Real Damage by AI: Time to Shift Focus from Sci-fi Threats to Today's Misuses

NNicholas August 11, 2023 6:12 PM

Artificial Intelligence (AI), known for its potential to transform various industries, is already causing real harm in areas such as criminal justice, housing, and health care. It's high time we shift our focus from the overhyped existential threats to the tangible negative impacts of AI misuse in the present world.

The dark side of AI

Artificial Intelligence tools, currently available in the market, have already started wreaking havoc in various sectors. Misuses range from wrongful arrests due to biased facial recognition systems to defamation and the spread of deep-fake pornography. These real threats, often overlooked, highlight the dark side of AI, emphasizing the need for stricter regulations and ethical guidelines.

AI and systemic discrimination

Beyond the hype surrounding it, AI technology is already enabling routine discrimination in sectors such as housing, criminal justice, and healthcare. Biased algorithms contribute to inequality in these areas, often denying services to marginalized communities. Furthermore, AI is used to spread hate speech and misinformation, particularly in non-English languages, exacerbating online toxicity and social divisions.

Large language models, such as OpenAI's ChatGPT, are proficient at churning out text that appears coherent and fluent. However, these AI systems lack comprehension, merely imitating patterns from their training data. As a result, they can unintentionally amplify misinformation and biases present in the data, posing a significant threat to the digital information ecosystem.

The need for science-driven AI policy

The formulation of AI-related policies must be science-driven, informed by solid, reproducible research. Policymakers should steer clear of the hype and exaggerated claims often found in AI publications, particularly those funded by corporate labs. By grounding AI policies in robust research, we can better mitigate the real-world risks and harms posed by AI.

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