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Saviour or devastator? AI accelerating spread of 'misinformation'

On one hand, AI has bestowed humans with immense benefits. On the other hand, it is also bringing unforeseen challenges with it.

Renu MehtaRenu Mehta
Updated: 10-07-2019 15:46 IST
Saviour or devastator? AI accelerating spread of 'misinformation'

The world is swiftly moving towards AI and the future will see large parts of our lives influenced by this emerging technology. Image Credit: Pixabay

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a new source of growth in the era of automation. From facial recognition to autonomous cars and robotics to healthcare, artificial intelligence has transformed the world in a way like never before. AI is bringing up a new era of automation and enhanced customer experience by enhancing the performance and efficiency of communication networks.

The world is swiftly moving towards AI and the future will see large parts of our lives influenced by this emerging technology. According to accounting firm PwC, AI could contribute USD 15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030, as a result of productivity gains and increased consumer demand driven by AI-enhanced products and services.

Although AI presents unprecedented opportunities to address global issues and can play a significant role in tackling challenges to sustainable development. But as Norwegian historian and political scientist, Christian Lous Lange said: "Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master". His words go very well with the current scenario.

On one hand, AI has bestowed humans with immense benefits. On the other hand, it is also bringing unforeseen challenges with it. Let's take the example of misinformation, which has been a major concern in the digital era.

According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), "AI software also facilitates the creation of synthetic media, such as fake videos or "deepfakes", and synthetic audio content. These tools for misinformation are even more invasive given the increasingly close connection we have with technology, as well as the ease and speed at which information spreads online."

"The technology is going way ahead of what people are prepared to accept because they don't know what they're accepting," said Jo Floto of the BBC at the recent AI for Good Global Summit, organized by the UN ITU.

"The challenges we will see from algorithms will not be much different from what we are faced with today, referencing the existing issue of racial and gender biases in employment processes and the lack of accountability," says L. Song Richardson of the University of California, Irvine School of Law.

"Because these machines learn from existing data, it is not that different," said Richardson. "The type of bias that we'll see from algorithms [is similar to what] we already see without algorithms. If we are asking these questions in the world of artificial intelligence and attempting to solve them, let's also ask the ground zero question of what are we doing to solve those problems that currently exist. That to me is the challenge."

How to make AI 'RESPONSIBLE'?

Image Credit: Pixabay

The success of AI will depend to a large extent on how it is put to use. In order to ensure that AI will uphold human values, design methods are needed that incorporate ethical principles and address societal concerns. We need to maintain equilibrium between technology and ethical values to reap maximum benefits of AI.

  • Openness, transparency, and explainability should be the prerequisites for designing and deploying AI systems
  • Partnerships at all levels are needed to fight 'intended' and 'unintended' consequences of AI and other technologies linked to it
  • A multi-stakeholder approach to develop more specific ethical principles
  • A robust legal framework to deal with evolving issues
  • Encouraging investments in research and development to identify and fix the loopholes

According to Accenture, "The government should encourage discussion on the ethics of AI, and ensure all relevant parties are involved. Bringing together the private sector, consumer groups and academia would allow the development of ethical code that keeps up with technological, social and political developments."

As AI systems take a heightened role in the hyper-connected world, its increasingly important to address risks associated with it. Artificial intelligence, undoubtedly, has immense potential, and its responsible implementation is now totally up to us.

(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are the personal views of the author. The facts and opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of Devdiscourse and Devdiscourse does not claim any responsibility for the same.)