Researchers from across the country in multiple disciplines discussed the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and the ethical questions the technology raises during a symposium Sept. 22 at Ohio State University. Centered on the theme “Is AI justice possible?” the symposium explored topics including the use of AI in environmental sciences, criminal justice and the arts.
The Ohio State Humanities Institute and College of Arts and Sciences presented the symposium at the Ohio Union as part of a joint project on artificial intelligence in engineering, arts and humanities.
“The goal of this project is the interaction between different perspectives,” said Barry Shank, director of the Humanities Institute. “We can address common themes, we can address differences of point of view. »
Many scientists, futurologists and philosophers predict that the use of AI will lead to technological advancements in the coming years. However, potential progress must be accompanied by safeguards to protect individual privacy, job security and personal safety, said Roman Yampolskiy, associate professor of computer engineering and computer science at the University of Louisville.
“We cannot control machines that are smarter than us forever,” he said. “That is problematic.”
Although AI poses threats that have yet to be determined, the technology has myriad positive uses, including enabling advances in environmental science, said Wai Chee Dimock, professor emeritus of American and environmental studies. English at Yale University.
“AI can intervene in ways that support both non-human ecosystems and human communities, particularly indigenous communities,” she said.
Dimock discussed the partnership between the Tembé indigenous tribe in Brazil and the San Francisco nonprofit Rainforest Connection. Through this partnership, the Tembé people are using recycled cell phones to monitor illegal logging in the Amazon rainforest.
“It’s a very, very advanced type of phone,” she said, “and it’s made by STEM students.”
Dimock also shared details about AI-based technology built by Cornell University and the University of Hawaii and used to monitor the health of transplanted, heat-resistant coral reefs in Mo’orea, French Polynesia .
“AI and power sensors can do a much better job than (humans)” at monitoring coral reefs in remote locations, she said. “We are not good at analyzing masses of data. AI can do it.
Mathias Risse, director of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at Harvard University, said the accelerated rise of AI has sparked a debate over whether the technology will eventually develop a form of consciousness comparable to that humans.
A key point of debate, he said, is whether this technology should benefit from the rights afforded to humans, such as the freedom to decide what kind of work to do.
“It’s a fascinating time for philosophers,” Risse said. “These questions take on a new kind of urgency in the context of artificial intelligence.”