Machine Learning and AI is being implemented in every technology we use, and we use technology for everything. Even in some place AI is replacing human workers and interactions. So how are these tools, that are replacing so many human-to-human interactions, effect our society and even people as individuals. If people are being replaced with AI how will our culture change and can they give use the authenticity needed for challenging ideas and diversity of thought? Let’s take a look at some of the motives and effects of outsourcing authenticity.
Ever hear someone say “Why are you asking me? I’m not google” and then turn around and complain that “everyone is always on their phone”? Welcome to self-replacement! The thing is, the interaction that would have happened actually served to societal function. Asking questions of other people causes the respondent to exercise their logic, memories and understandings associated with that question to explain it to you. It also helps to store the variety of view points and interpretations on more subjective topics via memory of this new conversation of the respondent's particular view point . Also running to search engines with your questions makes it easier for tech companies like google to get a better understanding of what interests you and what you do or don’t know know. Which will help make social chatbots a real contender for real-life conversations.
This is one example of the underlying ‘self’-replacement motive and effect of AI and the growing global monoculture. Part of the appeal of using AI is that it has human-like (artificial) intelligence and thus can be used either more cheaply and/or quicker than actual humans in executing tasks, hence self-replacement. Having one monoculture would be mean we’d have more assumptions and biases that are harder to find and less sources of creativity, which are essential abilities when trying to over come any new challenge. To be clear analytics (the use of math and statistics on data), which is the foundation of AI, has many benefits such as optimization and effective representation. However replacing and centralizing ideas, knowledge and ‘human-like interactions’ in effect creates a monoculture.
One area of optimization that everyday people like is in social interactions. Whether it’s creating elevator pitches, small talk at office parties, or talking with that uncle at thanksgiving, we all have some interactions that are rote, superficially engaging and yet necessary. Many cultures try to regulate social interaction and reduce awkwardness via rules of etiquette, ice breakers and codes of conduct. The aversion to awkwardness is so extreme its even called painful in phrases like ‘painfully awkward’, which can be created by silence that is often due to lack of mutual interests or broaching topics that have unpleasant implications. To the extent these interaction happen digitally, what better way to deal with these necessary routine conversations than the use of chatbots that could quickly import data from both of your social media profiles. Obviously such a tool would be useful in saving people time and effort, but this may end up making it more difficult to develop the social skills and empathy needed for critical areas that AI can’t/won’t be used for such as conflict resolution.
Even if its not directly replacing interactions we have to be aware of these new tools and their filter streams effects on our knowledge and perspective. Even if its the use of AI to create movie scripts or to write news articles we have to wonder if there are steps being taken to insure the use of different view points, rhetorical devices, subject matter or even sides on a issue (for instance articles with independent slant rather than republican or democrat). We already know about the problems media have in representing Americans accurately behind and in-front of the camera. These filters on authenticity also dulls our expectation of uniqueness. For example, creating a new word will seem profound when for decades people have communicated with AI that have a limited vocabulary and limited ability to infer the meaning of words.
Some potential solutions to these problems are to still go through the rote social interactions at least some of the time and focus of their body language as a means to make it more interesting, for AI that creates articles and movies don’t have them replace authors just aid authors in producing the volume needed and having a human review the final draft like how the post has done with it’s AI system and utilize different systems that will give different results. Even when it come to telling others to ‘ask google’, instead of pushing the asker away, try to take a minute to think about a possible answer and explain what you think might be the case and then refer them to a search engine like duckduckgo.
The issue that arises is that given a profit/time motive the tools to outsource work can and will leak into daily life (for instance the deepnude app), making our lives more robotic and less imaginative. So we must purposely think about where organic authenticity is and where it should be salvaged and protected. And remember next time your friend asks you a question be happy they’d rather talk to you than to the internet. Please comment below about where you feel that authenticity should be protected.