Exploring Narratives of AI

June 11, 2018
London, UK

Arohi Jain joined the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge and the Royal Society to discuss AI narratives and their impact on society during the CogX Festival of AI, June 11th-12th, 2018.

The definition, rise and trajectory of Artificial Intelligence is deeply embedded in and informed by prevailing narratives of technology. AI, as with all past technologies, does not operate in a vacuum that is separate or circumvents societal perspectives, values, and influence. The rapid development and deployment of AI technologies make it a powerful asset, or a weapon, and how we frame the conversation matters. AI can be understood as the result of a complex socio-technical system, whereby, science, technology, and society are engaged in a continuous and evolving cycle of “co-production”. New technologies continuously redefine societal values and thus policies. Changes in values and policy shape developments in AI. A dynamic understanding of our collective visions serves as a key anchor to holistically evaluating how AI will impact humanity.

However, conversations on artificial intelligence technologies, at least from a Western perspective, seem to take on either a tone of wild optimism or of melodramatic pessimism. AI appears to provoke extreme imaginaries for humanity, framing the prospect of intelligent machines either as a savior or destroyer of humans. Such imaginaries and narratives that follow have significant consequences for the way in which AI is developed and deployed.