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Artificial Intelligence: Who Can You Trust?

By Dick Weisinger

Okay, you read it on the internet, so it has to be true… If it’s not, who can we trust?

What about AI, would you trust it? Would you trust riding in an autonomous vehicle powered by an algorithm that the inventors didn’t fully understand but seemed to work well?

Surveys have found that people think that AI and robots offer greater trust. For example, a survey from Oracle found that two thirds of people would prefer to have their finances managed by an algorithm rather than by a person, and more than half said that the algorithm would likely do a better job than they could.

Eric Bogert, a Ph.D. student at the University of Georgia, said that “algorithms are able to do a huge number of tasks, and the number of tasks that they are able to do is expanding practically every day. It seems like there’s a bias towards leaning more heavily on algorithms as a task gets harder and that effect is stronger than the bias towards relying on advice from other people.”

But maybe we trust too much.

Aaron Schecter, assistant professor at the University of Georgia, said that “one of the common problems with AI is when it is used for awarding credit or approving someone for loans. While that is a subjective decision, there are a lot of numbers in there — like income and credit score — so people feel like this is a good job for an algorithm. But we know that dependence leads to discriminatory practices in many cases because of social factors that aren’t considered.

Ayanna Howard, educator and researcher, said that “if I’m overtrusting these systems and these systems are making decisions that have different outcomes for different groups of individuals—say, a medical diagnosis system has differences between women versus men—we’re now creating systems that augment the inequities we currently have. That’s a problem. And when you link it to things that are tied to health or transportation, both of which can lead to life-or-death situations, a bad decision can actually lead to something you can’t recover from. So we really have to fix it.”

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