For Artificial Intelligence, What do you mean by Ethics? Well, that is a good starting point because there are different sorts of questions that are being asked in the books I am looking at. One of the kinds of questions was asking is: what sorts of ethical issues is artificial intelligence, Artificial Intelligence, going to bring? AI encompasses so many different applications that it could raise a really wide variety of different questions.
For instance, what's going to happen to the workforce if AI makes lots of people redundant. That raises ethical issues because it affects peoples wellbeing and employment. There are also questions about whether we somehow need to build ethics into the sorts of decisions that AI devices are making on our behalf, especially as AI becomes more autonomous and more powerful. For example, one question which is debated a lot at the moment is: what sorts of decisions should be programmed into autonomous vehicles? If they come to a decision where they are going to have to crash one way or the other, or kill somebody, or kill the driver, what sort of ethics might go into that?
This book would give quite a good introduction to the range of issues in AI as there is a big range of issues and quite a wide range of approaches.
Heartificial Intelligence, my first choice, gives a general overview of the issues which were presented with. Havens is a really interesting writer. He was formerly an actor and he worked a lot in tech journalism, so he knows a lot about tech. He's also one of the people who is currently leading the IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems. So, he has really got his finger on the pulse about what the technological developments are and how people are thinking about it in ethics. He wrote this book a couple of years ago, developing it from an article hed written for Mashable about ethics in AI. There are several things I really like about it, one of them is that it covers a broad range of issues.
This is a very different sort of book. So, with an AI that is cleverer than us especially if its one which has got a positive feedback loop and is developing and learning itself we might be in a situation where we really can't predict outcomes. That's one way of looking at the singularity.
This book is quite short, and its very well explained. One of my irritations about much of the debate about AI is that some people come along and say: the superintelligence is just around the corner and any minute now we're going to be enslaved to robots. There are going to be killer robots and drones everywhere, and nanoparticles that you're going to breathe in, and they're going to go into your brain, and this is all going to happen by 2035. And other people are saying relax, there's nothing to worry about there's nothing to see here.
This is a book that you might not think at first is about AI per se, but its got very close links with important ethical issues in AI. One of the reasons why I've put this on the list, apart from the fact that it's really interesting and important in its own right, is because AI certainly makes use of algorithms and a huge amount of data. One of the things that we need to think about is not simply the big picture Terminator situation where we're going to get gunned down by killer robots, but also questions about automated calculation of results which AI can only speed up, and about how that's raising really important ethical and social questions that are already here with us now.
Cathy ONeil is a very interesting person. In a way, she's a bit like somebody who used to belong to a terrorist cell who saw the light and is now spilling the beans. She was working with hedge funds when the financial collapse happened in 2008 and came to a realization about how the use of numbers to manipulate data was having significant effects on peoples lives. As a result, she became a data analyst and, later, worked directly with exposing the issues. Again, as with John Havens book, hers includes many really interesting and gripping examples in her case, from real life about how the use of algorithms has affected peoples lives and occasionally ruined them.
This book is slightly older than the other books and is a lot more detailed. I picked it because the authors look at the particular issue about how we might actually program ethics into machines, into what they call artificial moral agents. One of the things about it was how they thought in really detailed ways about how you might go about constructing a machine that could somehow understand or incorporate ethics and what that might mean for whether you're talking about AI which is performing quite specific tasks, or whether you're talking about something more general. But they also talk about what sort of moral theory might be needed. They consider how you might have a top-down approach of starting off with, say, a set of principles, or a consequentialist approach looking at measuring harm and benefit or how you might have a bottom-up approach where you're trying to teach a robot ethics in the ways you might teach a child and what that would involve. And then they go into quite a lot of detail about the important issues in ethical theory that lie behind this.
Basically, it's about a space mission and a computer that goes bad. The book looks at humanity future, but it starts off right at the dawn of humanity. That's one of the things I really like about it because, as we have seen in all these other books, developments in AI are now prompting us to ask questions about who we are as humans and where we have come from. One of the dangers from some of the current discussions about AI and ethics is that it would be easy to think that we can just look at where we are now. Its too easy to think that were in a very good position and have made a lot of progress, so let's just make that progress a bit further. But what we need to do is to keep in view a long historical sweep about where we have come from and who we are as humans.
2001 starts off in the cradle of humanity in Africa, with a group of early humans including one named Moon Watcher. The events of the book span that historical dawn of humanity to what is happening to the characters in the book in the current day. I think we do need to have some sense of what we are doing with AI and technology and what significance it has for the whole of humanity, not just to focus on the small issues that arise with specific uses of it.