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Why AI is a threat to democracy--and what we can do to stop it

MIT Technology Review

Amy Webb, futurist, NYU professor, and award-winning author, has spent much of the last decade researching, discussing, and meeting with people and organizations about artificial intelligence. "We've reached a fever pitch in all things AI," she says. Now it's time to step back to see where it's going. This is the task of her new book, The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity, where she takes a bird's-eye view of trends that, she warns, have put the development of technology on a dangerous path. In the US, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Apple (the "G-MAFIA") are hamstrung by the relentless short-term demands of a capitalistic market, making long-term, thoughtful planning for AI impossible.


The future of AI depends on 9 companies. If they fail, we're doomed.

#artificialintelligence

Welcome to AI book reviews, a series of posts that explore the latest literature on artificial intelligence. If artificial intelligence will destroy humanity, it probably won't be through killer robots and the incarnation--it will be through a thousand paper cuts. In the shadow of the immense benefits of advances in technology, the dark effects of AI algorithms are slowly creeping into different aspects of our lives, causing divide, unintentionally marginalizing groups of people, stealing our attention, and widening the gap between the wealthy and the poor. While we're already seeing and discussing many of the negative aspects of AI, not enough is being done to address them. And the reason is that we're looking in the wrong place, as futurist and Amy Webb discusses in her book The Big Nine: How the Tech Titans and Their Thinking Machines Could Warp Humanity. Many are quick to blame large tech companies for the problems caused by artificial intelligence.


Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

#artificialintelligence

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another." The digital revolution is in full swing. How will it change our world? The amount of data we produce doubles every year. In other words: in 2016 we produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind through 2015. Every minute we produce hundreds of thousands of Google searches and Facebook posts. These contain information that reveals how we think and feel. Soon, the things around us, possibly even our clothing, also will be connected with the Internet. It is estimated that in 10 years' time there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on Earth. Then, the amount of data will double every 12 hours. Many companies are already trying to turn this Big Data into Big Money. Everything will become intelligent; soon we will not only have smart phones, but also smart homes, smart factories and smart cities. Should we also expect these developments to result in smart nations and a smarter planet? The field of artificial intelligence is, indeed, making breathtaking advances. In particular, it is contributing to the automation of data analysis. Artificial intelligence is no longer programmed line by line, but is now capable of learning, thereby continuously developing itself. Recently, Google's DeepMind algorithm taught itself how to win 49 Atari games. Algorithms can now recognize handwritten language and patterns almost as well as humans and even complete some tasks better than them. They are able to describe the contents of photos and videos. Today 70% of all financial transactions are performed by algorithms. News content is, in part, automatically generated. This all has radical economic consequences: in the coming 10 to 20 years around half of today's jobs will be threatened by algorithms. It can be expected that supercomputers will soon surpass human capabilities in almost all areas--somewhere between 2020 and 2060. Experts are starting to ring alarm bells.


Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

#artificialintelligence

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another." The digital revolution is in full swing. How will it change our world? The amount of data we produce doubles every year. In other words: in 2016 we produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind through 2015. Every minute we produce hundreds of thousands of Google searches and Facebook posts. These contain information that reveals how we think and feel. Soon, the things around us, possibly even our clothing, also will be connected with the Internet. It is estimated that in 10 years' time there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on Earth. Then, the amount of data will double every 12 hours. Many companies are already trying to turn this Big Data into Big Money. Everything will become intelligent; soon we will not only have smart phones, but also smart homes, smart factories and smart cities. Should we also expect these developments to result in smart nations and a smarter planet? The field of artificial intelligence is, indeed, making breathtaking advances. In particular, it is contributing to the automation of data analysis. Artificial intelligence is no longer programmed line by line, but is now capable of learning, thereby continuously developing itself. Recently, Google's DeepMind algorithm taught itself how to win 49 Atari games. Algorithms can now recognize handwritten language and patterns almost as well as humans and even complete some tasks better than them. They are able to describe the contents of photos and videos. Today 70% of all financial transactions are performed by algorithms. News content is, in part, automatically generated. This all has radical economic consequences: in the coming 10 to 20 years around half of today's jobs will be threatened by algorithms. It can be expected that supercomputers will soon surpass human capabilities in almost all areas--somewhere between 2020 and 2060.


Will Democracy Survive Big Data and Artificial Intelligence?

#artificialintelligence

"Enlightenment is man's emergence from his self-imposed immaturity. Immaturity is the inability to use one's understanding without guidance from another." The digital revolution is in full swing. How will it change our world? The amount of data we produce doubles every year. In other words: in 2016 we produced as much data as in the entire history of humankind through 2015. Every minute we produce hundreds of thousands of Google searches and Facebook posts. These contain information that reveals how we think and feel. Soon, the things around us, possibly even our clothing, also will be connected with the Internet. It is estimated that in 10 years' time there will be 150 billion networked measuring sensors, 20 times more than people on Earth. Then, the amount of data will double every 12 hours. Many companies are already trying to turn this Big Data into Big Money. Everything will become intelligent; soon we will not only have smart phones, but also smart homes, smart factories and smart cities. Should we also expect these developments to result in smart nations and a smarter planet? The field of artificial intelligence is, indeed, making breathtaking advances. In particular, it is contributing to the automation of data analysis. Artificial intelligence is no longer programmed line by line, but is now capable of learning, thereby continuously developing itself. Recently, Google's DeepMind algorithm taught itself how to win 49 Atari games. Algorithms can now recognize handwritten language and patterns almost as well as humans and even complete some tasks better than them. They are able to describe the contents of photos and videos. Today 70% of all financial transactions are performed by algorithms. News content is, in part, automatically generated. This all has radical economic consequences: in the coming 10 to 20 years around half of today's jobs will be threatened by algorithms. It can be expected that supercomputers will soon surpass human capabilities in almost all areas--somewhere between 2020 and 2060. Experts are starting to ring alarm bells.