November 2020: Artificial Intelligence

by Fr. Joseph Puliparambil, SJ

Pope Francis’ prayer Intention: Let us pray that the progress of robotics and artificial intelligence may always serve humankind.

The rapid growth of Artificial Intelligence (AI) offers many opportunities, but it also poses many dangers. There are so many ways in which we could use AI for social good, but over the last few years it has become apparent that there are potentially a lot of unintended consequences. As more social sector organizations recognize AI, we all can play a role in legislating AI outputs are ethical, responsible and fair for a better world.

AI is present in the way social media feeds are organised;
the way predictive searches show up on Google;
the way robots are replacing humans at workplace;
how algorithms make automated trading in stock markets;
how detection of diseases are being made in advance using AI;
how robots are helping the elderly and sick;
how automatic translation from one language to another is made;
it is present in facial recognition technologies;
it is present in modern warfare where drones and robots are fighting.

Autonomous and intelligent technical systems are specifically designed to reduce the necessity for human intervention in our day-to-day lives. These disruptive technologies can have adverse effects on individuals and societies such as violation of privacy, discrimination, adverse economic impacts, risks to security of critical infrastructure, algorithmic pricing, unemployment and possible negative long-term effects on societal well-being. Autonomous systems in warfare can make decisions which can be disastrous for all human beings. The full benefit of these technologies will be attained only if they are aligned with society’s defined values and ethical principles.

Prioritizing ethical and responsible artificial intelligence is becoming a widespread goal for society. While this is an encouraging trend, a key question still facing technologists, manufacturers, and policymakers alike is how to assess, understand, measure, monitor, safeguard, and improve the well-being impacts of AI on humans.