What are the values that drive decision making by AI?

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A screen shows a demonstration of SenseTime Group Ltd’s SenseVideo pedestrian and vehicle recognition system in Beijing, China, on Friday 15 June 2018.

Moral technology

Self-driving cars don’t drink and medical AIs are never overtired. Given our obvious flaws, what can humans still do best?

A five-year-old boy is helping his grandmother cook by cutting out biscuits from the dough she’s made, and he’s doing it rather badly. He instructs the family robot to take over and, even though the robot’s never done this before, it quickly learns what to do, and cuts out the biscuits perfectly. The grandmother is rather disappointed, remembering fondly the lopsided biscuits, complete with grubby fingerprints, that her son had charmingly baked for her at that age. Her grandson continues to use the robot for such tasks, and will grow up with pretty poor manual dexterity.

When the boy’s parents come home, he says: ‘Look, I’ve made these biscuits for you.’ One parent says: ‘Oh how lovely, may I have one?’ The other thinks silently: ‘No you didn’t make these yourself, you little cheat.’

Artificial intelligence (AI) might have the potential to change how we approach tasks, and what we value. If we are using AI to do our thinking for us, employing AI might atrophy our thinking skills.

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Trying to build better workers with big data

Workers can now be analyzed like any other data.

As it turns out, bosses really do matter and they may matter more than we even realize. For example, in telephone call centers where hourly workers handle a steady stream of calls under demanding conditions, the communication skills and personal warmth of an employee’s supervisor are often crucial in determining the employee’s tenure and performance. Recent research shows that the quality of the supervisor may be more important than the experience and individual attributes of the workers themselves.

 

 

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