Mind Matters News and Analysis on Natural and Artificial Intelligence

TagUnintended Consequences

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Hell Is a “Parasocial” Place

Where your "friends" may not even exist
Consumer digital hells can be dreadful indeed but they are mostly of our own making. The companies that profit from them are not forcing us to live in them. That said, students should be taught in school that the internet’s virtual world features a great deal of fakery, including fake friends. Read More ›
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GIGO alert: AI can be racist and sexist, researchers complain

Can the bias problem be addressed? Yes, but usually after someone gets upset about a specific instance.

From James Zou and Londa Ziebinger at Nature: When Google Translate converts news articles written in Spanish into English, phrases referring to women often become ‘he said’ or ‘he wrote’. Software designed to warn people using Nikon cameras when the person they are photographing seems to be blinking tends to interpret Asians as always blinking. Word embedding, a popular algorithm used to process and analyse large amounts of natural-language data, characterizes European American names as pleasant and African American ones as unpleasant. Now where, we wonder, would a mathematical formula have learned that? Maybe it was listening to the wrong instructions back when it was just a tiny bit? Seriously, machine learning, we are told, depends on  absorbing datasets of Read More ›

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Self-driving cars hit an unnoticed pothole

Brandom at The Verge fears that self-driving cars might be hitting an “AI roadblock.” On its face, full autonomy seems closer than ever. Waymo is already testing cars on limited-but-public roads in Arizona. Tesla and a host of other imitators already sell a limited form of Autopilot, counting on drivers to intervene if anything unexpected happens. There have been a few crashes, some deadly, but as long as the systems keep improving, the logic goes, we can’t be that far from not having to intervene at all. “Not having to intervene at all”? One is reminded of the fellow in C. S. Lewis’s anecdote who, when he heard that a more modern stove would cut his fuel bill in half, Read More ›