AI has become our boss: it manages our economy, parts of our personal lives, and impacts us every time we go online.
AI Has More Influence Than You Think
The Spotify library has more than 30 million songs in it. It’s impossible to listen to every one of those songs during a single lifetime, even if you increase your listening time to 12 hours a day. And yet, we are happy to use Spotify because Artificial Intelligence (AI) prepares your playlist based on individual musical tastes.
Today we are generating 2.5 exabytes of data a day. To put it in perspective, it would take only five exabytes to store all of the words ever spoken by humanity. The expansion of data generates a flood of information. We are faced with this informational tsunami in every digital media we use daily. The flood increases exponentially. AI has two strong features to deal with this. First, it is adjustable, and it adapts to this dizzying increase in data. Second, one of the functions of AI is to sort information.
AI is necessary to sort information and deliver what is being requested. Today it is hard to imagine manually searching for a name in a directory, or using a map to navigate. AI makes it possible to retrieve, compile, and format information, it’s a tremendous service.
AI is always there when you need it, but it’s also there when you don’t even think about it. It has no work hours, it’s always there, always active.
Ways AI Influences Our Choices
Someone said that YouTube is the largest university in the world. This sentence is now a reality, although it is okay to question if YouTube really helps you to learn things. It can’t be argued that videos of cats, memes, and bloopers, sometimes drown out the informative content. Yet, it is possible to learn a multitude of things. Later in the article, we will examine if the algorithm making choices for us brings more good or bad.
Let’s stay in the video streaming realm and talk about another service that famously uses AI. Netflix has a catalog of thousands of series, films, and documentaries. Each account is different. It is known that Netflix uses different thumbnails based on your preferences. This personalization is the work of AI, which will not only suggest a list of movies to see but will try to lure you in with a specifically selected image related to your personal likings. The choice of what to watch on a Friday night is thus made easier, in a way, controlled.
Facebook and Machine Learning
AI has in itself different areas, like deep learning, for example, which involves absorbing large volumes of data. The information presented is labeled, that is to say known. The result that the machine must achieve is also known. For Reinforcement Learning (RL), AI learns without necessarily having a lot of known data. An RL agent can improve and adapt thanks to a learning loop. This loop can give a multitude of results. It all depends on the degree of perception and the actions of AI.
Facebook newsfeed can be an example of a loop — the more we consume and like a particular type of content, the more it will be offered to us by the algorithm. For example, if you recently googled something, like best riding toys for toddlers, similar suggestions will definitely show up in your feeds. The value of this lies in the ability to suggest specific articles and the opportunity to measure consumer reactions.
The Necessity of Critical Thinking
AI is not without its biases because it is programmed by a human. A bit like a rough parent who instills rudeness in his child. The instance of sexism in giving bots, like Alexa exclusively female voices perfectly highlights this problem. Fake news and personalized ads before YouTube videos are the evils of today’s algorithms.
We draw your attention to the fact that today, it is no longer possible to distinguish a human voice from a synthesized one. Visual realism is getting closer and closer to this stage too. As a result, a new term was created: deepfake. Our critical thinking must be alert at all times if we do not want to fall into the trap of questionable information.
AI Is Boss
YouTube hosts hundreds of thousands of channels. But there’s a catch: we don’t choose what we watch. Since there is far too much content to sort through, we need the algorithm to help us find what we want to watch. As with Netflix, every YouTube account is unique.
Another consequence of the automatic YouTube suggestions is sometimes it takes us to the completely unrelated videos. Besides, youtubers are at the mercy of this algorithm, especially the trend rankings. So next time someone asks you, “Do you know someone who has AI as their boss?,” you will know what to answer: yes, all of the YouTubers!
AI Doesn’t Laugh
Back to machine learning. Of course, AI can not laugh, but it can learn from its mistakes. In any case, its program makes it possible to improve in any given task. As we mentioned before, AI adapts and progresses using learning loops. Therefore, we can think of humans as collections of many algorithms with consciousness. Besides, can we know for sure that we do have a conscience? Once again, these questions are the inexhaustible sources for debates that will be going on as long as we exist. It is conceivable that a program could theoretically know you much better than you can know yourself.
Working in Partnership with a Machine
AI has arrived, and it manipulates us in everyday life. We are becoming more aware of this. Excluding previous examples, the simplest proof is Google search. By a set of parameters and adjustments, you can make sure that Google’s AI shows ads to people most likely to click. Is it reliable? Yes, and you don’t have to dig deep to explain why — the investment returns speak for themselves. The combination of people and AI working together gives very powerful results.
Who Influences Whom?
Our every action is recorded, compiled and analyzed, and the process is becoming more and more precise. Our world is phygital; we experience the compression of physical reality and the expanse of a digital one, hence the blending of the words “physical” and “digital.” The algorithms provide us with products and services in line with our expectations. So we save time, and companies get more efficient in guessing our desires. On the other hand, with AI tools, we can deceive ourselves by thinking we’re still in control.
The optimistic way to think about this is to consider the younger generations. They are more in step with changes and find it easier to understand since the advanced tech was always part of their surroundings. Just like past discoveries and older tools were used for the betterment of humankind, maybe our youth can figure out the best way for AI to contribute to the improvement of our civilization.
Our digital behavior is influenced by AI much more than we think. In China, with applications like Alipay, peoples’ actions are noted, evaluated, and analyzed to the highest of levels.
With all that, what do you think? Do we control AI, or are we lying to ourselves and refusing to accept the truth that machines influence our decisions in a grander way than we are aware of?