A Short Paper on Humanism and AI
Here, in the 21st century, we practically run on the Internet; from our basic services such as banking, healthcare, communication and transportation, to our entertainment needs such as music or television, we rely on Artificial Intelligence (AI) to help make our lives safer, easier and more enjoyable.
These systems were designed for this purpose alone, but given the massive boom in development and usage, the potential for using AI for acts of evil and personal gain is as high as ever. At this point in time, the privacy of personal data and information is pretty much non-existent. Lest people forget, most data posted online such as emails, documents, websites and social media are hosted by servers, which are run by the world’s tech companies. Personal data, at the hands of the wrong organizations, can be risky, since this may be used for profiteering purposes such as non-consented advertising and data-selling. To add to this, most information floating around on the internet is unregulated, meaning exploits and data-leaks are highly likely to occur, and it doesn’t take much nowadays to commit cybercrime such as exploitation, identity theft and spreading fake news to instil chaos.
The Need To Bring Back Human Touch
In recent years, we have seen a decline in human monitoring, as tech companies are always trying to cut costs by automating their systems. One example of an AI platform that has seen a rapid decline in human control was YouTube, the world’s most popular video-sharing site. Given that the site is run by algorithms rather than human monitoring, the amount of exploitation is extremely high. People have been finding ways to cheat the system and bypass content monitoring, causing inappropriate videos, such as those involving terrorism and violence, to slip through the system. Given that millions of people use the site on a daily basis, the psychological impact of unregulated content can be extreme, especially for younger viewers.
On an ethical standpoint, large companies such as these are morally obligated to safeguard our user experience and protect us from an adversary, and sacrificing human supervision for cost-cutting purposes is a grave violation of this code. Tech companies need to remember that they are not dealing with statistics, they are dealing with human beings.
Actually, it’s not just about user experience; most common issues regarding AI, including faulty security and leaks in personal information, can be traced back to the lack of human control over the automated systems. There will always be hackers and trolls trying to exploit the system, which is why tech companies need to address this by leaving system supervision to well-trained staff and employees to ensure that human life will always prevail. No computer will ever be able to match the intuition and instinct of a human operator.
We Must Control Technology Before It Controls Us
Taking into account practicality, AI, despite not being perfect in its implementation, will always be a part of our lives whether we like it or not. Having this thought in mind is already enough to give us a greater understanding of the risks we face whenever we use platforms such as social media, search engines and streaming platforms. We always need to remember that every time we use these services, a certain amount of our data will always be vulnerable.
The key takeaway here is to do an assessment of how much of our personal information we let out for all the world to see. We might even want to do a quick security check for all the platforms that we use. If you have a feeling that your data is not safe with a certain app/platform, then it probably isn’t. The best thing we can do as users of technology is of course do our research and stay informed. We also need to do our part and spread awareness to the people around us regarding the matter. This is ideal in minimizing both our own risk, as well as others’.
Technology is neither a good nor bad thing in essence, as it all boils down to how it is utilized by both the user and the developer. Despite the constant threats from hackers and corrupt organizations to AI’s integrity, humanity will always stay on top so long as we firmly grasp our control over it. I would like to quote an excerpt from Pope Francis’ encyclical letter Laudato Si’ (2015). “Technology development is the noble vocation that it is, for its ability to uplift lives and service the common good”.
References and Citations
- A Humanist Perspective on Artificial Intelligence (PDF). pp.2–11
- Laudato Si’ (2015). Retrieved from http://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/encyclicals/documents/papa-francesco_20150524_enciclica-laudato-si.htm