Why This Matters: AI and You

| Feb 8, 2022

How technology impacts your life

By Allyn Summa, Executive Director

This letter originally appeared as an IGA newsletter on November 16, 2021. Subscribe to read more from Allyn and the IGA team.

Whether you realize it or not, when you read news on Facebook or watch the latest viral dance on TikTok, you’re receiving a personalized experience curated by an algorithm. It may know you better than you know yourself.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not just the stuff of science fiction. It is already integrated into our lives and has the potential to transform the world in profound ways, from detecting disease to helping humans find solutions to climate change. But what if, instead of expanding the horizons of human knowledge and connection, AI and attempts by governments and tech companies to govern its use create a bubble that limits your expression and access to information?

In a high-tech version of “preaching to the choir,” algorithms can create echo chambers by feeding information that reinforces rather than challenges assumptions. This becomes more problematic when AI driven misinformation enters the equation. While AI can be employed to target misinformation, there are no simple solutions. Programmers may code, intentionally or not, their own biases into the tools they create. And how can we ensure that AI doesn’t mistakenly remove accurate information?  

Geopolitical rivalry can also restrict access to information. America attempted to ban the popular Chinese owned TikTok over concerns about misinformation and privacy. This may pave the way to a future of increased government regulation. Attempts by countries to stem the flow of data leaving their borders may create a world that is less interconnected as AI adapts to provide country or region-specific experiences.  

With innovation appearing to advance at breakneck speed, it’s easy to feel that technology’s users are losing control. But neither artificial intelligence, nor the governments and companies looking to monitor and regulate its use, must have the final say in what the future looks like. People can, and should, have a voice in the matter. This is why EGF developed the series, Digital Revolution: Technology, Power, and You so people can gain a better understanding of how technology is impacting their lives and the world they live in. 

From time to time, I will tackle and unpack topics of the day, to break down complex issues as we continue grappling with the question: Why does this matter? 

Please drop me a note. What global issues matter to you? 

Written by Allyn Summa

Allyn Summa is the executive director of the Foundation. Drop Allyn a note and let us know what global issues you think about.

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