AI & Society Symposium: Artificial intelligence requires regulation. Now.


Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have made modern life infinitely easier, faster and more connected.

But the limits of “smart machines” are also exposed every day: self-driving cars that crash and catch on fire, facial recognition and law enforcement software that is biased against minorities and older people. dark, and algorithms that wipe out entire sections of the population. mortgage loan and credit card qualification.

It’s clear that artificial intelligence needs reasonable limits, mathematician and computer scientist Moshe Vardi told those gathered for a virtual symposium, “AI & Society,” on September 21-22. The problem will be to come to an agreement on the methods of regulation and to implement them over time. said Vardi, who heads the Technology, Culture and Society Initiative at Rice University.

“Technology is the engine of the future, but who is in charge? The answer is, right now, the company has given up. Technology companies and the market are leading, ”said Vardi. “Public policy has lagged behind technology. We have to figure out how to harness technology for the public good. “

Vardi’s opening speech kicked off a two-day exploration of the role of artificial intelligence in the society sponsored by the Utah IT Initiative (UI2) and the Tanner Humanities Center. The Tanner Humanities Center will carry the theme at future events throughout the fall, including a conversation with Shoshana Zuboff, professor emeritus at Harvard Business School and author of The era of surveillance capitalism: the struggle for a human future on the new frontier of power, at noon on October 28.

Six University of Utah faculty members spoke about their own AI-related research during the second day of the symposium:

  • “Literary Forecasts: Speculative Ecologies at Work in DH, HE and AI”, by Lisa Swanstrom, Associate Professor in the Department of English
  • “Why doesn’t that help? Evaluation of Computer Aided Detection and the Use of Augmented Target Recognition ”, by Trafton Drew, Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology
  • “Teaching ethics”, by Eliane Wiese, lecturer at the School of Computing
  • “A pedagogical necessity: on the role of domain expertise in the era of black box models”, by Aniello De Santo, assistant professor in the Department of Linguistics
  • “Artificial intelligence in robot-assisted surgery”, by Alan Kuntz, assistant professor at the School of Computing and Robotics Center
  • “Impartial human experts in the AI ​​system prediction loop”, by Bei Wang, assistant professor at the School of Computing

Finally, a closing panel discussed how to implement policy changes at large tech companies that have been operating largely unhindered for at least two decades.

“We kind of took it for granted that more science, more technology, meant more good for society,” Vardi said. “We need to seriously think about how science and technology benefit society. It won’t happen just because we have more science and technology. “

Tanner Humanities Center director Erika George suggested considering a resolution at the United Nations banning any AI that cannot function in accordance with international human rights and privacy laws.

“Ethics are not enough. Politics is imperative. The scales of justice are all about balancing, ”she said. “Maybe we need to take a break. I think we need to be concerned about the speed, the slowdown, and the due diligence that we expect from businesses. “

And Dan Reed, senior vice president of academic affairs and former Microsoft vice president for global technology policy, pointed out the global and cultural limits of a common understanding of AI politics and ethics, as well. as the lessons of history.

“Control of information has always been in the hands of those with power,” Reed said. “It was true in the days of the village elders. And this was true when reading and writing were reserved for a literate minority. This was true in the days of printing. And it’s true now. It is even more important that we talk about how to change that and increase transparency and fairness. “

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