6 big ethical questions about the future of AI | Genevieve Bell
It took a lease hume so much of how we understand. The world comes down to questions because questions help frame ideas in her talk at ted salon. Twenty twenty after apologised. Genevieve bell tackles the coming artificial intelligence or ai. Revolution with questions. She explains what we should be thinking about as ai scales and how a new system of automation is created for the world oil. Hi i'm show murad as the director of the ted fellows program. I get to work. With some of the most incredible women at the forefront of change in our society. I've been inspired by how they take on challenges especially the ups and downs that we all know every woman story of success and confidence. Thanks to dove advanced care. Chris friend i recently had a chance to explore those stories with a couple of our ted fellows. Stay tuned at the end of this episode for an enlightening conversation with astrophysicists. Erica handed ted talks. Daily is brought to you. By the project management institute the real thought leaders are the ones who turn ideas into action. Project management institute has partnered with ted to showcase the change makers turning ideas into reality. These powerful ted talks from ted at pm. I will inspire you to take action and make a big impact. Watch now at m. i dot org slash ted. Let me tell you a story about artificial intelligence. There's a building in sydney at number one. Bligh street it houses. Lots of government departments and busy people from the outside. It looks like something out of american science fiction. All gleaming gloss and curved lines and a piece of orange sculpture on the inside it has excellent coffee on the ground floor and my favorite lifts in sydney the beautiful. They look almost alive and it turns out on with lifts for lots of reasons but because lifts one of the places you can see the future in the twentieth century lifts are interesting because they one of the first places that i will touch you without you even knowing it happened in many buildings all around the world. The lifts are running a set of algorithms a form of proto artificial intelligence. That means before you even walk up to the lift to press. The button is anticipated. You being there. It's already rear engine. All the carriages always going down to save energy. And to know where. The traffic's gonna be by the time you've actually pressed the button already part of an entire system that's making sense of people and the environment and the building and the built world. I know when we talk about i. We often talk about a world of robots. It's easy for our imaginations to be occupied with science fiction. Well the last hundred years. I say a and you think vert terminator somewhere for us making the connection between and the built world. That's a hottest story to tell but the reality is is already everywhere around us and in many places it's in buildings and systems more than two hundred years of industrialization suggests that i will find its way to systems level style relatively easily after all one telling of that history suggests that all you have to do is find. Technology achieve scale and revolution will follow the story of mechanization automation and digitization all point to the role of technology. And its importance. Those stories of technological transformation makes scale same well normal or did and stable and sometimes even predictable but it also puts the focus squarely on technology and technology change but i believe that scaling technology and building a system requires something more. We founded the three institute at the australian national university in september twenty seventeen it has one deceptively simple mission to establish a new branch of engineering to take a i safely sustainably and responsibly. The scale but how do you build a new branch of engineering in the twentieth century. Well teaching it into existence through an experimental education program. We're researching it into existence with locations as diverse as shakespeare's birthplace the great barrier reef not to mention one of australia's largest autonomous minds with theorizing into existence paying attention to the complexities of cybernetics. We're working to build something new and something useful. Something to create the next generation of critical thinkers and critical. Do's and we're doing all of that through a richer. Understanding of a is many pasts and many stories and by working collaboratively and collectively through teaching and research and engagement and by focusing as much on the framing of the questions. As the soloing of the problems we're not making a single. I making the possibilities for many. And we're actively working to decolonize imaginations and to build a curriculum and pedagogy that leaves room for a range of different conversations and possibilities when making and remaking and i know for always a work in progress. but here's a little glimpse into how we're approaching that problem of scaling future. We start by making sure. We're grounded in our own history. In december of two thousand eighteen. I took myself up to the town of borana on the new south wales queensland boorda. This place was a meeting place for aboriginal people for different groups together. Have ceremonies meat to be together. They're on the bow river. There's a set of fish we as one of the oldest and largest systems of additional fish traps in australia. This system is comprised of one point eight kilometers of stonewalls shape like a series of fishnets with the us pointing down the river allowing fish trapped at different heights of the water. There also fish holding pens with different height walls storage designed to change the way the water moves and to be able to stall big and little fish and to keep those fish in cool clear running water. This fish traps system was away to ensure that you could feed people as they gathered there in a place that was both a meeting of rivers and a meeting of cultures. It isn't about the rocks or even the traps per se. It is about the system that those traps created one that involves technical knowledge cultural knowledge. An ecological knowledge. This system is old. Some archaeologists think it's as old as forty thousand years. The last time we have it's recorded uses is in the nineteen it's had remarkable longevity and incredible scale and it's an inspiration to me and a photo of the we are is on our walls here at the institute to remind us of the promise and the challenge of building something meaningful and to remind us that we're building systems in a place where people have built systems and sustained those same systems for generations. It isn't just history. It's a legacy as we seek to establish a new branch of engineering to build that legacy and assets a pocus. I think we need a clear framework for asking questions about the future questions which there aren't radio. Easy answers here. The point is the asking of the questions. we believe. You need to go. Beyond the traditional approach of problem solving to the more complicated one of question asking and question framing because in so doing you up all kinds of new possibilities and new challenges for me right now. There are six big questions that fame our approach for taking a i safely sustainably responsibly. To scale questions about autonomy agency assurance indicators interfaces and intentionally the first question we ask is a simple one is the system autonomous. Think back to that. Lift on bli- st. The reality is one day that lift. Maybe autonomous which is to say it will be able to act without being told to act but it isn't fully autonomous right. It can't leave that bligh street building and wanted to circulate for it goes up and down. That's all but it doesn't by itself. It's autonomous in that sense. The second question we ask. Does this system have agency. Does this system have controls and limits that live somewhere that prevent it from doing certain kinds of things under certain conditions. The reality with lifts. That's absolutely the case. Think of any lift you've seen in. There's a red key slot in the elevator carriage that an emergency services person can stick a key into an override the whole system when that system is driven. Where does the case is it. Is it a digital k. Who gets to use it. Is that the emergency services people. And how would you know if that was happening. How it will that be manifested to you in the lift. The third question we ask is how do we think about assurance. How do we think about all of its paces. Safety security trust risk liability manageability explicable ethics public policy. Law regulation and. How would we tell you that. The system was safe and functioning. The fourth question we ask is all be our interfaces with these. Ai driven systems where we talk to them. Well they talked to us. We'll talk to each other. And what will it mean to have a series of technologies. We've known for some of us all our lives now. Suddenly behave in highly different ways lifts qasr electrical grid traffic lights things in your hung the fifth question for these. Ai driven systems. Would he indicate as beta show that they're working well. Two hundred years of the industrial revolution tells us the two most important ways to think about a good system where productivity and efficiency in the twentieth century might want to expand that just a little bit is the system. Sustainable is it. Safe is responsible who gets to judge those things for us users of the systems would want understand how these things are regulated managed and built. And then there's the final perhaps most critical question that you need to ask of these new systems. What's it's intent. What's the system designed to do who said that was a good idea or put another way. What is the world that this system is building. how is that world imagined. And what is its relationship to the world. We live today. Who gets to be part of that conversation. Who gets to articulate it. How does it get framed at imagined. There are no simple answers to these questions. Instead they frame what's possible and what we need to imagine design build regulate an even decommission. They points in the right directions and help us on a path to establish a new branch of engineering but critical questions on enough. You also need a way of holding all those questions together for us at the institute also really interested in how to think about ai system and where and how to draw the boundaries of that system and those feel like especially important things right now here were influenced by the work that was started way back in the nineteen forties in nineteen forty four along with anthropologist gregory bateson margaret mathematician. Norbert weena convened of conversations. That would become known as the macy's conferences on cybernetics ultimately between nineteen forty. Six and nine hundred fifty. Three ten conferences were held under the banner of cybernetics as defined by nobody. Lena cybernetic sought to quote develop a language and techniques that will enable us to indeed attack the problem of control and communication in advanced computing technologies. Cybernetics argued persuasively. That one had to think about the relationship between humans computers and the broader ecological world. You had to think about as a holistic system. Participants in the macy's conferences were concerned with how the mind worked with ideas about intelligence and learning about the role of technology in future. Sadly the conversations that started with the macy's conference are often forgotten. When the talk about. But for me there's something really important to reclaim here about the idea of a system that has to accommodate culture technology and the environment at the institute that sort of systems thinking is core to our work over the last three years. A whole collection of amazing. People have joined me here on this crazy journey to do this work. I staff includes anthropoid systems and environmental engineers and computer scientists as well as a nuclear physicist an award-winning photojournalist. And at least one policy and standards expert it's a heady mix and the range of experience and expertise is powerful asked. The complex and the challenges being diverse requires a constant willingness to find ways to hold people in conversation and dwell just a little bit with the conflict. We also worked out early. That the way to build a new way of doing things would require commitment to bringing others along on that same journey with us so we opened our doors to an education