Artificial Intelligence (AI) · Social Media

Mass Manipulation

Over the past few months we have focused on the coming changes that AI and bio-technology will likely bring in the decades ahead. In this post, I would like to focus on something a bit more immediate: the effect that AI and social media are already having on our daily lives and the democracy in which we live.

In “What worries me about AI“, François Chollet argues that the highly effective and highly scalable manipulation of human behavior that AI enables is being used by corporations and governments in ways that mitigate against the best interests of individuals and society at large. [Thank you, Art, for bringing this article to my attention.] The recent mess with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica should make the reasons for this concern clear. Our personal data is being collected on a massive scale, and we have virtually no control over how it is being used. From targeting advertising to manipulating sentiments about political candidates in order to influence voter participation, our data can be, and is being, used to manipulate us.

In their 2016 article in NATURE, “There is a blind spot in AI research“, Kate Crawford and Ryan Calo argued that fears about the future impacts of artificial intelligence are distracting researchers from the real risks of systems that are already being used. Criminal justice organizations are already using AI to predict participation in crime, despite obvious biases in the software.

In the comments above, I have linked three articles and embedded a video that provide background on these issues. They raise concerns of justice that should concern us as we consider the role of the Church in today’s society and its role in guiding us into the rapidly approaching future. What role can we play? What is our responsibility as a community of faith?

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