Norman is a disturbing demonstration of the consequences of algorithmic bias
By Bijan Stephen Jun 7, 2018, 11:11am EDT
For some, the phrase “artificial intelligence” conjures nightmare visions — something out of the ’04 Will Smith flick I, Robot, perhaps, or the ending of Ex Machina — like a boot smashing through the glass of a computer screen to stamp on a human face, forever. Even people who study AI have a healthy respect for the field’s ultimate goal, artificial general intelligence, or an artificial system that mimics human thought patterns. Computer scientist Stuart Russell, who literally wrote the textbook on AI, has spent his career thinking about the problems that arise when a machine’s designer directs it toward a goal without thinking about whether its values are all the way aligned with humanity’s.
A number of organizations have sprung up in recent years to combat that potential, including OpenAI, a working research group that was founded (then left) by techno-billionaire Elon Musk to “to build safe [AGI], and ensure AGI’s benefits are as widely and evenly distributed as possible.” What does it say about humanity that we’re scared of general artificial intelligence because it might deem us cruel and unworthy and therefore deserving of destruction? (On its site, Open AI doesn’t seem to define what “safe” means.)