How It Works?
Last year an experimental vehicle, developed by researchers at the chip maker Nvidia was unlike anything demonstrated by Google, Tesla, or General Motors. The car didn’t follow a single instruction provided by an engineer or programmer. Instead, it relied entirely on an algorithm that had taught itself to drive by watching a human do it. Getting a car to drive this way was an impressive feat.
The mysterious mind of this vehicle points to a looming issue with artificial intelligence. The car’s underlying AI technology, known as deep learning, has proved very powerful at solving problems in recent years, and it has been widely deployed for tasks like image captioning, voice recognition, and language translation. There is now hope that the same techniques will be able to diagnose deadly diseases, make million-dollar trading decisions, and do countless other things to transform whole industries. But this won’t happen — or shouldn’t happen — unless we find ways of making techniques like deep learning more understandable to their creators and accountable to their users. Otherwise it will be hard to predict when failures might occur — and it’s inevitable they will. That’s one reason Nvidia’s car is still experimental.
How to Ensure Fairness?
The architect of the world wide web Sir Tim Berners-Lee today talked about some of his concerns for the internet over the coming years, including a nightmarish scenario where artificial intelligence (AI) could become the new ‘masters of the universe’ by creating and running their own companies.
Masters of the universe is a reference to Tom Wolfe’s 1987 novel The Bonfire of the Vanities, regarding the men (and they were men) who started racking up multi-million dollar salaries and a great deal of influence from their finance roles on Wall Street and in London during the computerised trading boom pre-Black Monday.
Speaking at the Innovate Finance Global Summit, Berners-Lee envisioned a world where AI systems start to develop decision-making capabilities and the impact this will have on the fairness of our economic systems.
He laid out the scenario where AI could decide which companies to acquire and took this to its logical conclusion: “So when AI starts to make decisions such as who gets a mortgage, that’s a big one. Or which companies to acquire and when AI starts creating its own companies, creating holding companies, generating new versions of itself to run these companies.
“So you have survival of the fittest going on between these AI companies until you reach the point where you wonder if it becomes possible to understand how to ensure they are being fair, and how do you describe to a computer what that means anyway?”