Artificial Intelligence and Ethics – What Lies Ahead?

The ethics of artificial intelligence is a part of technology specific ethics that concerns robots and other artificially intelligent beings, as well as the people behind it all. It can be divided into robo-ethics (an issue regarding moral behavior of humans as they design, construct, use and treat artificially intelligent beings), and machine ethics (concerned with the moral behavior of artificial moral agents).

ROBO-ETHICS

Basically, robo-ethics deals with sensitive questions of how we design, create, use and finally – treat any artificially intelligent being, considering both possible outcomes: harming and benefiting people. This field is investigating so-called socio-economic concerns. Meaning, how do we implement AI into societies without raising any eyebrows. Or the revolution of robots, for that matter. We are talking here about everything from machines used in wars, to healthcare robotics and many other areas where the presence of an artificially made being could lead to catastrophic or ground-breaking events.

MACHINE-ETHICS

On the other hand, machine-ethics (or machine morality, computational morality, or computational ethics) takes the ball to the other side of the court. This ethic’s field somewhat contrasts with robo-ethics, as it involves moral behavior investigation of the very AI.

In other words, is Terminator scenario even possible, given that machine ethics regards artificially intelligent machines as actual or potential moral agents?

The main dilemma in that question is actually this:

If we basically don’t have a clue how AIs make their final decision, how can we even trust what they decide?

Sure, AI proved itself a genius so many times. That time when it defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov, or when world go champion Ke Jie underscored the qualitative aspect of AI… But, the logic of the moves was a mystery not only to the players but also to the creators of the program.

So, are we paying a high price for this new technology?

AI AND OUR SOCIETY

Digital information technology has already made information accessible to practically anyone, anytime and anywhere. This phenomenon shaped all aspect of our society – from manufacturing to distribution, consumption, and services. AI is just pumping up the volume on this digital stereo.

And those changes are actually changing basic rules of evolution. We are no longer simply adopting these diversities, but adapting to it by changing the very core of ourselves – the way we behave.

AI, ETHICS, AND BUSINESS

Tech giants such as Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft – together with entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk – strongly believe that this moment in history belongs to nearly boundless landscape of artificial intelligence. They have no doubt about it.

The fact is that businesses and societies are turning rapidly towards AI. What drives this is the notion that AI might in fact make better decisions with a far longer time horizon than humans. As a long-term result, our shorter-range context might get confronted with the feelings of being dazed and frustrated, while watching how the only currency for a functioning society is eroding.

Yes, we are now amazed at how AI can optimize logistics, detect fraud, compose art, conduct research, and provide translations. And, yes, it might be a simple truth that intelligent machine systems are transforming our lives for the better, without any danger behind it. Especially having in mind that fields such as medicine, business, law, education, and manufacturing are highly impacted by this AI wave.

Facebook uses it for targeted advertising, photo tagging, and to create news feeds. The case of Cortana or Siri is pretty clear. IBM’s Watson can diagnose cancer.  DeepMind’s AlphaGo cracked Go, the ancient Chinese game.

Newcastle University uses a convolutional neural network to teach a robotic hand abstract grasping patterns. Neural lace is used by Neuralink (a company owned by the very same E. Musk) to merge the human brain with intelligent computers.

And let us not forget, our beloved Netflix is created with a predictive technology so it can offer us recommendations based on our reaction, interests, choices, and even behavior. The list is long and is getting longer every year. Pandora, Echo, Nest…

POSSIBLE AI ISSUES IN THE FUTURE

So, what are the biggest threats of AI in our future? Allow us to name the 3 most often talked about and shed some more light on whether they are actually true.

  1. Unemployment.

If Tesla’s smart trucks will be riding goods all over the globe, all by them selves, what will become of all those good old truck drivers, humans that is? Or all the others that will be replaced by machines? Who knows, maybe one day, when we finish with the transition, we might look back and think that it was barbaric that human beings were required to spend the majority of their time just to be able to pay the bills. But, that is a major maybe.

A thing that often gets overlooked is the fact that AI needs to learn from data and that data has to come from somewhere. In order for it to truly be beneficial for your business, AI would have to spend some time learning from your employees and the decisions they’re making. And while this could mean some job losses in the future, there will be positives too.

Having a system that learns from employees and helps them with everyday work will motivate the employers to invest into their teams. The better the decisions that the team makes today, the more optimized the process will be in the future.

  1. Artificial “stupidity”

How can we protect ourselves from mistakes? If intelligence comes from learning, and systems have a training phase in which they “learn” to detect the right patterns and act accordingly, can a system be fully trained? Of course, that training phase can’t possibly cover all of the examples a system may come to deal with in the real world. So, what happens then?

When it comes to issues regarding public safety, health care and diversity, the human element is still definitely needed. We’ll see how AI proves itself against these sensitive issues, but if it’s learning from our general behavior it still has a lot to learn.

  1. Security.

How do we protect our society from all the damage if AI is used maliciously? After all, we’re dealing here with systems that can become faster and more capable than us by orders of magnitude.

A lot of thought has been given to this issue and we already have initiatives such as OpenAI. This nonprofit aims to ensure that artificial general intelligence benefits all of humanity. They’ve been active since 2015 and have already testified at the US Congress Artificial Intelligence Hearing III and the first US congressional hearing on AGI.

The question on whether AI will influence our lives positively or negatively probably won’t be answered in the next few years. In the meantime, enjoy all the benefits.

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