The "Terminator Effect" - The Human Side of Artificial Intelligence

Written By: Kyler Cheatham
Date: September 23, 2022

In recent years, we have seen rapid advancements in fields such as artificial intelligence (AI), predictive analytics, and machine learning. While these technologies hold great promise for improving our lives and making organizations more efficient, we must not forget that they are ultimately designed and operated by humans.

What is the "Terminator Effect"

The Terminator is a 1984 American science fiction film directed by James Cameron. The film stars Arnold Schwarzenegger as the Terminator, a cyborg assassin sent back in time from 2029 to 1984 to kill Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), whose son will one day become a leader in the resistance against machines in a future war.

While the movie is fiction, it highlights an important issue that we must consider as we increasingly rely on AI and automation in our lives: the potential for these technologies to be used for harm. As AI continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, we must ensure that we design and use it responsibly.

These pop culture representations of AI create what I like to call the "Terminator Effect" - which associates automation and autonomous systems with a level of fear. From replacing the human workforce to a full-on global takeover. In reality, we should not fear these technologies, but rather strive to understand them better so that we can use them more effectively.

When used correctly, AI, predictive analytics, and machine learning can help us make better decisions, improve organizational efficiency, and even free up our time so that we can focus on more important tasks. However, we must remember that these technologies are only as good as the data that they are given and the humans who design and operate them.

If we want to realize the full potential of these technologies, we need to focus on the human side of emerging tech. We need to ensure that our data is of high quality and that our algorithms are designed for fairness and transparency. We also need to make sure that we have the right people in place to operate these technologies effectively.

So... how do we combat this misrepresentation and the fear of emerging technologies?

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Learn How to Explain Artificial Intelligence Effectively.

The concept of Artificial Intelligence is often misunderstood. AI systems are modeled after math and data, not human-like emotions or desires. One of the reasons there is this disconnect is because AI is still in its early developmental stages. Just like any new technology, it takes time for people to understand and become comfortable with it.

That’s why it’s important for those of us who work in the industry to do our part in educating the public and orgnaizations about what AI is and how it works. We need to help people understand that these technologies are not something to be afraid of, but rather something that can be used to improve our lives and businesses.

Some ways you can do this:

Use simple analogies:

- Try to explain AI concepts using simple analogies that everyone can understand. For example, you can explain the concept of a neural network by likening it to the human brain. The data we collect is processed and decisions are made - minus the emotions.

Use everyday examples:

- Another way to help people understand AI is to use examples of how it is being used in everyday life. For example, you can explain how AI is being used to improve customer service or how it is being used to make better decisions in an industry like healthcare.

Be transparent about the limitations:

- It’s also important, to be honest about the limitations of AI. For example, you can explain that while AI can help us make better decisions, it is not perfect and sometimes gets things wrong.

Help people understand the ethical implications:

- As AI continues to evolve, it’s important to help people understand the ethical implications of these technologies. For example, you can explain how AI is being used to make biased decisions about things like credit scores and employment.

Encourage people to experiment with AI:

- One of the best ways to help people understand AI is to encourage them to experiment with it themselves. Many online platforms allow users to play around with simple AI algorithms. By doing this, people can see for themselves how these technologies work and what they are capable of.

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Understand the Biases of Artificial Intelligence

As I mentioned above, AI models can hold biases if the data they are programmed with is also biased. Back to Terminator, if the cyborgs were true AI systems, they would have clean data points such as the last place of residence, age, employment, etc. to identify the correct Sarah Connor. If this data is dirty or broken, it cannot function appropriately.

They also need regular maintenance to ensure the models did not drift. This is a big problem because it can lead to unfair decisions being made about things like credit scores, employment, and insurance rates.

To combat this, we need to be aware of the biases that exist in our data and algorithms. We also need to make sure that we are designing AI systems for fairness and transparency.

There are many ways to do this, but here are a few things you can keep in mind:

  1. Ensure that your data is representative of the population: When collecting data, it’s important to make sure that it is representative of the population. This will help to reduce the chances of bias being introduced into your AI models.
  2. Avoid using sensitive information: If possible, avoid using sensitive information like race, gender, or ethnicity when training your AI models. This will help to reduce the chances of discriminatory decisions being made.
  3. Test your algorithms for fairness: Once you have designed and trained your AI models, it’s important to test them for fairness. There are several ways to do this, but one method is to use what’s known as a “fairness metric”. This is a tool that can help you to identify whether or not your algorithms are fair.
  4. Be transparent about the decisions your AI models make: It’s also important to be transparent about the decisions your AI models make. This will help to ensure that people understand how and why these decisions are being made.
  5. Allow people to appeal the decisions of your AI models: Finally, you should allow people to appeal the decisions of your AI models. This will give people the opportunity to have their case reviewed by a human if they feel that the decision made by the AI model was unfair.
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A Human Perspective is ALWAYS Required

These automated or even autonomous systems are useful tools in spitting out all the information for the best, objective decision for the organization, but they should never be the final say. There always needs to be a human in the loop for these decisions.

There are several reasons for this:

  1. Automated systems can make mistakes: No matter how well-designed an AI system is, it’s always possible for it to make mistakes. This is why it’s important to have a human resource to catch these mistakes and make corrections as needed.
  2. Automated systems can be biased: As I mentioned before, AI models can sometimes be biased if the data they are trained on is also biased. This is why it’s important to have a human who can identify these biases and take steps to correct them.
  3. Automated systems can be misunderstood: People can sometimes misunderstand how AI works and what it’s capable of. This is why it’s important to have a human employee explain how the system works and what it’s trying to do.
  4. Automated systems can lack empathy: AI systems are not capable of feeling empathy. This is why it’s important to have human emotions involved in decision-making to provide this missing element.

At the end of the day, AI is a powerful tool that has the potential to help us make better decisions. However, it’s important to remember that these systems are not perfect and they should never be used alone. A human perspective is always required when working with AI.

In Conclusion

Users can relax into the idea that machines are not taking over the world and, we as thought leaders can start to shift the perspective that AI is coming for your job. It is important to start thinking about how AI can help your role and not replace you. It is business leaders' responsibility to ensure that these systems are designed fairly, transparently, and with empathy. With the right safeguards in place, AI can be a powerful tool that helps us to make better decisions.

If you have questions about how AI can benefit your organization or just want to talk Terminator, please feel free to reach out to me directly at I am always happy to be an informal sounding board for your digital transformation project or just chat with a follow movie nerd!

I also highly recommend you download our newly released 2023 Digital Transformation Report which has a lot of great insights into where the market is going and how to leverage emerging technologies.

Kyler Cheatham
Kyler Cheatham is a digital artist and innovator who is always thinking of new ways to improve the world around her. As the Global Marketing Director at Third Stage Consulting, she uses her creativity and tech-savvyness to help businesses reach their target audiences. Kyler is also a thought leader in the digital marketing space, and she loves sharing her knowledge with others. She is also a mother of two young children, which has given her a unique perspective on balancing work and family life.
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