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Morning Forum talk delves into ethics of AI | Community

Kirk O. Hanson gave an eye-opening talk on “The Ethics of Artificial Intelligence” to the Morning Forum audience on May 22.  Known as the seminal thinker in the field of corporate ethics and many other areas of ethics, he delivered a powerful speech on the hot topic of AI. 

 Hanson began by saying he was always on the lookout for the next big thing. In 2010 when he read a short article in the New York Times about the new field of artificial intelligence, it immediately hit him that AI could be one of the most important developments for the human race ever and will raise the most difficult ethical dilemmas that we will face as a society. 

Hanson, Executive Director of the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University, immediately hired two new people and reassigned three people on the staff. He spoke of the new field of applied ethics, not only in business, but multiple areas such as medicine, journalism and politics.

AI has capabilities that go beyond anything that we’ve ever seen before; it has dangers and some huge opportunities for good. AI is moving so fast that any development today will be influencing what we will need to cope with tomorrow.

In May, there was talk in the news of a voice strangely like that of the actress Scarlett Johansson. About a year ago, she was approached about the use of her voice; she declined. Nevertheless, OpenAI came out with a voice that sounded almost exactly like hers. It has since been taken down. 

What’s AI? Computer systems and algorithms that can perform complex tasks typically associated with human intelligence. Sometimes it’s described as a search engine on steroids. Facts are not necessarily facts anymore. They’re called “hallucinations” and are just an approximation of fact. 

Things already at work in our lives that are examples of artificial intelligence include face recognition in airports, self-driving cars and planes, shopping and playlist suggestions, Siri and Alexa, chatbots for customer service and suggested responses on cell phones. 

Examples of AI currently in development and some in use include better social media screens, robot psychologists, automated medical alerts, robots for the elderly and, in Japan, robots for reducing loneliness. Artificial intelligence can be trained and developed if following crucial steps and processes. Hanson included positive examples such as a woman in Africa who has used AI to create exact weather information and conditions for growing food throughout the entire continent.

There are many ethical issues, including transparency, cybersecurity, copyrights, accuracy, bias, notification if your information is being used, licensing and the quality of the training data submitted to AI. Questions are raised about deep fakes in politics, mortgage and employment decisions and scamming. Eventually there will be more screening and auditing. The European Union has passed an AI Bill of Rights.

Hanson concluded with the existential question we, the human race, want to know: Is there a realistic threat that AI will eventually dominate humans? His answer was encouraging: “The potential is awful; the potential is wonderful. Human creativity can’t be modeled. In the end, entrepreneurial work will be done with human minds guided by very sophisticated tools.”

The speaker series is held at Los Altos United Methodist Church, 655 Magdalena Ave., and is also accessible via Zoom. New memberships are now being accepted for the fall. The fall speaker line-up will be announced later this summer.

Morning Forum receives membership donations and grants from the Farrington Historical Association.

Originally Appeared Here

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