczorek, Vice President for AI Technology at SAP, reveals in interview with Developer’s Digest 2205 that he doesn’t “think that we should be worried about AI,” and Wieczorek goes on to say that he doesn’t have “any indication that there is a super human power...that is getting completely out of human control.”  

The most immediate risks of AI innovation are not, as Wieczorek continues, “machines that have developed their own will.” Developments in AI reflect only the ethical concerns already embedded in the human intentions applied towards the construction of these technologies; these technologies are no more unethical than the people who build them, and these human ethics are actually quite well regulated in many industries. While issues of discrimination and transparency might appear in intelligent technologies, they are not the invention of intelligent technologies, and they can only be solved by renewing our human commitment to integrity.  

And Sierra Digital founds itself upon an attitude of altitude – upon our founder’s boyhood dream of lifting others to peaks of advancement that mirror the mountains of his small hometown. We aspire higher. We desire to elevate our customer’s experience of SAP, and our intelligent technologies work to provide freer access to opportunity. Sierra Digital devotes itself to the freedom, opportunity, and accessibility that intelligent technologies can provide.  

Why Use AI? 

Intelligent technologies are expert navigators of uncertain seas. As waves of enterprise data climb to magnitudes that exceed manageability, intelligent technologies allow us to chart new paths forward. AI systems submerge themselves in datasets that drown our human minds, and they emerge with strange and brilliant observations that lurk under the seeable surface of your company’s data. These technologies are beacons: They illuminate new patterns in existing data, and they steer enterprises away from the compliance risks that loom in hard-to-see places.  

While winds of change storm through the world of data, you can get Future-Ready with SAP and Sierra Digital. The AI-assisted solutions that we offer aid your agility; they can help you adapt quickly to new situations, requirements, and technologies. These technologies motivate your race towards new opportunities.

With AI-augmented solutions from SAP, enhanced and simplified by Sierra Digital, you can climb faster, find surer footing, and arrive more firmly at new peaks of profit and performance.  

About the Author: Jacob Harris fears not the dangers of technology; he’s never known a world without them. One of many recent staff additions @ TeamSierra, he is emblematic of fresh and amazing talent flocking in the direction of innovations pioneered here. By day, he’s a full-time writer in the thriving SAP ecosystem; by night he’s pursuing an MFA in Creative Writing at The University of Houston, one of the premiere post-graduate programs of its kind.

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