AI is more than just lines of code; it’s becoming a driving force behind the ethical decisions we make as a society. As AI technologies proliferate, they introduce complex moral dilemmas that demand careful consideration.
From healthcare to criminal justice, AI is affecting the landscape of ethical decision-making in various ways. In this article, we’ll explore six specific avenues through which AI is influencing our ethical choices, with concrete examples and insights from reliable sources.
1. Algorithmic Bias
Firstly, AI systems are designed to learn from data, but if that data contains biases, AI can perpetuate and even exacerbate these biases.
For instance, AI-driven hiring platforms might favor certain demographics over others due to biased training data. Is it ethical then, for AI to continuously perpetuate this kind of bias? Wouldn’t it take away from an objective and level-headed decision that a human is capable of making?
What’s worse is that these kinds of algorithmic biases are often hard to detect, and may show up in very subtle and nuanced ways, and not something as obvious as skin color for example.
2. Autonomous Vehicles
Self-driving cars are practically here, and are now raising ethical questions about how AI should respond in life-threatening situations.
For example, should an autonomous vehicle prioritize the safety of its passengers in a potential crash, or the safety of pedestrians?
This is an impossible question, even for humans, and is very similar to the philosophical conundrum of the train tracks: imagine a train is about to run over 5 people, but you can pull a level so that it only runs over one person instead, do you pull the lever?
On the one hand, less people will die, but on the other hand, you are actively killing that person by involving yourself. Also, who’s to say that one person’s life is less valuable than the others? It’s quite a difficult problem indeed.
3. Healthcare Diagnosis
AI’s ability to analyze medical data offers incredible potential for accurate and early diagnosis.
However, when an AI system recommends a treatment plan, questions arise about accountability and the role of human expertise. Can we trust AI to give us correct info? What if it makes a mistake, who’s fault is that?
If a human makes a stupid mistake and overdoses a patient, that human may face jail time, but what about an AI? How may justice be served in that case?
4. Criminal Justice
Speaking of justice, predictive policing algorithms are now claiming to be able to forecast crime hotspots, yet concerns are raised about their potential to disproportionately target certain communities, perpetuating social inequalities.
Striking a balance between using AI for crime prevention and safeguarding individual rights is essential, as if we don’t, AI may very well end up doing more harm than good.
5. Fake Content Detection
AI is now being used to create deepfake content that convincingly mimics real people, which has raised countless concerns about what we can and cannot trust when looking at videos online.
On one hand, it’s a fantastic piece of tech that can be used in filmmaking, but on the other hand, it makes deciphering truth online 10 times harder.
Unfortunately, this kind of technology is similar to opening Pandora’s box, and now that it’s free to do, it will be very hard to stop everyone from doing it.
6. Online Content Moderation
Social media platforms are beginning to employ AI algorithms to detect and moderate offensive content.
As you can imagine, this is yet another massive issue, as ‘offensive content’ is a tad subjective, and often evolves within culture over time.
While it assists in creating safe online spaces, there’s a fine line between curbing harmful content and stifling freedom of speech. Deciding what AI should or should not censor involves intricate ethical considerations.
In conclusion, AI’s impact on ethical decision-making is far-reaching and multifaceted. It presents both opportunities and challenges, demanding us to strike a delicate balance between innovation and responsibility. As AI becomes increasingly intertwined with our daily lives, addressing its ethical implications is imperative for creating a just and inclusive future.