From being strange and unfamiliar to being omnipresent, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is now being used in a growing range of human activities. It must however be noted that the rapid growth of AI has also bought forward its own set of challenges, that as a society we are left to deal with. Though the presence of humanoid robots and clever machines is what we humans have fantasized about for decades, we are now witnessing science fiction turn to reality. Innovations in AI will soon outdo human decision-making abilities.

How AI is Changing our Lives

In our excitement to use the latest devices we do not realize the gap between our knowledge about AI-powered technologies and the frequency at which we are trying to adopt to such technologies. The algorithms that these devices use, can extract information about our private lives and we are unaware of how this information may be used. Various humanities scholars and social scientists are now beginning to think about the impacts of such technological development. However, AI does have the ability to create immense social good.

Issues that Arise with AI

Computer scientists state that AI can provide more accurate and sophisticated knowledge than humans actors. The ability for AI technologies to process information faster than humans also provides for more cost-effective resource allocation. The assumption here is that machines are neutral with a zero potential for committing errors. These AI technologies can adversely impact certain population groups if not monitored correctly. While AI can interpret and process huge chunks of information, the algorithms developed can be prejudiced with human biases which could lead to problematic results. For example, proxy variables such as the employment status, ancestry, area of residence, employment status, and socioeconomic background can allow racial biases to seep into Machine Learning (ML) systems and set up feedback loops. Thus, there is a built-in tendency for ML systems to create a bias if the data set itself is prejudiced. As AI technology is being widely used in the medical fields as well, patients can also succumb to faulty diagnoses developed by AI systems.

How AI and Social Sciences Relatable?

To ensure that AI has a positive societal impact, the knowledge and proficiency of various social scientists from a range different fields is required. People with a background in social sciences and humanities can identify the potentially dangerous uses of AI by taking the wider societal implications of such technologies into consideration. Such individuals are particularly equipped to recognize the issues in AI that intensify prejudices and put the vulnerable populations at risk. Social scientists need to understand that they have the capacity to help put AI to good use.

AI can also lead to artificial stupidity. Yoshua Bengio, an AI expert and scientific director of Mila, the Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence states that “current machine learning systems are really senseless”. Bengio adds that “they don’t have an understanding of how some aspects of the world work”. Social scientists and those in the humanities can help prevent intelligent machines from making irrational decisions.

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