This week, VentureBeat launched a quarterly magazine. Like the AI Weekly, the special issue gives our editorial team a chance to reflect on important transformative technology influencing business, technology, and society.
The first issue focuses on the relationship between power and AI. Power can shape AI, from how we define ethical use of artificial intelligence and protect personal data to how AI may change how we define inventions to how AI may change how we define inventions or used as both a tool or weapon.
By design, the special issue drew upon topics that dwell in our lives and shape our collective future. The articles are created to tackle issues that linger in the news cycle.
While the special issue began to roll out Monday, the world heard from Jamie Heinemeier Hansson. When she and her husband, Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson, applied for an Apple Card, he was given a credit limit offer 20x than her, a believed demonstration of algorithmic bias. It took no more than two days for a series of David’s tweets that complained about it to trigger Wall Street regulators to open an investigation. Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak also complained about the credit limit that Apple Card extended to his wife.
The fact that two powerful white men complaining in tweets led to swift government action did not go unnoticed by AI ethicists or people of color who routinely document, witness, or experience algorithmic bias, nor by Jamie Heinemeier Hansson herself.
“This is not merely a story about sexism and credit algorithm blackboxes, but about how rich people nearly always get their way. Justice for another rich white woman is not justice at all,” she said in a blog post.
The world also got its latest dose this week of Elon Musk saying outlandish things about AI that doesn’t exist. In an interview on an AI podcast, the Tesla and SpaceX CEO said he believes AI equipped with his Neuralink brain hardware will be able to “solve” autism and schizophrenia — but schizophrenia is a mental disorder and autism is a developmental disability. People with the luxury to focus on things AI cannot do are missing or ignoring the growing number of ways AI is impacting human lives today. It’s an expression of the relation between AI ethics and power.
Both of these stories reflect themes seen throughout the special issue’s cover story about how power lies just under the surface of all AI ethics conversations.
The power in AI theme could also be seen this week in news reports that asserted automated bots attempted to sway elections held in the U.S. last week and in Chris O’Brien’s work that lays out the case that deepfakes are not only a threat to the future of democracy but could also fuel a virtual arms race.
Power in AI also came up this week when Portland became the latest major city to propose a ban on facial recognition use and when Fight for the Future activists made the ethically questionable choice to use Amazon’s Rekognition on thousands of Washington D.C. residents to prove the point that Congress needs to take action on facial recognition regulation now.
Other topics in the special issue will continue to percolate in ongoing conversations, like the need to have a human in the loop to avoid an AI-driven catastrophe and the ethics game developers should consider when creating humanlike AI in virtual worlds.
We want each special issue to strike at the heart of conversations about issues transforming the world happening among business executives, tech workers, the AI ecosystem, and society at large. We’re here to convene important conversations for you, so if you have an idea for the focus of a future special, fill out this form and let us know.
Watch out for the second special issue in early 2020.
Thanks for reading,
Senior AI Staff Writer