AI Artificial intelligence is creeping upon us. Artificial intelligence, or AI, is a broad term to describe ‘intelligent’ machine systems.’ It is typically a development for transforming our lives for the better. It thus makes the daily processes more efficient and building the economies of countries that invest in it. However, with the future of automation looming so near, it is the perfect time to discuss the ethics in this emerging industry. There are a couple of ethical issues that keep AI experts awake at night, and here is a couple of them.
With the advancement of automation and robotics, there is no more room for people to take on the complex roles. Most likely, the functions that the AI systems cannot perform. Of course, this means the most affected by AI intervention is the least skilled labor in the hierarchy of the workplace.
The physical workers that dominated the pre-industrial world will decline and make way for the cognitive workforce. This means that the jobs of general laborers and office workers, even truck drivers, are under threat. However, this is if AI goes mainstream. What will happen to all these workers whose livelihood depends on these roles?
The current economic system relies on the foundation of compensation for financial contributions. The assessment is usually an hourly wage. Most companies still rely on this hourly service from employees to deliver products and services. However, AI can lead to companies enjoying massive reductions in their human workforce. When this happens the revenue distribution will be among fewer people.
This will tell you that the people who have ownership of AI-driven enterprises will hoard the profits. The wealth gap is already widening, even before the infiltration of AI in the workforce. This brings the question of how to create a fair post-labor economy.
As we know, intelligence depends on learning, and this is true irrespective of whether we are discussing a human being or a machine. Systems are subject to a training period, during which they spend time ‘learning’ correct patterns and how they should act based on the input given to them.
Once an AI system has full training, you can subject it to a test phase. During the test phase, the system exposes it to even more examples, to observe its performance. The training phase couldn’t possibly reveal the system to every single possible instance of a situation or an input. This means that you can fool the systems, in ways that are impossible to deceive humans. This means it will be easier for humans to use AI systems for their ends, which is unethical. The question is, how can this be prevented?
Staying in Control
Considering that human beings top the food chain only because of their intellect, one can question the implications if humans lose control over the AI systems! Eventually, AI machines could cross the line and have this very same advantage that we have over other mammals, over us. This is a frightening prospect, yet a possibility. Neither can humans rely on simply ‘pulling the plug’ on a robot, as it will probably come to a stage when the robot’s design is such that it can anticipate such a move. If it goes on to defend itself, humans will be no match! So then, how do we remain in control of this complex system while continuing to improve on it?
While ‘robot right’ may sound outrageous right now, let’s take a look at things through the eyes of the scientists. Experts, like neuroscientists and the like, are working tirelessly on understanding the conscious experience. This is so that we can one day build these mechanisms into AI systems. It has already begun – AI systems are coming with devices of reward and aversion.
While these are superficial right now, with advancements in the field, robots will eventually be able to feel, perceive, and act much the same as a human being. It isn’t a long stretch to wonder what the legal status of such a ‘creature’ will be? What about when they commit ‘crimes’? Scary concept, indeed.
While many ethical questions pop up on AI, it is important to look at the bigger picture. Technological progress in the form of AI will always into a better life for humankind. There is vast potential in AI, and the responsible implementation of AI in our world is for humans to decide. If we use AI appropriately, it can be an invaluable tool of social progress and a catalyst for positive change.