Here’s how science fiction could conserve us from bad technology

Here’s how science fiction could conserve us from bad technology

By Blair Morris

October 16, 2019

The short film “Slaughterbots” depicts a near future in which swarms of micro drones assassinate countless people for their political beliefs. Launched in November 2017 by academics and activists warning of the risks of innovative synthetic intelligence (AI), it rapidly went viral, bring in over 3 million views to date. It assisted stimulate a public debate on the future of self-governing weapons and put pressure on diplomats fulfilling at the United Nations Convention on Conventional Defense

However this sort of speculative sci-fi storytelling isn’t simply useful for attracting attention. Individuals who create and develop advanced innovation can use stories to consider the repercussions of their work and guarantee it is utilized for good. And we believe this sort of “science fiction prototyping” or “style fiction” could help prevent human biases from working their way into new technology, further entrenching society’s prejudices and oppressions.

A predisposition can cause the approximate preference of some classifications (of outcomes, individuals, or concepts) over others. For example, some individuals might be biased versus hiring women for executive jobs, whether they understand it or not

Innovation built around data that records such predisposition can wind up duplicating the problem For circumstances, recruitment software application created to select the best CVs for a specific task might be set to search for qualities that reflect an unconscious predisposition towards guys. In which case, the algorithm will wind up favoring men’s CVs. And this isn’t theoretical– it actually happened to Amazon

Designing algorithms without thinking about possible unfavorable ramifications has actually been compared to medical professionals “discussing the benefits of a given treatment and totally overlooking the side effects, no matter how major they are”.

Some tech companies and researchers are trying to deal with the issue. For instance, Google drew up a set of ethical concepts to direct its development of AI. And UK academics have released an initiative called Not-Equal that intends to motivate higher fairness and justice in the style and usage of technology.

The problem is that, openly, companies tend to deliver only a positive vision of the potential effects of near-future innovations. For instance, driverless automobiles are often portrayed as solving all our transport concerns from expense to security, overlooking the increased risks of cyberattacks or the reality they might motivate individuals to walk or cycle less

The difficulty in understanding how digital innovations work, especially those that are heavily driven by obscure algorithms, also makes it harder for people to have a complex and extensive view of the problems. This scenario produces a stress between a comforting favorable story and the unclear suspicion that predispositions are ingrained to some degree in the technologies around us. This is where we believe storytelling through design fiction can come in.

Stories are a natural method of thinking of possibilities and intricate circumstances, and we have been hearing them all our lives. Sci-fi can help us hypothesize on the impact of near-future technologies on society, as Slaughterbots does. This can even consist of issues of social justice, like the method specific groups, such as refugees and migrants, can be omitted from digital developments.

Revealing the (possible) future

Design fiction stories offer an unique method for designers, engineers and futurists (to name a few) to think of the effect of technology from a human viewpoint and link this to possible future requirements. With a mixture of logic and imagination, design fiction can reveal aspects of how innovation may be adopted and utilized, beginning conversations about its future ramifications

For example, the narrative “ Crime-sourcing” explores what might take place if AI was to utilize crowdsourced information and a lawbreaker database to predict who may devote a murder. The researchers discovered that since the database had lots of individuals in minority ethnic groups who, for social factors, were statistically more most likely to reoffend, the “crime-sourcing” model was most likely to mistakenly suspect minorities than white individuals.

You don’t need to be a skilled author or make a slick movie to produce style fiction. Brainstorming activities including cards and storyboards have been used to establish style fiction and assistance establish the storytelling process. Making workshops that used these type of tools more typical would allow more engineers, business owners and policymakers to utilize this technique of assessment. And making the resulting work openly offered would help to expose prospective biases in innovations prior to they impact society.

Encouraging designers to develop and share more stories in this way would guarantee the story that underpins new innovation would not simply provide a favorable photo, nor an extremely unfavorable or dystopian one. Instead, individuals will have the ability to value both aspects of what is happening around us.

This post is republished from The Discussion by Alessio Malizia, Teacher of User Experience Style, University of Hertfordshire and Silvio Carta, Head of Art and Style and Chair of the Style Research Study Group, University of Hertfordshire under an Imaginative Commons license. Check out the original post

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About Blair Morris