The hidden danger of letting AI decide – losing the ability to make choices for yourself

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As artificial intelligence intrudes more into people’s daily lives, so do concerns about it. Most alarming are concerns about AI becoming rogue and overpowering its human masters.

But behind the calls to halt the development of AI is a set of more tangible social ills. These include the threats AI poses to people’s privacy and dignity, and the inescapable fact that because the algorithms under AI’s hood are programmed by humans, it is biased and discriminatory, just like many of us. There’s a lack of transparency about how AI is designed, and by whom, and it’s easy to understand why so much time these days is spent debating its dangers. That his ability.

But my own research as a psychologist who studies how people make decisions leads me to believe that all of these risks stem from an even more sinister, though largely invisible, risk. are in the shade. That is, AI is just keystrokes away from making people even less disciplined and skilled when it comes to thoughtful decisions.

Making thoughtful decisions

The process of making thoughtful decisions involves three common sense steps that begin with taking the time to understand the task or problem you are facing. Ask yourself, what do you need to know, and what do you need to do to make a decision that you can later confidently and confidently defend?

Answering these questions depends on actively seeking information that both fills in gaps in your knowledge and challenges your prior beliefs and assumptions. In fact, it’s misinformation — the alternative possibilities that emerge when people free themselves from certain assumptions — that ultimately prepare you to defend your decisions when they’re criticized.

Thoughtful decisions involve considering your values ​​and weighing trade-offs.

The second step is to explore and consider multiple options at a time. Want to improve your quality of life? Whether it’s who you vote for, the jobs you accept or the things you buy, there’s always more than one road that will get you there. Spending the effort to actively consider and rank at least a few plausible options, and in such a way that you are honest about the trade-offs you make to balance their pros and cons. Are prepared for, is the hallmark of a thoughtful and defensible choice.

The third step is being willing to postpone closing on a decision until you’ve done all the necessary heavy lifting. It’s no secret: closure feels good because it means you’ve put a difficult or important decision behind you. But the cost of moving ahead prematurely can be greater than taking the time to do your homework. If you don’t believe me, just think of all the times you’ve let your emotions guide you, only to regret it because you didn’t take the time to think a little harder.

Risks of AI Outsourcing Decisions

None of these three steps are too difficult to take. But, for most, they’re not even intuitive. Making thoughtful and defensible decisions takes practice and self-discipline. And this is where AI exposes people to the hidden pitfalls: AI does most of its “thinking” behind the scenes and presents users with answers that are out of context and consideration. They do. Worse, AI robs people of the opportunity to follow the process of making thoughtful and defensible decisions on their own.

Consider how people today approach many important decisions. Humans are notorious for being prone to a wide range of biases because we tend to be thrifty when it comes to expending mental energy. This rationality leads people to like when decisions are made that appear to them to be good or trustworthy. And we are social animals who value the safety and acceptance of our communities more than we value our autonomy.

Add AI to the mix and the result is a dangerous feedback loop: the data that AI is mining to fuel its algorithms consists of people’s biased judgments that also yield to conformity pressures rather than the wisdom of critical reasoning. shows. But because people like to make decisions for them, they accept those bad decisions and move on to the next decision. In the end, neither we nor AI get any smarter.

Thinking in the age of AI

It would be wrong to argue that AI will not benefit society. This is most likely, especially in fields such as cyber security, healthcare and finance, where complex models and large amounts of data need to be analyzed routinely and rapidly. However, most of our everyday decisions don’t require that kind of analytical horsepower.

But whether we ask for it or not, many of us already interact with — and through — AI in settings ranging from entertainment and travel to schoolwork, healthcare, and finance. Task given – Advice obtained. And designers are hard at work on next-generation AI that will be able to automate more of our everyday decisions. And that is dangerous in my view.

In a world where what and how people think is already under siege thanks to social media algorithms, if we allow AI to reach a level of sophistication where it can make all kinds of decisions, we’ll find ourselves They risk putting themselves in an even more dangerous position. For our part, indeed, we owe it to ourselves to resist the siren call of AI and take back ownership of the true privilege – and responsibility – of being human: being able to think and make choices for ourselves. We will feel better and, more importantly, be better if we do.

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