What if the AI answers are wrong?

Cartoon no. 1838 from the xkcd [1] Web comic by Randall MUNROE [2] describes in a brilliant sarcastic way the state of the art in AI/machine learning today and shows us the current main problem directly. Of course you will always get results from one of your machine learning models. Just fill in your data and you will get results – any results. That’s easy. The main question remains open: “What if the results are wrong?” The central problem is to know at all that my results are wrong and to what degree. Do you know your error? Or do you just believe what you get? This can be ignored in some areas, desired in other areas, but in a safety critical domain, e.g. in the medical area, this is crucial [3]. Here also the interactive machine learning approach can help to compensate or lower the generalization error through human intuition [4].


[1] https://xkcd.com

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Randall_Munroe

[3] Andreas Holzinger, Chris Biemann, Constantinos S. Pattichis & Douglas B. Kell 2017. What do we need to build explainable AI systems for the medical domain? arXiv:1712.09923. online available: https://arxiv.org/abs/1712.09923v1

[4] Andreas Holzinger 2016. Interactive Machine Learning for Health Informatics: When do we need the human-in-the-loop? Brain Informatics, 3, (2), 119-131, doi:10.1007/s40708-016-0042-6. online available, see:

There is also a discussion on the image above: