How robots make us smarter

Has humanity just gotten really smarter about artificial intelligence?

This could be the case with a 39-page set of recommendations released last week by the United Nations.

The document, the result of three years of work by hundreds of experts, has been endorsed by 193 countries. For the first time globally, it spells out universal values ​​for the ethics needed to ensure that AI-based technologies – from facial surveillance to driverless cars – “deliver for good.” These values ​​include transparency, social inclusion, accountability and “explainability”.

“These new technologies must help us meet the major challenges of our world today, such as increased inequalities and the environmental crisis, and not make them worse,” said Gabriela Ramos, Deputy Director General of the United Nations. United Nations for education, science and culture. .

The new UNESCO standard is seen only as an “incentive” for nations to integrate ethics into their AI systems. Yet this is in addition to other recent efforts to bring a higher order of thought to the use of computer algorithms now reaching a scale and speed not even imagined in the best of science fiction dating back to the 1818 novel. by Mary Shelley “Frankenstein”.

One of the most active efforts to set standards for AI is the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence. This coalition of 20 countries, set up in 2020 by France and Canada, aims to ensure that advanced technologies promote the values ​​of democracy and equality.

The ethical challenges inherent in AI – particularly robotic military weapons and mass surveillance – are numerous. The UNESCO report, for example, asserts that the ultimate responsibility for AI technologies must lie with humans and that even the most intelligent devices “should not themselves be given legal personality.”

The challenges posed by machines capable of learning and adapting in turn force humans to learn and adapt. It helps develop human intelligence, forces a higher concept of consciousness, and emphasizes the source of intelligence itself, beyond material origins. The more qualities of human thought are built into AI, such as trust and empathy, the more AI designers and regulators need to extend their own thinking.

The UNESCO report is a good example of this progress. Humanity can be smarter, in a very tangible way, and “give for good.”

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