Can AI Be Ethical? We’ll Have to Ask Siri

Welcome back friends and new AI enthusiasts to ChildsPlayAI, a weekly newsletter where we break down what’s happening in AI, in language you can understand.

Any groundbreaking technology is going to have criticisms surrounding its use, impact, and potential harm. A heated debate going around AI circles is: Can AI be ethical? No one really asked this about the iPhone. Or the typewriter. But AI is a whole different animal. Experts and consumers alike question similarly:

Is there enough transparency around AI tools?

Questionable surveillance practices for data gathering and privacy

Is it secure? Is my data safe when used by AI?

Let’s dig in.

In 2018, Google debuted an AI tool that could call a restaurant, make reservations, and have a dialogue with the caller on the other end. At the time, observers questioned whether or not it was ethical to unknowingly engage with AI assistants without the transparency of knowing. People felt lied to. (Pipe down though we’re talking breadsticks and unlimited soup and salad here)

Fast forward to today and the notion around transparency with the use of AI is still very top of mind. It’s an essential element of earning the trust of consumers and clients for companies making investments in AI tools. But it’s not as easy notifying someone on the other end of the line. (Yo. This is AI)

Transparency is a chain that starts from design to the people it impacts. People have the right to know how and when they are interacting with AI. There are 4 key areas we see transparency having the right outcomes:

It decreases the risk of error and misuse

It distributes responsibility

It enables internal and external oversight

It expresses respect for people

Privacy please!

“Bro. It’s listening to us!” You were just talking about dog bones and then got on Instagram only to get an ad for dog treats. We can never be sure and it feels so creepy. Facebook will deny it indefinitely.

What they are watching (and buying from other tech companies) is your browsing data, viewing history, and purchasing habits. Regardless if you think this is ethical or not, it flies and it’s a powerful tool for marketers.

But you have some options.

For all you iPhone users (that’s everyone right? Who actually uses Android?), you can choose to “Ask App Not to Track.” This gives you the power to deny any app you download the ability to track your data across other companies’ apps and websites.

Google has a really robust set of privacy controls. You can have data set to automatically delete. They also provide a Privacy Checkup to be in the driver’s seat for what types of data are saved to your Google account.

Final Thoughts

While we’re not completely in control of our data, we can take actions that limit the use and sale of our information. By choosing to only use technology that gives you more control, you might get fewer ads for that crib you can pee on to find out if you’re pregnant.

Additionally, heated debates are happening in our nation’s capital about how to build, implement, and use AI responsibly. We wrote about this last week but more importantly, vote. Get involved in the discussion.

So what can you do today?

RTFM – Read The F@&ing Manual. Seriously. When you decide to use an AI tool, read the fine print for user terms and what you’re agreeing to by using it.

Don’t sign up for AI applications that you’re not completely comfortable with their terms and potential usage of your data.

Stay in the loop. There’s new information hourly coming out about AI. Read it and share this newsletter! Be a part of the conversation

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