Technology is a Mirror that Amplifies Society's Reflection
Updated: May 26, 2019
A few weeks ago, a selection of AI and cyber technology leaders congregated at the Waikato AI and Cyber Security Dialogue to discuss global technology implications and threats. Lethal Autonomous Weapons (LAWs) was a consistent theme, which reflected upon human decision-making within, near, or on 'the loop'. Which naturally leads us to artificial morality.
The ongoing commentary about ethics is increasing, which is good and driving change. While I prefer to use the term 'trust by design' in commercial circles, we are (again) at the crossroads of good vs evil. Because there will always be people who like anarchy, power, and/or control. For as long as human history exists and will exist in the future, we will still tackle crime, some form of the black market, the dark web and weaponized (or non-weaponized) conflict.
Technology is simply a mirror that amplifies our reflection.
Speaking of human history and present, mental health is still a huge issue. We must acknowledge that even the most mentally healthy person can make stupid decisions that lead to injury or death. And that's mentally healthy. For example, millions of people wield an incredibly lethal weapon daily without realizing it, driving a 1.4-tonne ball of metal at other people at 50-100km/hour. Heck, even 15-year-olds are trusted with that power after adequate 'testing'. And if that person is texting and driving, then you now have a lethal autonomous weapon which (in that state) is probably worse than any artificial one. I'm sure our horse-and-cart fore-bearers would have a fit if they saw the dangers we put ourselves in.
But this is life and how we plug into society. How we earn a living, how we keep the people (or countries) we love safe and protected. Which drives almost everything.
Unfortunately, like every byproduct of technology advancement, there will be significant ethical considerations. I'm glad to see military organisations like DARPA tackle explainable AI but this issue not only extends to autonomous weapons but to industries as innocuous as video gaming. There is already significant and irrefutable scientific evidence showing that violent video games negatively affect developing brains yet I still hear of kids being allowed to play games like Fortnite and Halo. Again, this is life and how we plug into it. And again, this is ethical scope creep.
I certainly don't know all the answers. I'm simply one of the torch-bearers creating AI ethics frameworks and working with technology heavyweights to ensure trust is a currency that drives capitalism forward.
By sharing my voice to the world, I hope others find their own.
And I hope that people who are equally passionate about what will stare back at them in the mirror picks up the torch too. We need a collective voice and action to drive us towards a future we want staring back at us.