April 28, 2021 12:48 pm Published by

“Fundamentally, AI [Artificial Intelligence] is becoming more accepted and utilised across all areas of life and people are experiencing the benefits,” says Mark Nicholson, CEO, Vivacity Labs.


AI extends to all walks of life; from the way we search online, measure performance and innovate technology. Predominantly used as a positive tool,  AI has an array of benefits, however, what ethical boundaries are in place for such tools? And, in an increasingly globalised world, who sets the terms for such boundaries too?


Perseverance alongside Ingenuity – Mars exploration.


Accompanying NASA’s new Mars rover, Perseverance, will be Ingenuity, the first autonomously flown powered aircraft on another planet. Weighing only four pounds, and solar powered, this new attempt at using AI enables engineers to open up a whole new dimension of the exploration of Mars, according to Bob Balaram, Ingenuity’s chief engineer. 


Growing space food with AI


As the exploration of Mars grows, so too does the development of plant growth automation using AI as “greenhouses are likely to be the only source of fresh food for Mars space crews and settlers”, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology. Located near the South Pole. This technology is already being used at the Antarctic Neumayer Station III to understand more about plant growth and seedling health without human involvement. By using AI, engineers believe they are removing yet another obstacle from further Mars exploration and habitation. 


AI at war


Additionally, there are also further plans to use AI technology in a variety of atmospheric conditions including under and in the sea and in the air. In an attempt to develop a Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessel (LRUSV) in the form of an 11-metre boat, Metal Shark, a Louisiana- based shipbuilder, plans to use AI to attack targets at sea and on land. Smaller than its predecessors, LRUSVs are designed to be safe at sea and used in collaboration with other LRUSVs. In doing so, deploying a cluster of vessels that have the capability of marine warfare. 


Clearly, AI has developed remarkable technological advancements recently, however, are there other facets of AI that have not been so welcomed? 


Influencing behaviour with malicious AI. 


In a study undertaken by researcher from the University of Amsterdam, the Max Planck Institute, the Otto Beisheim School of Management and the University of Cologne, entitled “The Corruptive Force of AI-Generated Advice”, clarified that malicious AI advice could persuade individuals to act in an ethically questionable way, more so than encouraging AI advice did. Therefore, it is evident that maliciously trained AI can influence behaviour even when participants are aware of the morally correct decision. These results are proved to be reliable as they mimic the results of Miligram’s 1961 study which notes that an authority bias can result in influence.


Although AI tech has been utilised in many areas of modern life, there are sceptics who discuss the regulations and ethical implications of AI. Co-author of “The Ethical Algorithm” and computer scientist at the University of Pennsylvania, Michael Kearns has stated that as a result of AI academic research being fully deployed into society, it comes with a higher degree of responsibility to understand the impacts. Coupled with this, computer scientist Katherine Heller notes that the subject of ethics in AI research is new territory. Consequently, it is evident that AI research has norms, not rules, and it’s ethics are often self-regulated.

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