Do Artificial Intelligence Help to Build an Ethical Technological World?
A robot will not harm a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm. A robot must comply with the orders given by human beings, except those conflicting with the previous point. And a robot must protect its existence to the extent that this protection does not conflict with what was established before.
Whether or not they have to do with technology, the ethical challenges of humanity are not a technological problem but a social one. Artificial intelligence could empower the user and help us achieve a more ethically desirable world. That is, we can rethink how we design technology and artificial intelligence and rely on them to build a more ethical society.
Artificial intelligence is objective
When Asimov first formulated his laws of robotics, the world was a very low-tech place compared to today. It was 1942, and Alan Turing had just formalized the algorithm concepts that would be key in the development of modern computing decades later.
There were no computers or the internet, much less artificial intelligence or autonomous robots. But Asimov already anticipated the fear that human beings would manage to make machines so intelligent that they would end up rebelling against their creators.
However, later, at the beginning of computing and data technologies in the 1960s, these questions were not among the main concerns of science. There was the belief that the resulting information would be accurate and high-quality by dealing with objective and scientific data. It was derived from an algorithm in the same way as a mathematical calculation. Therefore, artificial intelligence was accurate and helped us eliminate human biases.
But this was not so. There came a time when we realized that the data and the algorithms replicated the model or the way of seeing the world of the person who used that data or had designed the system.
The technology did not eliminate human biases but transferred them to a new medium. Over time, we have learned that artificial intelligence does not have to be objective, and its decisions can be very biased. The decisions perpetuated inequalities; they did not solve them”, adds the researcher.
Thus, we end up arriving at the same point that the laws of robotics anticipated. Questions about ethics and artificial intelligence appeared on the table from a reactive and protective point of view.
Realizing that artificial intelligence was neither fair nor objective, we decided to take action to contain its harmful effects. The ethical question of artificial intelligence was born from the need to build a shell so that the undesirable effects of technology on users do not continue to perpetuate. It was necessary to do it.
As the researcher details in the manifesto, having to react this way has meant that during the last decades, we have yet to delve into another fundamental question in the relationship between technology and ethics.
What could ethically desirable consequences help us achieve a set of artificial intelligence with access to unprecedented amounts of data? In other words, how can technology help us advance in the construction of an ethically desirable future?
Towards a romantic relationship between ethics and technology
Moving towards a more inclusive, integrated and cooperative society in which citizens have a better understanding of global challenges: is one of the great goals the European Union has set for itself in the medium term.
Technology and artificial intelligence can be significant obstacles to achieving it, but they are also great allies. Depending on how people’s interaction is designed through artificial intelligence could promote a more cooperative society and a more harmonious society.
The rise of online education in recent years is undeniable. Digital learning tools have many benefits but can also foster a sense of isolation.
The technology could foster a greater sense of cooperation and create a greater sense of community. For example, instead of having a system that only makes automatic corrections to the exercises, you could also send a message to another classmate who has solved the problem to make it easier for the student to help themselves.
It is just an idea to understand how technology design can lead us to interact in a way that fosters community and cooperation”, adds the researcher.
It is possible to rethink how technology and users use it can create new opportunities to achieve moral benefits for the users and society. This ideological approach to the ethics of technology should have the following characteristics:
Expansive: Technology and its uses must be designed to allow its users to prosper and empower themselves.
Idealist: The ultimate goal to always keep in mind is how technology could improve things.
Enabling: The possibilities created by technology must be carefully understood and shaped to ensure that they enhance and support the ethical growth of users and societies.
Changeable: The current state of affairs should not be taken for Granted. The current social, political and economical configuration, technology and how it is used could change to allow us to move towards a different state of affairs.
Based on principles: Technology is used as an opportunity to enable and encourage behaviours, interactions, and practices aligned with certain desired ethical principles.
It is not so much a matter of data or algorithms. It is a matter of rethinking how we interact and how we would like to do it; what can we enable through a technology that is imposed as a medium?
This idea is not so much a proposal that has to do with the power of the technology but with the thinking behind whoever designs the technology.
It is a call for a paradigm shift, a change in mentality. The ethical effects of technology are not a technological problem but a social one. They are a problem of how we interact with each other and the environment through technology.