Is artificial intelligence going to kill the human race? Can AI ethics help us survive? Almost all science fiction books and films will tell you, yes, the self-learning robots will realise their superiority and destroy the human race. Well, there’s actually a point in deciding to clear out the earth off humans, humans are destroying the earth by making it less sustainable for life. Humans for generations have been killing plants and animals for their own selfish and capitalistic needs. However, on a more optimistic view, AI may actually be able to help humans make earth habitable again, but this is only possible if AI is used ethically.
There are many hurdles in the path of AI though, for example, unemployment, according to a report by McKinsey Global Institute, by the year 2013 about 800 million people would have lost their jobs to AI-driven robots. The wealth distribution in society would also become a huge problem. Also, since robots would only have operational cost the companies and shareholders will get to keep more profit which again would lead to a great gap in income in the society. Another problem with AI is the bias factor, the data provided to the machine would show human bias, be it racism or sexism, this bias can be easily picked up by the self-learning robots. One of the hottest ethical questions is for fully automatic AI weapons; can machines really be responsible to decide who gets to live and who doesn’t? Plus, if there’s a chance of machines making mistakes then we are also at risk of them going rogue.
There are many more serious ethical questions when it comes to artificial intelligence. Today, when so many countries are racing and competing to make more and more development in the field of artificial intelligence, it has become clear that there is an urgent need to have some rules and regulations, a requirement of an ethical committee of sorts. Ronald Sandler, who is the director at Northeastern University’s Ethics Institute which supports ethics education and research at the university, said “These AI systems are powerful, they’re developing rapidly, and they’re being deployed. And as of now, we don’t have the capacity to preemptively address issues before they arise”. They are making an ethics guide book along with the firm, Accenture to regulate the development of AI.