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Artificial Intelligence: Avoiding Unintended Consequences of Emerging Technology

By Dick Weisinger

There has been a continuous set of ‘Wow’s generated by the achievements of Artificial Intelligence. It’s a master of Chess and Shogi, capable of self-driving and designing AI chips, and can act as a constant voice assistant companion.

But there is also worry that we don’t fully understand AI and that there are lurking issues with what AI ultimately will bring about serious consequences. The technology is ’emerging’, rather than totally ‘designed’. While computer scientists have had the genius to design AI algorithms, the results have been surprisingly good and better than expected. Results are typically tuned by trial and error experimentation to find out what works best and we’re not always able to predict what the algorithms will do.

Rishi Bommasani, Stanford CS PhD student, told Discovery Magazine that “the commercial incentive can lead companies to ignore social externalities such as the technological displacement of labor, the health of an informational ecosystem required for democracy, the environmental cost of computing resources, and the profit-driven sale of technologies to non-democratic regimes.”

Bommasani and CS members at Stanford suggest that academia is more impartial than business and government and is better suited towards reviewing, evaluating, and recommending AI algorithms based on ethics, bias, fairness and similar criteria.

“We see academia as playing a crucial role in developing foundation models in such a way to promote their social benefit and mitigate their social harms. Universities and colleges may also contribute to the establishment of norms by auditing existing foundation models and publishing their findings, instituting ethics review boards, and developing their own foundation models.”

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