[2023 kcdc] With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: The Ethics of AI

Speaker: Matthew Renze

Twitter: @matthewrenze

For more, see the table of contents.


Tech has a tendency to be abused

  • land – slaves
  • mechanized¬†war fare – expand influence
  • cyberware¬†– mass surveillance

Alice and Bob

  • Need to decide if want to get cat or dog for kids.
  • One researches cats and one dogts.
  • Get into info bubble thinking cat lovers hate dogs and vice versa and mad at each other
  • Then talk to real people, learn people like both and get a cat and a dog.
  • A generation later they lose their jobs due to robots/AI. Their kids see lots of jobs because tech savvy.
  • Kids convince parents to upskill and get new job
  • Another generation later grandkids want biological augmentation and to marry an AI.
  • Feel lost in world no longer recognize
  • Learn about technology and see it is an evolution. Learn from grandchildren.


  • When search for something, get more of it.
  • Then info bubble/echo chambers
  • Goal is to maximize engagement. This results in more extreme content so people click
  • Lose privacy – ex: shopping data predict pregenancy
  • Can deanonymomize data with data of birth, sez and zip code
  • Little privacy now and soon a lot less
  • Algorithmic bias – ex: racially bias criminal risk score, males preferred in resumes


  • Uncanny valley – distrust things that almost like us
  • Hallucination – making up believeable, but false info
  • Misinformation at scale
  • Lack of AI literacy

What can we do

  • Delete cookies
  • Incognito mode
  • Throwaway emails
  • Stop using “click holes” to get pulled down rabbit holes
  • Opt out
  • Privacy regulations
  • Limit/stop using social media
  • Talk to other people

AI Developers

  • Eliminate bias in data – diverse datasets, exclude protected attributes, retrain algorithm over time
  • Be able to explain how AI made decision. Use decision tree vs neural network where can.
  • Let users choose how much error they allow
  • Don’t allow full autonomous

Fight misinformation

  • Who is the author/publisher?
  • What are their sources?
  • How strong is the evidence?

Near Future

  • Significant unemployment – simple/repetitive/costly jobs. Expect 20%+ jobs to go away by 20230 and be replaced by other higher tech jobs
  • Labor market unprepared for rapid change
  • Society is unprepared for change.
  • Many people left behind in poverty.
  • Synthetic media – indistinguishable from human data. Propaganda/misinformation at scale. Deep fakes. Deep nude (remove clothes without permission), etc
  • With 10 likes, AI knows you well as colleague.
  • Surveillance capitalism – can’t detect being manipulated
  • Greater social stratification – income gap
  • Safety issues – does self driving car protect driver or pedestrian
  • Autonomous weapons – currently a human is in the loop


  • Educate everyone/AI literacy, Basics of ML, DL (deep learning), RL (reinforcement learning)
  • Job retraining
  • Retirement options for those too old to reskill
  • Mandatory higher ed – mandatory high school was controversial
  • Universal basic income/negative income task
  • Deep fake detection – arms race
  • Digital alibi – so can prove what doing at all times and therefore not in fake ideo
  • Blockchain for everything so have complete audit trail
  • Default mode of skepticism

Further Future – Speculative

  • AGI (artificial general intelligence) – at least as smart as average person
  • Improve health
  • Solve biggest problem – climate change, politics, government
  • Humans could become obsolete – ex: horses became obsolete to farms. “Peak horse” was in 1915
  • Collapse of modern institutions – could break capitialism.
  • Changes already faster than society can adapt. What happens when new discoveries every day?
  • Dystopian future – authoritarianism, communism, fascism, AI religion, AI super bureaucracy
  • Or a better AI based government
  • ASI (artificial super intelligence) – if create AGI, intelligence exposion can happen fast. AGI can rewrite its own code.
  • Alignment problem – how do we align human and AI values. Reward hacking – find loopholes
  • AI run amok – what happens if robot mine astroids. When does it stop
  • Conflicts – are we pets, ants, raw materials, competition, a threat?


  • We evolved for short bursts of stress.
  • Modern society is chronic stress
  • Be mindful with tech
  • Respect AI
  • Don’t fear/fight change
  • Use tech when beneficial and skip when not
  • Reward AI goal states
  • Keep ability to intervene if decision doesn’t align

Long run

  • Peacefully coexist with AI
  • AI wins
  • AI and humanity merge – most likely option
  • Humanity ends itself


  • No “us vs them” problem.
  • Phones an extension of us
  • Younger generation willing to merge with mind
  • VR/AR glasses
  • Gene editing
  • Brain/computer interfaces
  • Next version of people likely to be vary different

My take

The Alice and Bob stories are fun. There was a ton of information. It went very fast and definitely need time to process. I expected more discussion of ethics rather than covering “everything” but I’m happy with how it turned out.

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