Our world has witnessed the biggest social and cultural revolution powered and fueled by automation technologies. Currently, the automation is helping enormously in meeting business goals of improved quality standards and precision, much greater efficiency as well as productivity, reduction in production cost, lesser involvement of labor and more control over production processes. Optimizing logistics, detecting fraud, composing modern art and music, conducting research, translation tools, decision support systems, prediction as well as pattern recognition systems – all these areas are the examples in which intelligent machine systems are in the process of transforming our lives towards the betterment. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the key driver of this transformation, brings with it a new frontier for ethics with tremendous and minimally explored implications. These innovations and advancements have particularly affected on human lives, their ethics and on their cultural inferences. Artificial intelligence and ethics will surely be the most discussed topic in coming decades.
AI can be described as a collection of technologies that includes machine learning, big data analysis, and natural language processing. According to William Gibson AI has already infiltrated our lives to varying degrees whether we like it or not. Facebook uses AI for targeted advertising, photo tagging, and curated news feeds. Microsoft and Apple use AI to power their digital assistants, Cortana and Siri. Google’s search engine from the beginning has been dependent on AI. Developments tied to AI are occurring in genetics, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing and biotechnology. The research firm Tractica forecasts that the revenue generated from the direct and indirect applications of AI software will grow from $643.7 million in 2016 to $36.8 billion by 2025 and the main enterprise application areas will be the financial services, healthcare and manufacturing.
As the capabilities of these systems increase, human dependence on these systems has also increased and this has raised serious moral, ethical and responsibility questions. Ultimate goal is to create autonomous ethical machines and we need to keep ethical perspective in mind while designing and engaging smart system but we need to be aware that machines are only reflecting the ethics of the culture in which they are created. Before the unprecedented deployment of AI in human life, areas related to machine ethics, policies regarding the use of artificial intelligence and their implications on human life and culture needs to be addressed.
Probably the biggest question that come to mind when thinking about the implications of AI, if a machine commits an error or become a potential threat or harm who would be responsible for that? The beneficial AI machines can turn into potential threat just by altering some lines of codes or even by the self-learning capability of these machines. Stephen Hawking, Bill Gates and now Demis Hassabis of Google’s DeepMind all have warned of the dangers of artificial intelligence, urging that we put ethical controls in place before it’s too late.
Seriousness in moral and ethical concerns related to this AI driven technological revolution can be thought by considering the questions arisen while using autonomous vehicles. If a driver crashes a car and a driver is drunk meanwhile, and may cause some injury to the aggrieved party, logically, we may liable the accuser responsible. To whom we may hold responsible when it would come with the robotics and with automatic cars? Do we hold responsible the person who owns the car? But this doesn’t make sense. Do we hold responsible the person who manufactured the car? Do we hold responsible the insurance company? Do we hold responsible the person who built the software that decided how the car was going to navigate the streets?
The artificial intelligence and robotics communities face an important ethical decision, whether to support or oppose the development of lethal autonomous weapons systems (LAWS). LAWS could violate fundamental principles of human dignity by allowing machines to choose whom to kill. Autonomous weapons systems select and engage targets without human intervention and they become lethal when those targets include humans. Autonomous weapons systems have all the battlefield capabilities to find, fix, track, target, engage and assess. Germany said that it “will not accept that the decision over life and death is taken solely by an autonomous system”. Japan stated that it “has no plan to develop robots with humans out of the loop, which may be capable of committing murder”. Almost all states who are party to the Certain Conventional Weapons agree with the need for ‘meaningful human control over the targeting and engagement decisions made by robotic weapons.
How might business change with the increasing adoption of AI? As with the Industrial and Internet Revolutions, one key concern is the potential for loss of jobs. All sorts of organizations regardless of vertical continue to replace legions of workers who used to perform a variety of repetitive tasks, giving way to faster, more efficient processes of automation. As potential replacements for humans—performing certain jobs better, faster, and so on—AI-driven robots will transform the workplace.
AI is quickly taking the banking industry by storm. Digital lending, which is expected to double in size over the next three years, is using AI to determine whether an individual qualifies for a loan, as well as whether they might default and when. One potential drawback from relying on an algorithm to determine someone’s loan future is that it could create un-deliberate bias and prejudice based on a person’s habits. Again – an ethical question that needs to be addressed.
AI has the potential to greatly reduce the number of medical errors and misdiagnoses and thus improve patient outcomes. However, the reliance on artificial intelligence and machine learning could become complicated when doctors pursue improper treatment as the result of an algorithm. The healthcare community is asking: Who should be responsible when a doctor provides erroneous care at the suggestion of an AI diagnostic tool?
Robot ethics is a growing interdisciplinary research effort roughly situated in the intersection of applied ethics and robotics with the aim of understanding the ethical implications and consequences of robotic technology autonomous robots. Researchers, theorists, and scholars from areas as diverse as robotics, computer science, psychology, law, philosophy, and others are approaching the pressing ethical questions about developing and deploying robotic technology in societies. As robots become more autonomous, the notion of computer-controlled machines facing ethical decisions is moving out of the realm of science fiction and into the real world. Society needs to find ways to ensure that they are better equipped to make moral judgments.
AI has infiltrated our lives in the form of robots, autonomous weapon systems, big data analysis tools, prediction and various daily use applications. Visible or not, as AI systems proliferate, we will be addressing the ethical and moral issues associated with this new technology while also managing the various social, cultural and business impacts. There will be growing pains as AI technology evolves, but the positive effect it will have on society in terms of efficiency is immeasurable. Policies are being modulated to ensure safe, reliable and ethical AI systems.