Paper in Science addresses AI self-determination issues

The protection of human self-determination against artificial intelligence must be addressed urgently. The two leading AI scientists Mariarosaria Taddeo and Luciano Floridi issue this warning in the scientific magazine Science.

“The application of AI to profile users for targeted advertising, as in the case of online service providers, and in political campaigns, as unveiled by the Cambridge Analytica case, offer clear examples of the potential of AI to capture users’ preferences and characteristics and hence shape their goals and nudge their behavior to an extent that may undermine their self-determination”, they write.

Mariarosaria Taddeo is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute and Deputy Director of the Digital Ethics Lab. Luciano Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford and the Director of the Digital Ethics Lab of the Oxford Internet Institute.

According to Taddeo and Floridi “as AI is used in ever more contexts, from recruitment to health care, understanding which tasks and decisions to entrust (delegate) to AI and how to ascribe responsibility for its performance are pressing ethical problems”.

They say human oversight is insufficient if it deals with problems only after they occur. They urge that techniques to explain AI and predict its outcomes are also needed.

The paper flags the distributed agency issue with AI. “The effects of decisions or actions based on AI are often the result of countless interactions among many actors, including designers, developers, users, software, and hardware. With distributed agency comes distributed responsibility.“