Do We Really Care About Artificial Intelligence?: A Review on Social Transformations and Ethical Challenges of AI for the 21st Century

Do We Really Care About Artificial Intelligence?: A Review on Social Transformations and Ethical Challenges of AI for the 21st Century

João Guerreiro
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2874-7.ch014
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Although Artificial Intelligence (AI) is based on research from the 20th century, computation and new algorithms have only recently allowed AI to gain momentum and practical applications in society. Examples of such uses include self-driving cars and autonomous robots that are changing society and how we interact. Despite these advances, the discussion about the social transformations and ethical implications of this new reality remains scarce. This chapter reviews the current stance of ethical and social transformation discussions on AI and presents a framework for future developments. The main contributions of the chapter allow researchers to understand the major gaps in research that may be explored further in this topic and allow practitioners to gain a better picture of how AI may change society in the near future and how society should prepare for those changes.
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) discussions have been around for years. The Alan Turing test dates back to the 1950’s and was suggested as a way to determine if a machine is able to think and behave with an intelligence that resembles that of the human being (Turing, 1950). Since then AI has evolved into a robust science with advanced algorithms that learn new skills with the help of the surrounding environment. Despite such advances, AI has remained in the realms of academia and with a limited number of applications in the companies. However, recently, with the development of machine learning and deep learning (Krizhevsky and Hinton, 2012), AI has moved from a research-oriented science to an applied one, with many applications that benefit society. For example, AI has been applied successfully to decision-support systems to predict fraud (Kültür and Çağlayan, 2017), and consumer behavior in companies (Zhong and Li, 2019), or to help predict medical diagnosis (Belić et al., 2019). Although former applications are mostly supervised by human beings, today AI has evolved to more autonomous decisions, albeit still controlled by humans. AI is starting to affect our daily routines, either through the use of intelligent algorithms that curate the Internet information (e.g. music in Spotify) and present information tailored to consumers’ needs or in autonomous systems such as self-driving cars by improving driving skills to a point where the number of errors is limited. AI is also being used as a customer relationship tool. For example, AI has powered speakers such as Google Home or Amazon Echo that handle daily activities such as ordering a pizza or turning on the lights. AI is also expected to become more pervasive as new forms of human interactions with machines increase. The increasing use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality may soon be coupled with the help of AI agents that guide the virtual and augmented experience. Such growth shows that consumers are willing to let some of their privacy be shared with autonomous systems in exchange for convenience and performance (TechCrunch, 2019).

Indeed, AI applications are expected to increase the worldwide productivity by 5.5% up until 2030 (Statista, 2019a). The market of autonomous cars is also expected to rise up to 6 billion dollars in 2025 and in the healthcare sector, the growth is even more expressive. The global market size for AI in healthcare is forecasted to grow up from 1 billion (in 2016) to more than 28 billion dollars in 2025 (Statista, 2019b).

The predictions of growth are aligned with citizen’s trust in AI. For example, around 62% of U.S. consumers are open to use AI to improve their experiences (Statista, 2019c) and in 2018, 70% of Chinese people reported finding AI trustworthy (Statista, 2019d). Therefore, developing AI systems is not only a vague promise – as in the 20th century - but a reality that is set to change the future of mankind in the next future.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Human-Machine Interaction: All the interactions between a human being and a computer (either a simple computer or an intelligent agent).

Transhumanism: A movement that believes that technology may be used in a positive way to enhance the human condition.

Artificial Intelligence: The science of developing artificially intelligent agents that are able to pass the Turing test.

Smart Cities: A concept of interconnected virtual and physical objects (IoT) that together are used to control, manage and improve the city sustainable development.

Internet-of-Things (IOT): A network of connected physical world objects that are addressable and interact with an external virtual environment.

Artificial General Intelligence: Refers to artificial agents that surpass the intellect of any human.

Brain-Computer-Interface: Interfaces that allow people to interact with a computer (e.g. smartphone, AI system), by using the brain waves.

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