November 2016

November 7, 2016

Would you let an algorithm choose the next US president?

Would you let an algorithm choose the next US president? A good look at the state of AI and some of the problems it faces. I especially liked how the problem of the fluidity of our identities is examined:

Distinguishing these different layers of self-presentation and mapping them onto various social environments is an extremely challenging task for an AI, which has been trained to serve a unique user identity. There are days when even we don’t know who we are. But our AI assistants will always have an answer for us: it’s who we were yesterday. Behaviour change becomes increasingly difficult, and our use patterns and belief systems run the risk of being locked up in a self-enforcing cycle, similar to an algorithmic Groundhog Day.

When your past unequivocally dictates your future, personal development through spontaneity, open-mindedness and experimentation becomes more difficult. In this way, the notion of algorithmic determinism echoes what Winston Churchill once said about buildings: We shape our algorithms; thereafter, they shape us.