Monday - Friday8AM - 9PM
OfficesSuite 8, Ta' Mallia Buildings Triq in-Negozju, Mriehel Birkirkara, BKR 3000, Malta
Visit our social pages

Augmenting Capacities or Replacing People? Exploring the Safety and Ethical Implications of AI

April 28, 2023by Lorleen Farrugia0

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has rapidly transformed various aspects of our lives, raising questions about its impact on society, the economy, and individual well-being. As AI technology continues to advance, the debate between AI as a people-oriented tool or a people-replacing force intensifies. This blog post delves into the multifaceted dimensions of AI, exploring its potential to augment human capacities while emphasizing the importance of safety, ethics, and trustworthiness. It is based on our reflections on the Times of Malta Event ‘AI: Threat, Opportunity or Both?’ held on the 26th of April, 2023.

 

AI: THREAT,OPPORTUNITY, OR BOTH?
First panel during the business breakfast AI: Threat, Opportunity, or Both? hosted by the Malta Digital Innovation Authority supported by Times of Malta.

 

A Disruptive Technology

AI has emerged as a disruptive technology and has already demonstrated its potential to revolutionize a wide range of fields, including healthcare, finance, education, and transportation. In finance, AI can assist financial advisors in making informed investment decisions by analyzing vast amounts of data and identifying trends and patterns that humans may miss. It can also help detect fraud and prevent financial crimes, such as money laundering, by analyzing large volumes of financial data and identifying suspicious patterns and anomalies. With machine learning algorithms and predictive analytics, financial institutions can reduce the risk of fraudulent activities and protect customers’ assets. Furthermore, AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can improve customer service by quickly and accurately answering questions and addressing concerns. Overall, AI has the potential to increase efficiency and accuracy in financial operations while enhancing customer experience and safety.

Road traffic monitoring augmented by AI systems can monitor the build up of traffic, predict the traffic flows, and control traffic lights to prevent or mitigate the buildup of traffic jams. Overall, improving road safety and reducing pollution.

 

Opportunities for Human Flourishing

AI also has the potential to augment human capabilities and rehumanise work, making individuals more efficient and performant. For instance, in manufacturing, AI-powered robots can perform repetitive tasks, such as assembly-line work, more quickly and accurately than human workers, freeing up employees to focus on more complex and creative tasks. When AI handles rule-based, repetitive tasks, this can be leveraged so that individuals can focus on tasks that require creativity, decision-making, and meaning, leading to a more fulfilling work experience.

 

Is AI Shaping Our Thoughts? Critical Thinking and Opportunities in Education

One concern is whether AI diminishes our capacity for critical thinking. However, education plays a crucial role in understanding AI’s capabilities and harnessing its potential for societal benefit. By collaborating with technology and integrating it into educational systems, we can help students grow and develop critical thinking skills. It is important to acknowledge that AI can learn biases, injustice, and inequality present in society, reflecting the data it is trained on, further exacerbating the difficulties that minorities already face. Addressing these issues requires ethical considerations and a collective decision-making process regarding how to act directly on the data and ensure fairness and inclusivity.

 

Acknowledging and Managing the Risks Posed by AI

As every tool, even artificial intelligence is as good as the people handling it. Therefore, we should be aware of the risk and mitigate it correctly. On the legislative plane, the EU recognizes the risks associated with AI through the  (AI Act) and has categorized risks into three groups: Unacceptable Risk, High Risk, and other applications that pose no such risks are unregulated areas. The benchmarks for these risks are aligned with the values of the EU, aiming to ensure the safe and ethical use of AI. To foster innovation while addressing potential risks, Malta has regulatory sandboxes and experimental regulations in place, allowing for flexibility until effective practices are established.

 

The Ethical Imperative

To navigate the potential impact of AI on society, an ethical perspective is paramount. Following the ‘safety by design’ and ‘privacy by design’ principles that consider users’ safety and privacy at the core of the development of new online services, perhaps it is time to start considering also the concept of ‘ethical by design’. This would mean that ethical considerations are incorporated into the development and deployment of AI systems from the outset. Understanding the impact of AI on humanity compels us to contemplate what it means to be human and how AI may influence our core qualities. Furthermore, the role of philosophy in shaping our ethical frameworks and informing AI development cannot be understated.

 

Ensuring Trust, Accountability, and Inclusivity

Building trust in AI systems requires alignment between technological objectives and societal values. Regulation and the formulation of public policies become crucial in achieving equitable distribution and minimizing bias. However, accountability remains a challenge. It is important to clearly define responsibility in cases where AI is used unethically or incorrectly. AI should align with the collective goals of inclusivity, flourishing, and sustainability, but it is essential to address the risks posed by those with malicious intents or conflicting objectives.

 

In conclusion, AI is a tool that has the potential to augment human capacities, enhance various domains, and reshape societal structures. However, it also brings forth complex challenges related to safety, ethics, and trustworthiness. Like several tools we have available, we need the necessary media literacy skills and critical thinking abilities to ensure that we can use this tool efficiently. Striking the right balance between harnessing AI’s potential and safeguarding against its risks requires collaborative efforts from policymakers, technologists, educators, and society. By understanding and shaping the future of AI, we can navigate its transformative power in a way that promotes human well-being and aligns with our shared values and aspirations.

 

 

Lorleen Farrugia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

A1-RESEARCHHeadquarters
A1 Research is a company headquartered in Malta with reach in the UK and EU through a nework of Associated Consultants
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us?
A1 Location Malta
GET IN TOUCHA1 Research on Linkedin
Follow us on LinkedIn for a stream of online updates on our most recent projects
A1-RESEARCHHeadquarters
A1 Research is a company headquartered in Malta with reach in the UK and EU through a nework of Associated Consultants
OUR LOCATIONSWhere to find us?
A1 Location Malta
GET IN TOUCHA1 Research on Linkedin
Follow us on LinkedIn for a stream of online updates on our most recent projects
en_GBEnglish