Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly present in our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. In fact, it can be said that for many people AI has become indispensable.
ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN OUR DAILY LIVES
Artificial intelligence (AI) is increasingly present in our daily lives, whether we realize it or not. In fact, it can be said that for many people AI has become indispensable. But, while AI has proven itself very valuable across a variety of domains and problems over the past few years a fundamental question remains: Is AI capable of solving any problem?
At present, the technological progress of AI is fast and genuine in many fields, from image perception to criteria automation, but none of them is free of errors and inaccuracies, especially when predicting the outcomes of people’s lives. But regardless of whether we reach high degrees of accuracy in many disciplines with the use of AI, a central question is not whether AI can do something, but rather if it should be doing it (and how). Thus, delving into the reasons and intentions for the development of AI is essential, both to establish whether or not it is necessary to use AI, and to know in what contexts and circumstances. And, of course, if we use AI systems it is also necessary to anticipate that this implies an (increasing) scrutiny of whether the benefits of doing so go beyond private interests.
Like other technologies, AI operates in a social landscape so its development should also address other questions underpinned by social perceptions and drivers of human development and sustainability. For instance: Can AI be harmful? Could AI replace or restrict people? It is through this understanding, or if you will, of the practical wisdom that Aristotle defined as phronesis, that we can move forward to know what is good or bad, what can and should be done, and how to do it. But time is of the essence, and we are late. Public knowledge about the specifics and impacts of AI for both our individual lives and for us as a society remains limited. While ethical considerations in AI are gaining traction rapidly and there is a growing realisation that intelligent systems need to be social first and foremost, futher understanding is crucial. Furthermore, culture-specific specialisations of these issues are also important. Even in Europe, where there is a broad consensus on basic issues such as bias, transparency, ownership and consent, context also matters. In other words, the interpretation of different technical applications may not only differ according to the judicial system, but are also subject to social norms and values, for example, to what Hofstede terms as a ‘masculine’ culture (e.g. Anglo cultures, China) in which the use of power is not only socially accepted but also a way to show status-worthiness as opposed to a ‘feminine’ culture (e.g. Scandinavia).
With major social and economic issues at stake, such as the future of work and the distribution of wealth, a constant dialogue and public debate about disruption, impact and opportunities of AI is thus paramount. In order to do so, the Catalan Observatory for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (OEIAC in Catalan) is launching a new Seminar Series about AI in our daily lives with guest speakers who will showcase research and practice on various issues, including ethics and responsible design of AI systems, data and algorithmic bias, protection and privacy, participatory methods and social impacts.
The OEIAC Seminar Series will begin on May 10th and will run through November 2021. All seminars will be free and broadcast live through the YouTube channel of the University of Girona.
We look forward to your participation, thank you very much!
Albert Sabater, Director of the Observatory for Ethics in Artificial Intelligence (OEIAC in Catalan)