Note — Mar 03, 2019

Why AI Is a Threat to Democracy—and What We Can Do to Stop It

Futurist Amy Webb with some of the ideas from her upcoming book about the Big Nine (Amazon, Google, Facebook, Tencent, Baidu, Alibaba, Microsoft, IBM and Apple) and AI. Talks about the actual progress (vs the dreams of self-driving and AGI), the differences between US and Chinese ecosystems, missing fundamental (and thoughtful) research, and the growing gap between what algorithms are capable of and our thinking on things like free speech and free markets.

Webb advocates for putting on some “brakes,” more hybrid and transdisciplinary studies, and the “formation of GAIA, the Global Alliance on Intelligence Augmentation” for standards and guardrails imbued with worldviews that are much more representative of everybody, not just Chinese and American values.

[W]e now have countless examples of bad decisions that somebody in the G-MAFIA made, probably because they were working fast. We’re starting to see the negative effects of the tension between doing research that’s in the best interest of humanity and making investors happy. […]

The problem is our technology has become more and more sophisticated, but our thinking on what is free speech and what does a free market economy look like has not become as sophisticated. … We need to start having a more sophisticated and intelligent conversation about our current laws, our emerging technology, and how we can get those two to meet in the middle. […]

Any investment that’s made into an AI company or project or whatever it might be should also include funding and time for checking things like risk and bias. […]

Universities must create space in their programs for hybrid degrees. They should incentivize CS students to study comparative literature, world religions, microeconomics, cultural anthropology and similar courses in other departments. They should champion dual degree programs in computer science and international relations, theology, political science, philosophy, public health, education and the like.