My concerns about AI (happy new year)

In late December I was asked by a journalist writing for the (American) Association for Computing Machines what my biggest concerns were for AI ethics would be for 2022. The article is out now. This is the long, complete version of my response.

Dear Karen,

the biggest challenges involving AI are really the challenges general to digital governance. Are we using technology in a way that is safe, just, and equitable? Are we helping citizens, residents, and employees flourish? The temptation of automation is to force conformity on humans, because humans learn better than machines do, but then ironically humans, while their productivity may be enhanced, their individual value is lost creating a spiral of lowering wages and expectations. The "great resignation" is actually a fantastic outcome of the COVID crisis, because it means both that people are better recognising that they have security in their wealth, ability, and government support, and that they deserve better jobs with higher wages. What we need to do is get on top of further means to recognise and reward individual talent and effort, and not only in the service sector.

In a way, AI is just becoming the new paper, not the new oil. We are writing all of our business, social, and political processes on it. So I am looking at Russia and the Ukraine, and wondering what will happen with respect to cybersecurity and misinformation; and I am looking at the US election and wondering whether each individual US state will be able to defend or indeed restore its democracy, and if not, whether the federal system can help them recover, and then wondering the same about France. I am looking at the surprise innovations in digital governance that came out of China late 2021 and wondering whether the EU's DMA, DSA, AIA, and forthcoming liability act will be finalised this year, and whether they will be a coherent whole or whether there will be gaps between the acts that allow exploitation by industry. 

I am also wondering whether this will be the year (with France heading the EU and Germany the G7) when we finally make progress on engaging with transnational antitrust. I think it's time for a new understanding of how to govern utilities, both within and between countries, and how this applies to the biggest technology companies. I'd like to see those aspects of these companies that are utilities (natural monopolies that are public goods) broken out (disaggregated) and treated like utilities -- with extra regulation and obligation in recognition of their monopoly status. Then I'd like to see what remains of the companies after that behave and be treated more like large corporations in other, longer-established, and better-regulated sectors.



J J Bryson

From: Karen Emslie 
Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2021 11:26:32 AM
To: J Bryson
Subject: MEDIA REQUEST: Communications of the ACM// AI 2022
Dear Prof. Joanna Bryson,
I am a journalist working on a story for the Communications of the ACM website. [...]
·       What trends and/ or breakthroughs do you expect to see in AI in 2022 and why?
·       What are the biggest challenges that AI technologies and/ or the AI community face right now and how might they be overcome in the year ahead?
Please feel free to add any additional thoughts on AI and/ or the AI community for 2022.
If you have any questions about the story, please let me know.
Wishing you a happy and relaxed festive season.
Kind regards,
Karen Emslie
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