Friday, December 16, 2016 by D. Samuelson
Artificial Intelligence (AI), Zdnet.com reminds us, is not a “magical, mystical source of truth.” After all, AI machines are dependent upon algorithms “whose output is only ever as good as the data put in, or the rules that humans set.” Historically, Homo sapiens have been as capable of creating tremendously beneficial inventions as they have been in furbishing weapons that could annihilate all living things. So whose to say that the men and women who are creating AI all fall in the camp of altruistic notions when billions upon billions of investment dollars are flowing into the technology?
Not to worry, reports Wired.com. There’s a consortium of responsible folks who have joined forces to “agree on a set of ethical principles” to keep AI accountable. Problem is, these are foxes guarding the hen house. The recently formed Partnership on Artificial Intelligence to Benefit People and Society is comprised of those companies poised to make the most money in AI. Participants include Google’s DeepMind division, Amazon, Facebook, IBM and Microsoft. They have a warm and fuzzy website that speaks of best practices, open engagement and ethics, as well as the “trustworthiness, reliability, and robustness of the technology.”
Seems society is being primed to accept this fourth industrial revolution, just like the previous technological transformations from the steam engine to a gas powered automobile, or the Morse code telegraph to smart phones and wireless PCs. Are your children currently clamoring for that sweet little robot friend? Has your employer informed you that your job is being outsourced to a machine that doesn’t get the flu?
How could algorithms -written by man – and then encased with metal, screws and circuitry ever be considered capable of making moral choices? Or have the emotional intelligence required to forge authentic relationships? That’s not to say that AI isn’t formidable in accessing reams of data and creating “decisions” through deep learning neural networks. This was aptly demonstrated by DeepMind’s AlphaGO, the AI that defeated GO grandmaster player Lee Sedol four games to one in Great Britain in the Fall of 2016.
But how can flesh and blood hold metal machines and algorithms accountable? Some of your older folks may remember the late comedian Flip Wilson’s famous comedic line, “The devil made me do it.”
Will one of the excuses used in a dystopian future be, “The AI made me do it?” The next question is, who is reprimanded, the man or the machine . . .or both?