In terms of AI’s potential dangers, we quote Nilay Patel of The Verge: “Microsoft is having to carefully explain how its new search engine will be prevented from helping to plan school shootings.”
That statement sums up an important part of the potential dark side of AI. To the extent anyone has addressed the dangers of AI, they’ve tended to focus on the slightly science fiction idea of an algorithm upgrading itself past human control and becoming an independent, potentially malevolent entity. Less exciting but more probable, AI could also become an indispensable element of the worst things humans do to each other. Most experts expect AI to become part of everyday life for the digital-enabled world. If that’s the case, it will need ethical safeguards to keep it from aiding in crime, terrorism, and similar malfeasance.
Per Microsoft’s Sarah Bird, the company’s new AI tools have those safeguards built in. The company took on the “sentient malevolent AI” concern first, building its AI solutions on a “copilot” basis requiring human interaction at every step. As for bad actors using AI as a tool, The Verge says that Microsoft will “continuously test conversations and analyze them to classify conversations and improve the gaps in the safety system.” That model of constantly updating safety tools will also take place on the user’s side; according to Bird, “we have gone further than we ever have before to develop approaches to measurement to risk mitigation,” incorporating a constant review of search engine prompts to guarantee user control of AI’s riskier features.
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