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Ethically Hacking The 21st century: How To Own The Future Driven By Artificial Intelligence By Understanding Guiding AI Principles Agreed On By Top Researchers In Asilomar, Carlifonia

The 21st Century heralds the 4th Industrial revolution. A revolution happening at exponential pace turbocharged by artificial intelligence [AI] . Recently, in cognizance of this seismic shift, the world’s top AI researchers met in Asilomar, California to deliberate on AI principles and goals.

An artist's work of a woman's face embossed with a network of microchips depiction what an Artificial Inteliigence future might mean for personhood.

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n doing so, this eminent artificial intelligence society gifted humanity a framework of how to own the future. It is only by navigating AI ethical dilemmas, that we will avail the life saving technologies of applied artificial intelligence.

The EU in its Responsible Research and Innovation initiative calls for investment in legal, social and ethics [LSE] research. Investment in LSE research will generate knowledge that can match artificial intelligence  goals and society’s needs.

Asilomar AI principles echo the EU’s  RRI prescription as a path to ethical research and innovation. The principles fronting the coupling of investment in AI research with funding for research in such fields as computer science, economics, law and social studies.

Funding Science Research in the 21st Century

However, dwindling funding for science research in the 21st century threatens to derail potential societal benefits of artificial intelligence. Worryingly, despite the recommendations, even lesser funds are available for ‘less exciting fields’ such LSE research.

Therefore, in these lean times of intense competition for research funds, the Asilomar AI principles are a welcome relief. The AI principles intensify the call for the mobilization of money for research from big AI players such as Google, Apple and Tesla.

It cannot be emphasized enough that the knowledge generated from LSE research helps entrench ethics in the design, conduct of research and development of artificial intelligence. Over and above, Asilomar AI principles go further to frame which research questions this money should address:

  • Can we make future AI systems highly robust, so that they do what we want without malfunctioning or getting hacked?
  • How can we grow our prosperity through automation while maintaining people’s resources and purpose?
  • What about updating our legal systems to be more fair and efficient, to keep pace with AI, and to manage the risks associated with AI?
  • Lets explore the set of values should AI be aligned with, and what legal and ethical status should it have?

The Role of Consumer Protection Groups in realizing Asilomar AI Principles

In October of 2016, authoritative publication Politico reported on outgoing US President Obama’s plans on leaving political office:

Awareness is important at the outset. But leaders from the civil rights era, including Martin Luther King Jr. and Rep. John Lewis, would begin the protest but then very rapidly engage in powers that be to say, ‘We will stop protesting when you use this specific thing.’

The former US president was outlining the philosophy that will guide his mentoring of next generation of 21st Century change agents. But we will fail if we didn’t iterate his prescribed approach in navigating social upheaval whilst solving  the magnitude of ethical dilemmas that AI promises to beget.

By congregating to draft the principles, AI researchers have exhibited greater enthusiasm for an ethical AI future. Meanwhile, the other important cog in the wheel, society, appears to be lost in the dark ages. The danger presented by failing to deal with this chasm is the probability of  widening of the schism between science and society.

In light of this reality, how can the experts help? Put in another way. How can consumer rights organizations lead the charge towards a 21st century future with Artificial Intelligence? The wisdom of the Asilomar AI principles provides solutions to this central problem to the benefit of third sector players by calling on AI technology research to:

  • Benefit: AI technologies should benefit and empower as many people as possible.
  • Prosperity:The economic prosperity created by AI should be shared broadly, to benefit all of humanity.
  • Non-subversion:The power conferred by control of highly advanced AI systems should respect and improve, rather than subvert, the social and civic processes on which the health of society depends.

21st Century Global Citizens Have A Role In Achieving AI Goals

Human tendency with such unheralded phenomenon such as artificial intelligence tends to be liable, swinging furiously between the extremes. There those early adopters in the mold of described by Malcom Gladwell in the bestseller Tipping Point

Then there are those who are obstinate mules who, rightly or wrongly, oppose technological advances regardless. Most here are spellbound by  unsubstantiated fears. We particularly acknowledge the unhealthy belief of some in Hollywood depictions of an Armageddon nee by machine takeover.

