AI and bias

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Hi everybody,

I’m back writing. I’ve been pretty busy lately, thus did not have much time to write.

Particularly, I’ve been working on an AI research proposal with two other scientist friends (a material physicist and a mathematician). After quite some brainstorming we decided to pick up the following topic, AI and (its influence on) bias in society.

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At first I felt somehow undecided and a bit skeptical about the topic as I think bias is a difficult feature to value and to somehow remove from human kind. As we are all biased – consciously and/or unconsciously. Governed by past experiences, by prejudices, without even being aware of them, most of the times. Meaning they can influence our decisions and actions without us being aware they do. We might for instance think that a man or a woman would fit best this job or that job, therefore tend to hire more men or women for a given position based on biased standard norms we assume being right, often unconsciously.

We tend to think that AI might help to avoid such biases without subjective human judgement, therefore being the solution to the human bias problem. However, some studies revealed that AI was actually doing much worse than humans in terms of bias (i.e. giving much biased output from data entered in the system).

Thus, the general idea is that AI may be used as a convenient tool by humans to increase bias. Indeed it may be easy (though pretty nasty) to hide bias in line of codes of algorithms written to program AI while pretending this AI system is made to decrease or even annihilate bias. As I wrote in my past articles, AI is evolving at a rather extremely fast (exponential) pace. Thus it is hard to follow up on regulations on how to control each AI technology newly developed as well as on every progress made with appropriate checkpoints at every step of the AI development process. This limitation might surely profit some AI developers while the general public is unfortunately mostly lagging behind.

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The main idea would be to investigate how unwanted bias strongly influences our society, as soon as humans keep an hand on AI – i.e. still implement AI systems with data and write algorithms – and address this issue by comparing with conscious AI entities which may be able to learn how to learn about the world without human intervention (which does not exist yet).

We planned to address this question by proposing a model of consciousness, suggested in human research, see how it may apply to a machine, and discuss the question about whether or not bias is purely human, thus how humans and AI can cooperate in our society if AI systems manage to become “conscious” entities.

This brings me to the next series of posts I now plan to write about AI and consciousness in the next coming weeks, which is the post I’ve been waiting to write since I started this blog, by far my favorite, I have to confess. This topic indeed raises a lot of questions and debates, still, in brain research (Neurosciences) to disentangle consciousness in the human brain, but also about the way it may or may not be applied in machines so that we could talk about “conscious AI”. One might also consider consciousness as an unique feature of human kind, therefore not applying to machines.

Other interesting questions might be, what would be the most efficient conscious AI serving best our society? Which human features AI would still need to keep in order to use best its potential and adapt best to the world? Answering these questions will give us a good tip about which features of human consciousness would still be required for machines that think? thus which features will evolve (be kept) as an useful variable surviving evolution… (according to Darwin theory of evolution)?

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I am currently reading the book of John Brockman entitled “What to think about machines that think”, which I recommend, interviewing leading thinkers – mostly scientists – about machines that think and resuming in short chapters what they think about the topic.

For the next series of posts about AI and consciousness, I will always document my comments with references, and this book will be one of them.

Looking forward to posting more on the topic.

Till the next post.

 

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