As I was putting this issue together, things were feeling a bit dark between the warnings of the AI documentary film Do You Trust This Computer, the deepfakes segment and the the autonomous weapons segment. I’m generally an overtly optimistic person and I think these technological movements will be making life much better in so many ways. But there’s no escaping the potential dangers that many of these advances present.
In the Q&A at the speaking events and panel moderating I do, the questions from the audience always highlight the double-edged sword of impactful technologies — if the power is concentrated, it can be abused. But if democratized, it can be exploited by bad actors. The same tools can be healthy or exploitive.
Ultimately it’s up to us to shape technology and form the societies we want. In order to do this effectively we have to anticipate how it might be used, for better or for worse. How could connecting the world not be a great thing? Facebook’s mission did not seem controversial up front, now we see it’s a mixed bag. Anticipating what could go wrong is an obligation and an opportunity. By envisioning the potential problems as thoroughly as possible up front, we stand a better chance of avoiding or minimizing them and achieving an optimal outcome.
So with that, let’s look into the darkness (and then end on a more inspiring note)…