Others are held back by their cultural beliefs; while some are rightfully concerned by real ethical dilemmas presented by an artificial intelligence future in the 21st century.

Whatever the reasons behind skepticism towards AI, the Asilomar AI principles predicate what is at the core of these concerns.

Of Mavens, Connectors and Salesmen In Heralding an ethical AI future

Whether as an individual you fit into Tipping Point archetypes of a maven, connector or salesperson; the time is nigh to own the AI future by being involved & getting heard to demand for:

  • Personal Privacy: People should have the right to access, manage and control the data they generate. This is because AI systems’ bear immense power to analyze and utilize that data.

Governments as agents of society & Science

There are many commentaries on Nazi Germany atrocities that were done in the name of health research. One of which is the understandably unpopular view that Nazi doctors were unfairly charged. That the scientists charged in  Nuremburg were just but scapegoats for the actions of a people.

This understandably shunned perspective holds that the scientists were themselves victims of mass brainwashing, intimidation and blackmail. As insulting as this explanation maybe, those who don’t learn from history are condemned to relive it.

Living in the 21st century, we sought be alert to the rise of extremist sentiment. Some commentators have labeled the rise of populist far right and east movements across the world as red herrings.

Nonetheless, today we find comfort in initiatives like the Nuremburg trials, the Belmont Report and the Final rule. Through such work, there is consensus on where ultimate responsibility lies in the conduct of research. These global initiatives by ethicists have fronted researcher integrity as the core ideal in science,technology and society dynamic.

MMI-MMC 360 Degrees Invites You To Learn More About The ‘Final Rule’ & The History Of Research Ethics Including The Nuremburg Trials READ: Final Rule Seeks To Respond To Realities Of 21st Century Human Subject Research

Whilst this is largely settled for human subject research, science in general still grapples with this ethical ideal. Recent happenings in politics give reason to our claim.

This love-hate relationship couldn’t be better exhibited as in the open letter from scientists to then president-elect Trump on climate change.   In the terse letter, more than 800 Earth scientists and energy experts urge the president to take crucial steps towards a sustainable future.

In similar fashion, recent developments in artificial intelligence presents a new battle ground between the goals of science, popular will held by governments and voiceless minority.

Obama Weighs In On The Role Governments In Society

To make peace between science and politics.  AI and the policy goals of those occupying the ‘houses on the hill’; we once again turn to former. Pres.Obama. In a viral video, Obama is quoted at length by Los Angeles Times columnist Micheal Hiltzik in this brilliant interview as schooling silicon valley CEOs on why government is not like business

Government will never run the way Silicon Valley runs because, by definition, democracy is messy,” Obama said. “This is a big, diverse country with a lot of interests and a lot of disparate points of view. And part of government’s job, by the way, is dealing with problems that nobody else wants to deal with.

Sometimes I talk to CEOs they come in and they start telling me about leadership, and here’s how we do things. And I say, well, if all I was doing was making a widget or producing an  app, and I didn’t have to worry about whether poor people could afford the widget, or I didn’t have to worry about whether the app had some unintended consequences then I think those suggestions are terrific.

Sometimes we get, I think, in the scientific community, the tech community, the entrepreneurial community, the sense of we just have to blow up the system, or create this parallel society and culture because government is inherently wrecked.

Why We Need Government For An Ethical Future Driven By Artificial Intelligence.

To realize an AI future this 21st century, government should be left to do what it does best. Better still, it should do what it is expected to do, which in   former Pres. Obama’s words is to do deal with problems that nobody else wants to deal with.

The Asilomar AI principles spell this task out to governments as:

  • Common Good: Super-intelligence should only be developed in the service of widely shared ethical ideals. For the benefit of all humanity rather than one state or organization.
  • AI Arms Race: An arms race in lethal weapons that do not require human control should be avoided.
  • Science-Policy Link: There should be constructive and healthy exchange between researchers and policy-makers.


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