Stanford to study social impact of artificial intelligence

With our panoply of smart machines increasingly making decisions for us, Stanford University on Tuesday announced it is launching a century-long study to examine the societal implications of artificial intelligence.

The study will look into everything from the impact artificial intelligence will have on law and democracy to economics and warfare. It also will focus heavily on how individuals will react to being surrounded by brainy machines, according to a paper by Eric Horvitz, a Stanford alumnus and director of Microsoft’s research lab in Redmond, WA, who is financing the study with his wife, Mary Horvitz.

Among the questions to be examined, the paper said, is “what are the implications for privacy of systems that can make inferences about the goals, intentions, identity, location, health, beliefs, preferences, habits, weaknesses, and future actions and activities of people?”

The effect of these smart devices on our psyche will be another area of study.

“What are the psychological implications of implementations of intelligence in our various environments?,” the paper added. “For example, how will our self-conception—our sense of who we are—change with the rise of machines with human-like qualities and competencies? What is the evolving nature of relationships with intelligent software and systems? What is the basis for anxieties about machines over the centuries, and how might anxieties about smart machines stimulate fear and discomfort?”

Photo from the movie AI, by BANG archives


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