Mark Rolston on the Danger of AI for Fast Company
Movies and popular culture often feed us dangerous scenarios about AI taking over the human species, but Mark Rolston thinks that the real threat may be more mundane. AI already helps us with decision making based on behavior. Waze, for example, provides a driver with driving directions, and Amazon suggests new products based on previous purchases. As AI continues to be more integrated in our digital lives, it will start to shape aspects of daily life, from business to healthcare, incrementally.
As AI support software becomes more commonplace and dependable, people may start to doubt and devalue their own decision making. Mark thinks that people’s growing dependence on AI is the most pressing issue and said, “It would be easy enough for the people who design AI systems and are motivated by greed, self-interest, or politics to train computers to manipulate people’s lives in subtle and insidious ways, essentially lying to us through the algorithms that guide our thinking. And because we are so terrified of making our own decisions, we go along with it.”
Mark wrote about the butterfly effect where the smallest change in a computer algorithm that directs people to a certain type of content over another has the ability to alter outcomes for billions of people and is hard to trace. As decision support using AI becomes more commonplace, it does have the ability to save us from ourselves by helping us better understand others and see the world more clearly. But designers have a large part to play in creating human-centered solutions that are resistant to corruption.