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Artificial Intelligence bringing tough ethical decisions to business


It is not hyperbolic to say it:

The coming of Artificial Intelligence raises perplexing ethical and moral dilemmas for global society not seen since the splitting of the atom. Is the new magna force more of a danger than a blessing?

Last week, while Silicon Valley moguls debated theoretically on whether AI was “potentially more dangerous than nukes” “Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk and the Feud Over Killer Robots”

a real-time, real-world controversy demonstrated that such issues are already upon us:

Google had to phase out its use of AI in a military application. Besieged by thousands of its employees — and others — the company announced that it will not extend its contract next year with the U.S. Defense Department for AI used to analyze drone video.

The decision is seen by many as a response to “alarms over the technological buildup between Silicon Valley and the military”, according to The Washington Post.

Google is expected to soon announce new principles for its ethical use of AI.

AI for the military, like many AI applications, is not easily reconciled in high-stakes ethical debate  including national security.

The New York Times: “Artificial intelligence research has enormous implications both as an economic engine and a source of military superiority. The Chinese government has said it is willing to spend billions in the coming years to make the country the world’s leader in A.I., while the Pentagon is aggressively courting the tech industry for help. A new breed of autonomous weapons can’t be far away…

“Such influential figures as the Microsoft founder Bill Gates and the late Stephen Hawking have expressed concern about creating machines that are more intelligent than we are. Even though super intelligence seems decades away, they and others have said, shouldn’t we consider the consequences before it’s tool late?”

 Even as philosophers, scientists and other deep thinkers wrestle with this dilemma, it will often be the business leader, like Google in the case of the military drone, that will have to make the very difficult decisions, in some cases foregoing a market and revenue. 

 Therefore, the derivative questions:

What are the new social responsibilities to be faced by such companies?

 “What does a company owe to its country — and society?”