program very quickly and we launched our first master's program twenty eighteen. Since then we've had two cohorts of masters students and one cohort of students. Students come from all over the world and all of the life stralia new zealand nigeria and a mexico india the united states and they range in age from twenty three to sixty. They're variously had backgrounds in maths and music policy and performance systems and standards architecture and arts before they join us at the institute that ran companies that worked for government served in the army taught high school and managed arts organizations. They were adventurers and committed to each other to building. Something new and really. What more could you ask for. Because although i've spent twenty and silicon valley and i know the stories about the lone inventor and the hero's journey. I also know the reality that it's never just a hero's journey it's always a collection of people who have a shared sense of purpose who can change the world. So where do you start. Well i think you start where you stand for me that means. I want to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land upon which. I'm standing the nana wall nambi people. This is their land. Never seated always sacred. And i pay my respects to the elders past and present of this place. I also acknowledged that. We're gathering today in many other places. And i pay my respects to the regional owners and elders and all those places to it means a lot to me to get to say those words and to dwell on what they mean and signal and to remember that we live in a country that has been continuously occupied for at least sixty thousand years. Aboriginal people built will tear. They built social systems. They built technologies. There'd be ways to manage this place and to manage remarkably over a protracted period of time and every moment any one of stands on a stage as trillions here or abroad. We carry with us a privilege and a responsibility because of that history. And it's not just a history. It's also an incredibly rich set of resources world views and knowledge and it should run through all of our bones as she'll be the story we always tell ultimately it's about thinking differently asking different kinds of questions looking holistically at the world and the systems and finding other people who want to be on that journey with you because for me the only way to actually think about the future and scale is to always be doing collectively and because for me the notion of humans in it together is one of the ways we get to think about things that are responsible. Safe and ultimately sustainable. Thank you failure and success are not just linked. I think they are the same thing. That's erica hamden. she's a professor an answer physicists. Who builds telescopes and yes. She has an incredibly cool job. She's also a ted fellow and her ted talk on. The importance of failure has been watched. Almost two million times. I'm sure how murad director of the ted fellows program. I spoke to erica about. How hardships can lead to breakthroughs in confidence. But that doesn't mean that failing is something that's easy for erica. Okay i'll go to. Mit go to space. It's going to be awesome. Totally sounds awesome. It does sound awesome. Yeah yeah my eighteen year old self had it all figured out so easy so i went to mit. And i got there and it was a disaster. It was two thousand one. I was a very sheltered naive person. I was eighteen having to suddenly like make all these decisions for myself. I started having these basically panic attacks on a lot of anxiety You know. I didn't have the self-confidence at the time and so i ended up withdrawing and i just went home i really felt like i had failed in this like fundamental way and i remember feeling so low like my parents had come to pick me up and we were driving back to new jersey and i remember thinking like okay. I guess my life is over right. So i was at home because i had left after thanksgiving and end instead of building like a gingerbread house. I had seen on on north stewart. She made like a house out of sugarcubes with icing as mortar. I like built this like sugar. Cube house every day slowly slowly built this house and then at christmas it was done but it was this small tedious project that i could just do. What a metaphor for that moment brick by brick building your own house. Yeah at the time. It was a very difficult experience to go through but leaving. Mit was the best decision. That i think i've ever made i spent that whole rest of the year really like rebuilding my self and thinking about. Well what do i like. What is important to me. How did that moment in time change you. Think about failure. Now in the work i do. Now there's no guarantees that your biggest perriman is ever going to work. I think about on a day to day basis even if this failed in the future would i be happy with how today has gone and yesterday tomorrow so i just try and do it one day at a time so a lot of sugar cubes. Yeah i'm still building that house. What i hear from you over and over is that you're not thinking about endpoint of your telescopes. You're thinking about every day activities that give you smaller pieces of feedback that feed your confidence levels. Yeah confidence to me. Means the ability to do exactly what you want when you need and not worrying about what everyone else wants you to do. So when the goal is no longer external achievement but actually personal fulfilment. What does success look like more recently. I've discovered this different feeling of success. Which is not about what i do. But what about the people that work with me do. Now i feel like success is what have i done to bring up the people behind me or like around me Success like really about the community. That i'm trying to develop deva advanced care. Antiperspirant knows that the journey to success and confidence is a long one. So they're here to help. Give you a boost along the way. There are new. Formula with natural oil leaves underarms feeling healthy and protected. And you more confident and carefree. Don't let under our maurice or if you're a failure hold you back head to ted dot com slash. That's t dot com slash d. o. v. e. to learn more about women like erica. Who are their own pathways for. Its confidence ex.