How can we make sure artificial intelligence is both ethical and safe? And what if it’s not? How might we address the consequences of badly designed AI? And, more importantly, how can we ensure that AI is always designed for good? These are the big and important questions being asked in the AI world today. And they’re only going to get bigger and more important as the technology becomes an ever more pervasive part of our day-to-day lives.
So I was delighted to be part of a series of interactive sessions which set out to explore the answers at the fantastic Wired Live 2017 festival in London. For the sessions – called Fjord Live Innovation – the creative team at Fjord London developed a collection of innovative interactive experiments to dive into four different dimensions of AI ethics – bias, trust, automation, and responsibility – in a fun and engaging way.
We wanted to showcase the power of design and provide a hopeful message that technology, and particularly the technologies around AI, can be a force for good. And it was really exciting to see so many brilliant people from the Wired Live event come together to think about what AI technology means for people’s lives – and how we might design AI to help make the world a better place.
A big part of that was getting participants to think differently about the role that peoples will have in a future in which AI is in widespread use. That means getting beyond the sense that artificial intelligence is just the latest must-have technology, or being wowed by the extraordinary speed of AI advances, to something deeper – the human implications.
This was a message that came through loud and clear. Participants admitted to anxieties around job displacement and, particularly, the risk of algorithmic bias. In other words, how do we stop ourselves transferring our natural biases to the algorithms we design? How do we make sure diversity is written into technologies like, say, facial recognition from the outset?
But there was an equally strong sense of hope. People were hopeful that, as human beings, we all ultimately want what’s right. And if enough of us are thinking about these problems then we’ll be able to work them out in the end.
One of our ambitions for the sessions is to co-create a manifesto for the ethical use of AI. A manifesto has to be a rallying cry. But it has to start with a provocation. And getting the innovative and brilliant minds at Wired Live together to describe their hopes for embracing AI was a great way to start that provocation on an optimistic note.
I think the Innovation Live sessions have made a really positive start in formulating a manifesto we can all embrace. Ultimately, the power is in our hands. AI is what we want to make it.