On the BBC’s anthology series Black Mirror, each episode explores a near-future dystopia. In each episode, a small extrapolation from current technological trends leads us into a terrifying future. The series should conjure modern-day Cassandras like Cathy O’Neil, who has made a second career out of exhorting caution against algorithmic decision-making run amok. In particular, she warns that algorithmic decision-making systems, if implemented carelessly, might increase inequality, twist incentives, and perpetrate undesirable feedback loops. For example, a predictive policing system might direct aggressive policing in poor neighborhoods, drive up arrests, depress employment, orphan children, and lead, ultimately, to more crime.
Continue reading “Cathy O’Neil Sleepwalks into Punditry”
Meet Erica, the world’s most human-like autonomous android. From its title alone, this documentary promises a sensational encounter. As the screen fades in from black, a marimba tinkles lightly in the background and a Japanese alleyway appears. Various narrators ask us:
“What does it mean to think?”
“What is human creativity?”
“What does it mean to have a personality?”
“What is an interaction?”
“What is a minimal definition of humans?”
The title, these questions, and nearly everything that follows mislead. This article is an installment in a series of posts addressing the various sources of misinformation feeding the present AI hype cycle.
Continue reading “Press Failure: The Guardian’s “Meet Erica””