At VentureBeat, there’s a constant internal conversation about how we can keep finding better ways to meet our mission of covering transformative technology. “AI” is usually the key word in those conversations, which increasingly revolve around issues and topics that require deeper thought, greater attention, and accountability from the Fourth Estate.
To that end, we’re beginning a series of quarterly special issues. Each one is composed of features that explore a central topic from a variety of angles. Early next week, we’ll be publishing our first — an examination of power in AI.
There’s been much ink spilled about AI ethics, and for good reason. AI technologies are already changing the world in dramatic ways and will only continue to do so. Arguably more than any massive transformational technological epoch, AI has required greater scrutiny of its ethical implications because of its breadth, real or perceived lack of explainability, and the uniquely dramatic impact it can have on people’s daily lives.
But ultimately, when we talk about ethics in AI, so often what we’re really talking about is power — who wields it, who doesn’t, and what that means for humanity.
Power can be won, or taken away. Power can be given, or taken back. And power in AI, it turns out, amplifies all of the power structures (and disempowerment structures) that already exist in business, government, and society.
Through the lens of power, we’ve found fresh insights for ourselves that we hope translates to the page, for you the reader.
In this special issue, we have a veritable treatise on the landscape of power in AI as it stands today. We examine when AI is a tool and when it’s a weapon. We ponder the current political landscape, where AI issues have created strange bedfellows. We poke at specific technologies and fields where AI has the chance to either democratize or disadvantage — or both. We even find illuminating but troubling AI power issues within gaming and game design. We sought voices outside our newsroom to bring different perspectives to key issues like the design of AI systems.
Too often in the online media landscape, we favor speed and volume over depth and quality. And although at VentureBeat we pride ourselves on accomplishing the former with a small team, we believe that the latter is indispensable — especially when it comes to AI, where critical thought, difficult conversations, and careful analysis is imperative to understanding these technologies and how they affect us all. That’s our approach to the creation of this inaugural special issue, and others to come.