Sir, Paul Weighell’s passionate plea not to toss out the artificial intelligence baby with its digital bath water misses one salient point — we are already suffering from its damaging effects. The US education system uses black-box algorithms to fire teachers, while postcodes have become the dominant attribute for decisions on college entry, credit scoring and parole decisions. Insurance companies deny healthcare to patients without any appeal process, while Facebook acknowledges that its systems were hijacked by paid-for Russian ads during the 2016 presidential election. Algorithms created by corporations and governments are above the law — they cannot be sued.
Your editorial “The paradox in ceding powers of decision to AI” (December 30) highlights the dangers on training data on false-positive patterns, the cancer of bad data (garbage in: garbage out) and the absence of any validation of black-box algos for social good. Cathy O’Neil’s excellent book Weapons of Math Destruction argues that we need to create a public auditing process for these unaccountable black boxes. AI in the hands of the 1 per cent can quickly enslave the complacent 99 per cent as Brave New World and 1984 illustrated. Tossing bad AI babies out of the window is preferable to a cradle-to-grave existence under the tyranny of numbers.
“We are already suffering the damaging effects of AI” | Financial Times New York, NY
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