Interacting with Artificial Intelligence

Image: Pavel Danilyuk


Society needs to be aware of the critical issues related to privacy, bias, discrimination and inequalities that artificial intelligence can exacerbate

“The human spirit must prevail over technology” (Albert Einstein)

Human-computer interaction is advancing more and more, which makes everyday life easier. An example of this is the practicality obtained with Artificial Intelligence (AI), which allows greater agility in accessing knowledge combined with less bureaucracy. Artificial Intelligence is a technology that has applications ranging from the simplest tasks, such as searching for a concept worked on in the classroom, to the most complex, such as strategic business planning.

However, this technological revolution brings with it some ethical and social problems that have a negative impact on society. With all this power, it is necessary to have the responsibility of knowing how to use this technology in a positive and sensible way. If algorithms are delegated the responsibility of interacting with humans, making decisions and carrying out tasks, how can we ensure that it will be carried out ethically?

Every technology that emerges to benefit society brings with it risks and problems when used incorrectly, as is the case with social networks, biotechnology, weapons and nuclear energy. Artificial Intelligence is a set of technologies that create systems responsible for carrying out tasks that, until then, were performed by human beings. The ethical implications of using Artificial Intelligence are profound and complex, considering the damage that can be caused in the configuration of today's society. Among the main issues related to ethics, there are several problems related to privacy, diversity, transparency, security, etc.

Artificial Intelligence requires training to function correctly, which can be carried out using a variety of techniques and tools, depending on the task that Artificial Intelligence must perform. For example, in language models (which is one of the most popular applications of Artificial Intelligence) training is carried out through data collection. This collection is done through texts that are extracted from various sources, such as books, websites, social networks, articles, etc.

Numerous Artificial Intelligence applications require a huge volume of data that can lead to excessive collection of people's data, such as information about location, search history, family data or even biometric data. Data collection raises many relevant questions about privacy, due to the way data is stored, used and protected. This becomes a critical issue, as a possible leak of sensitive data could result in crimes such as identity theft and fraud.

Another critical issue associated with the use of Artificial Intelligence is related to Bias and discrimination. Bias is the bias or distortion of information that the system presents, leading to unfair or inaccurate results. Collecting data for training can reproduce historical biases from the various sources consulted. To illustrate, imagine that a company decides to use Artificial Intelligence to hire new employees and that the data used to train the system showed a gender bias (men occupying leadership positions).

From this, artificial intelligence can learn to favor male candidates when selecting similar positions. Discrimination is present in results that reproduce prejudices regarding gender, sexual orientation, religion, race, origin or other particularities, treating people and social groups unequally.

These critical issues are linked to a long historical process, involving economic, social and political factors, in which richer nations are faster in developing technological advances compared to poorer nations. Thus, the use of Artificial Intelligence can affect the global economy and continue to reproduce inequalities between nations, since countries that have more resources and advanced infrastructure in Research and Development have an advantage in creating cutting-edge technologies. The result will be a technological gap between the most developed and least developed nations, which influences the population's income and the ability to deal with national problems.

Given this, the promotion of education applied to the development of technological skills must be encouraged by the State, especially in less favored countries. This has the potential to reduce the technological gap between countries while developing people's awareness of how AI is made and how personal data is used. This is important to break the cycle of reproduction of inequalities and discrimination. As we advance human-computer interaction, it is imperative that we ensure that technological progress is accompanied by ethical and educational progress.

Society needs to be aware of the critical issues related to privacy, bias, discrimination and inequalities that artificial intelligence can exacerbate. By investing in promoting education aimed at developing technological skills, especially in less favored nations, we can create a more equitable and conscious path. This way, we can ensure that the human spirit not only prevails over technology, but also directs it towards a more just, inclusive and ethical future.

Leandro Oliveira da Silva is studying for a master's degree in computer science at the Federal University of São Paulo (Unifesp).

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