Artificial Intelligence has the potential to change the way we live our lives in the future. It promises a more integrated and immersive experience in anything we do with a focus on improving quality of life. But as with any new technology, there are some critical questions raised which do not have a clear answer. AI is an evolving technology and only time will tell us how well we use technology to improve our lives. There are many ethics-related questions asked by critics. These ethical issues are the topic for our sections that follow.
Here is a list of the top 10 issues related to ethics on the subject of Artificial Intelligence.
Manipulation of Behaviour
AI in surveillance raises questions on the ethical use of data accumulated and misuse of this data to manipulate behaviour of people or groups of people. With an ample amount of historical data about individuals or a group of individuals, AI algorithms can be manipulated to target such small groups with stimulation that is expected to elicit a certain kind of behaviour. This is called nudging. With AI, this nudging can take the form of behavioural, which is a concerning point of contention.
Social media is a perfect example of how behaviour manipulation is used to push political propaganda. Sometimes this can be used to influence voting behaviour to a significant extent.
AI assisted fake evidence today is flooding the social media scene. It becomes difficult to decipher the fake from the original.
The opacity of AI systems
The automated nature of AI systems also casts a shadow on the opacity of such systems. There is no way of knowing the rationale behind decisions taken by the AI systems with limited human participation. Any bias in AI-based decision systems is made worse by this opacity.
Biased Decision-making systems
The AI-based decision support systems are almost always automated and based on data. This AI-based decision support system is often used in predictive analytics. An ethical concern about such predictive systems is what is called predictive policing, which is nothing but taking away power from people with a certain predictable behaviour. This is true, especially in the case of AI in law enforcement, where the system foresees and moves to punish any planned illegal activities. The bias comes from the data that was used to set up the machine learning-based system. Bias also creeps in when unfair judgments are passed against minority groups. The machine learning system might start building up a bias based on this inherent bias in the system, which is a matter of concern.
Interaction with Robots
Humans very easily attribute properties that we usually relate to other humans, to robots, especially those which have a human-like appearance or even any other living being for that matter. The ethical concern here is that this can be easily used to deceive humans into attributing emotional significance to robots.
Automation and Employment
While there are significant gains in productivity with the introduction of AI and robotics, it also brings to the surface the ethical question of AI and robotics impacting the employment of humans. An ethical question arises, Will AI automation take over certain kinds of jobs permanently.
With AI comes machines that can behave autonomously in certain domains. This autonomous behaviour of an artificial system raises ethical concerns about to what extent it can such autonomous systems function without any responsibility attached. Since they are machines, it is difficult to associate responsibility with such autonomous systems.
Machine Ethics rules govern behaviour of machines towards human users and maybe other machines as well. Ethics for machines are based on assumptions that machines can be ethical agents who are responsible for their actions. It has been observed that any robot which is wired to follow ethical rules and be easily reprogrammed to follow unethical rules.
Responsibility for Robots
The above discussion brings us to the functioning of robots and it is strongly believed that responsibility, accountability and, liability and rule of law should be the basic requirements that should be upheld by autonomous robotic technologies. The issue is there is no way to pin responsibility on such entities. The ethical question of whether any actions on part of robots will be attributed to just the robot or should a human be held responsible for any violation on part of a robot.
Rights for Robots
A related topic is about the rights of robots. This issue stems from our earlier discussion on humans attaching emotions to objects, especially those that resemble a human or living being. Ethical questions on whether the robot should have the same rights as that of a human. The question also then arises about how far such anti-realism can go.
There is research underway to achieve Artificial General Intelligence which aims at having machines with cognitive abilities similar to humans. Although this is many decades into the future, AI could surpass human cognitive abilities and reach a point of uncontrollable and irreversible growth. Questions related to ethics on how do we consider a scenario where we have created machines with cognitive abilities similar or superior to humans and these machines then themselves outdo our efforts to create something even more intelligent. That is when it will all go out of hands and it is feared that chaos will ensue.
Ethical issues will always exist with any technology powered by artificial intelligence. With the field still evolving we still have a long way to go on how we deal with such questions on ethics which all sections of the society can agree on.
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