AI and ethics: how new technologies change the way we see the world and interact with it

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The technology is emerging fast, what are ethical problems around it?

Technologies and people’s life

Technologies are emerging rapidly, in the fastest pace ever in human history. Every week there is a new start-up inventing something completely new or re-imagining the approach to various well-known problems. The technologies which have the most attention include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and everything connected to the data. These technologies bring a lot of power at our hands to shape our world and society, but as a wise man once said: “With great power comes great responsibility”.

Is it something new: a throwback in history?

Technology has been evolving, whether it was the wheel from 7000 years ago or the steam engine from 300 years ago. The important thing is how we use the technologies and how this changes the world. The discovery of the nuclear fission led to two completely different results: on one side we have nuclear power, on other side the Manhattan Project.

So, is Artificial Intelligence is just another technology we need to learn how to implement and use, and we are good to go? I am afraid, it’s not that simple.

The AI effect

Figure 1. AI effect: image source from pexels.com
Figure 1. AI effect: image source from pexels.com

The thing which differentiates data technologies and AI in particular from anything else before, is the way and scale it is being integrated in our lives. AI is everywhere now: in your mail, your shopping, even your ways of recreation. The influence of AI on our lives is so dramatic that a lot of people consider it to overtake the world someday.

A lot of concerns being raised today on AI and Ethics, especially keeping in mind events like Cambridge Analytica Incident. As a result, more and more people, even outside the tech-world, are beginning to get worried about data privacy, about the transparency of AI solutions in their decision making, about how we can be sure that the technology is serving the good purpose.

So, what are the consequences of AI being not ethical and used in the wrong way. The most harmful is having a lot of bias within an algorithm. For example, let’s take an algorithm which predicts the probability of someone committing a crime for the second time. There is a big chance that the algorithm might be biased towards some demographical groups, just because we use a lot of historical data associated with this group.

The algorithm is just a list of steps, it misses the context, thus we need people, who can analyse the outputs of it. We need the algorithms to SUPPORT the decisions, not MAKE decisions.

This theme is appreciated by the audience in the pop culture as well. The most well-known is probably the Terminator franchise, where the AI, which goal was to protect the humanity, draw a conclusion that humanity is itself biggest threat, thus needs to be exterminated. Of course, it is just science fiction and we will never be at this point, but still a good illustration how good things can turn out bad, because of misuse.

AI and data: is it about technology at all?

There is no doubt that we have everything from a technology perspective to develop and improve AI even more, but is it really a big concern now? I believe, that now we need to concentrate not on technology itself, but rather on how we can be sure that we are using it. We must be confident that the technology helps us be righteous, be less biased in our decisions, and we are not breaking people’s privacy. We can’t just give the power to the machines and live a happy life. We need to think on how AI is going to be used, not just building it. This is what Ethics in AI is all about.

What is next: bright future or Skynet?

Figure 2.  Brand new day: image source from pexels.com
Figure 2.  Brand new day: image source from pexels.com

Even with all the problems we are facing now, I am sure that humanity is on the right track to find the way how we can integrate AI in our lives safely and without violating any privacy.

Once we start exploit the best of human and machines, we will be on our way to a bright and prosperous future.

 

Author


Alexander Kornyukhin

Alex is a Data Scientist is AI & Analytics practice in the UK. He has over 4 years in IT field, last three in Data Science and Analytics. Alex has experience both in public sector and in industry, spending almost two year in O&G field. We the passion for knowledge and new skills Alex expand his expertise in Software Development, Data Engineering and Product Management.

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