The other night, my nine-year-old daughter (who is, of course, the most tech-savvy person in the house), introduced me to a new Amazon Alexa skill.
“Alexa, start a conversation,” she said.
We were immediately drawn into an experience with new bot, or, as the technologists would say, “conversational user interface” (CUI). It was, we were told, the recent winner in an Amazon AI competition from the University of Washington.
At first, the experience was fun, but when we chose to explore a technology topic, the bot responded, “have you heard of Net Neutrality?” What we experienced thereafter was slightly discomforting.
The bot seemingly innocuously cited a number of articles that she “had read on the web” about the FCC, Ajit Pai, and the issue of net neutrality. But here’s the thing: All four articles she recommended had a distinct and clear anti-Ajit Pai bias.
Now, the topic of Net Neutrality is a heated one and many smart people make valid points on both sides, including Fred Wilson and Ben Thompson. That is how it should be.
But the experience of the Alexa CUI should give you pause, as it did me.
To someone with limited familiarity with the topic of net neutrality, the voice seemed soothing and the information unbiased. But if you have a familiarity with the topic, you might start to wonder, “wait … am I being manipulated on this topic by an Amazon-owned AI engine to help the company achieve its own policy objectives?”
The experience highlights some of the risks of the AI-powered future into which we are hurtling at warp speed.
If you are going to trust your decision-making to a centralized AI source, you need to have 100 percent confidence in:
- The integrity and security of the data (are the inputs accurate and reliable, and can they be manipulated or stolen?)
- The machine learning algorithms that inform the AI (are they prone to excessive error or bias, and can they be inspected?)
- The AI’s interface (does it reliably represent the output of the AI and effectively capture new data?)
In a centralized, closed model of AI, you are asked to implicitly trust in each layer without knowing what is going on behind the curtains.
Welcome to the world of Blockchain+AI.
3 blockchain projects tackling decentralized data and AI (click here to read the blockchain projects)
Source: Venture Beat