Artificial Intelligence is being hailed as a brilliant technology that can help businesses increase their operational, predictive, and productive power. Organizations are willing to invest heavily in this disruptive technology that is transforming existing workflows. With AI being omnipresent – (Read – Artificial Intelligence everywhere) – from smartphones to household finances to law and justice systems, it is extremely important that both the public and the companies realize that there could be a potential dark side to artificial intelligence too. There have been innumerable cases of AI bias and violation of the ethics of artificial intelligence in recent times. Forbes describes dark AI as an umbrella term for any evildoing an autonomous system is capable of executing given the right inputs (biased data, unchecked algorithms, etc).
Many movies speculate on how artificial intelligence can escape man’s control to reign supreme, subjecting man to slavery. While this is a bit far-fetched, the actual dangers of AI are much more subtle.
In an article from the Live Mint, Sandipan Deb writes that AI is only as good as the data that is fed into it. “The data is worked on by deep-learning software, which absorbs the data, figures out patterns creates rules to fit the patterns, and keeps tweaking those rules as more data is fed into it.” The data, which is fed by humans, will contain the prejudices that mankind holds, which will ultimately influence the end result that reflects the societal biases like racism, sexism, etc.
Here are a few AI bias examples. In May 2018, a report highlighted that an AI-generated computer algorithm used by a US court for risk assessment was biased against black prisoners. The program asserted that blacks were twice as likely as whites to re-offend in the US. This conclusion was a result of the flawed or skewed training data that it was learning from. While machine learning is often hailed as being impartial and unbiased, the technology will only be as good as the data that has been fed into it. (Read – How AI is learning all our worst impulses)
In 2015, Google came under severe criticism when its photo app tagged two black people as gorillas—perhaps because the algorithm’s training data set did not have pictures of enough black people.
In 2016, Russian scientists ran a global beauty contest to be judged by an AI. Of the 44 winners, only one had dark skin. The algorithm had been trained mostly with photos of white people, and it had equated “fair skin” with “beauty”.
Another example is when an AI is fed the resumes of candidates for a top corporate job, and it chooses a man, because data shows that men have overwhelmingly outnumbered women as CEOs in the past. Going by the data, the AI will decide that a man will make a better CEO than a woman. While the woman would have been pushed back due to gender bias in the past, the computer would not have any idea about this as it is powered by the data it is given.
According to Wikipedia, AI ethics is concerned with the moral behaviour of humans as they design, construct, use and treat artificially intelligent beings, and machine ethics, which is concerned with the moral behaviour of artificial moral agents (AMAs). While AI is being increasingly deployed across a wide variety of domains, from personal digital assistants, email filtering, fraud prevention, voice and facial recognition and content classification to generating news and offering insights into how data centres can save energy, the discrimination that AI could implement should also receive attention. Future of artificial intelligence is indeed very bright but the dark side of artificial intelligence, more than a technical issue, is considered as a social issue of AI and an ethical problem that technologists could find difficult to solve.