The ethics of artificial intelligence
When thinking about the ethics of artificial intelligence there are several factors to be considered. These include, but are not limited to, who is using AI, who has access to it and the realisation that it does not share human values. When considering these factors, the ethical dilemmas that surround AI become much more prominent.
Who is using AI?
Thinking about who is using the technology is something that needs to be carefully considered. The use of AI can be manipulated and used an exploitative manner.
The UK Government website states that:
AI has the potential to change the way we live and work. Embedding AI across all sectors has the potential to create thousands of jobs and drive economic growth.
Whilst this is true, the focus also needs to remain upon why and who is using AI. In the wrong hands, AI can be dangerous — especially when used in public sectors. AI can assist with various issues such as quick and accurate diagnoses of patients and using algorithms combined with CCTV to track criminal behaviour. It was also vital in managing and locating COVID-19 outbreaks and infection zones during the 2020 pandemic.
AI now has the potential to work out whether or not someone is suitable for a bank loan , how much they are entitled too and how much interest that person would pay based on several equations based upon the persons financial data. It can also directly pick out the perfect candidate for a job, this allows recruiters to fine tune applicants based solely off of their documents.
Some may see this as an issue, especially due to the lack of human interaction or value. This may be an issue, but there are also several other ways AI can be used wrongly. Using AI with malice can lead to issues such as data harvesting — previously seen with the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal a few years ago.
Who has access?
Discussing who has access to AI can quickly and easily slip into wondering — who should and shouldn't have access.
There are several large companies who have much more access to tech such as machine learning and artificial intelligence. The standard level of society see a basic glimpse of what AI is capable of. Think Siri and Alexa.
Whilst those virtual assistants are great and (sometimes) have the ability to improve the lives of society, it is important to look toward the tech giants to see their use of AI on a large scale.
Access to AI eventually boils down to one thing — who can afford to have full access. When we think about developments that have already occurred, we can see an increase in self-sufficiency. Physical AI devices such as Sophia that was introduced in 2018 has seen software and hardware become extremely advanced. The Sophia robot is able to have full conversations, was made a citizen of Saudi Arabia and was given the title of Innovation Champion from the United Nations.
From popular culture, audiences are led to believe that one day, in our near future, we all will have access to assistants like Sophia. However, this isn’t the case. For a few years we will see access to this technology be available to those who can afford it.
Many experts in AI have claimed that the accessibility will be the next major issue in artifcial intelliegence. This is mainly due to affordability and the actual purpose of the devices. Is it unethical for a technology that is going to have a significant impact on society to be limited to certain groups of people?
Does AI share our values?
Another ethical qualm that occurs with article intelligence is the questions of whether it is able to share our values. The technology has access to a vast amount of databases and millions of pieces of digital information — so how can we be sure that it is using the best of that?
We live in a world where access to information is instantaneous. With that access informed decisions are able to be made that could have great impact on an individual or society.
It is important to be aware of what sort of information that the technology is able to access. How can we be confident that the artificial intelligence wont have bias. With the abundance of harmful information that exists across many public spaces, how can it be prevented that decisions will not be based upon this?
It is easy to say that this can be avoided via specific algorithms and code, but human error exists — and the replacement for human error is AI. Looking at AI in a more positive manner, we have seen all the good it has achieved.
Looking at developments for AI in healthcare, doctors and surgeons have been able to precisely operated on patients in a way that is impossible for a human to mimic. The contributions of AI over the last decade have been mainly positive, assisting society for the better. Looking towards the next decade, we are able to predict what comes next, however, it is also vital that we decide to treat AI with caution and understanding what it means and what is could do to society.