VB Special Issue: Power in AI

VB Special Issue: Power in AI

Letter from the editor

Arguably more than any massive transformational technological epoch, AI has required more 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 insight for ourselves that we hope translates to the page, for you the reader. 

AI ethics is all about power

Khari Johnson

Ethics is one of the most important topics in AI, but the larger story is about power — who wields it, who doesn’t, and what that means for humanity

Facial recognition regulation is surprisingly bipartisan

Khari Johnson

Bipartisanship in modern politics can seem kind of like a unicorn, but around the issue of facial recognition, we’re getting a glimpse of it.

When AI is a tool, and when it’s a weapon

Seth Colaner

In AI, the question of what is a tool and what is a weapon depends on who wields it, what they plan to do with it, to or for whom, and why.

If mankind’s so-called technological progress were to become an enemy of the common good, this would lead to an unfortunate regression to a form of barbarism dictated by the law of the strongest.

Pope Francis

As AI grows, users deserve tools to limit its access to personal data

Jeremy Horwitz

Back in 1984, “The Terminator” warned viewers that networked AI could threaten human life. Today, we trust AI with personal data — perhaps too much.

AI-generated fake content could unleash a virtual arms race

Chris O’Brien

Fractl created a fake marketing blog in less than an hour using publicly available AI tools. The implications for content on the web are frightening.

AI in patent law: Enabler or hindrance?

Kyle Wiggers

Patent-creating AI and machine learning systems are tricky business. To what extent are they capable of creating, and how should they be curtailed?

Those who control the physics of a
reality are the gods of that reality.

Richard Bartle

Richard Bartle interview: How game developers should think about sapient AI characters

Dean Takahashi

Game developers are gods of virtual beings. Players are demigods. But should we be?

From black box to white box: Reclaiming human power in AI (Sponsored)

Florian Douetteau, CEO, Dataiku

We need to move past black-box models towards explainable white-box models that serve business needs, with an acceptable level of accuracy.

The pitfalls of a ‘retrofit human’ in AI systems

Dr. Rumman Chowdhury, Accenture

Responsible AI system design requires humans in the loop who are empowered to influence outcomes, rather than be subject to the limitations of technology.

If guided properly, the age of AI could usher in an era of productivity and prosperity for all. However, if we don’t harness it responsibly and share the gains equitably, it will lead to greater concentrations of wealth and power for the elite few who usher in this new age — and poverty, powerlessness, and a lost sense of purpose for the global majority.

Fei-Fei Li, professor of computer science, Stanford University

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