Are there things we should be asking when it comes to AI?

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writer icon Paige Whitehead     apple   |   Tech Ethics     🕐 31. Jul. 2018

Artificial Intelligence continues to evolve, it is important to remember the extent of its capabilities. AI is involved in most of our daily lives. Whether it means having Alexa or Siri pick a radio station, having Google Duplex make a reservation, or even relying on a driverless car to get you home.

AI makes things simpler. It frees up more time in our schedules to do what we want to do, rather than what we need to do. With the seamless integration into our lives, it can be easy to forget how powerful AI technology is. It holds a wealth of potential. AI may do wonders for our lives, but should we be more informed about how it works?

On the iPhone, a user can simply say "Hey, Siri" to open up the AI function. The same works with Amazon's Alexa and Microsoft's Kinect. While the function is designed to be hassle-free, it also means that the device is always listening.

Ethics and regulations regarding these sorts of listening devices are often vague. This means that, with little to no repercussions, many AI listening devices can listen to and even record private conversations. 

Amazon’s Alexa made headlines when it recorded a private conversation a couple had in their own home and even sent it to a contact.

Even if it was a strange turn of events, Alexa was recording the conversations beforehand, something that Amazon does not deny. Records of conversations with Alexa, including audio, can easily be pulled up on the Alexa app.

As there is a military interest in tech companies, perhaps more care should be taken when speaking in a room with a listening device. 

Facebook recently got into trouble over its privacy invasion scandal. What are the repercussions of someone hacking into a driverless car for GPS data on customers? 

What if someone could hack into Google and find everything one had ever searched? With Microsoft's Kinect for Xbox and Skype for Windows, one must also be wary of hacked cameras and microphones.

The launch of Google Duplex recently brought up a multitude of ethics questions. Google's AI can mimic real human voices, and even make phone calls to unsuspecting people. 

It was only after an outcry that Google released their AI principles. Even then, the wording is vague. If Google did not anticipate such a response over ethics, what does it tell us about their intentions with AI technology?

Facebook, Amazon, and Google are massively influential companies. All three of them have faced criticism regarding their AI technology. 

Surely, these companies should be at the forefront of AI ethics, rather than apologising for a lack of foresight? What do these instances suggest about the attitude tech giants have about AI? Are they more concerned with the technology than with the people using it?

If no one is asking questions, or talking about AI, then who will impose the regulations necessary to ensure our daily lives are only being made easier, not infringed upon?

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