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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios
Applicants usually don't know when a startup has used artificial intelligence to triage their resume. When Big Tech deploys AI to tweak a social feed and maximize scrolling time, users often can't tell, either. The same goes when the government relies on AI to dole out benefits — citizens have little say in the matter, Kaveh Waddell reports.
What's happening: As companies and the government take up AI at a delirious pace, it's increasingly difficult to know what they're automating — or hold them accountable when they make mistakes. If something goes wrong, those harmed have had no chance to vet their own fate.
Why it matters: AI tasked with critical choices can be deployed rapidly, with little supervision — and it can fall dangerously short.
The big picture: Researchers and companies are subject to no fixed rules or even specific professional guidelines regarding AI. Hence, companies have tripped up but suffered little more than a short-lived PR fuss.
The absence of rules of the road is in part because industry hands have cast tech regulation as troglodytic, says Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of the AI Now Institute at New York University. In addition, many AI systems and the companies that make them are opaque. "Technocratic smokescreens have made it difficult or intimidating for a lot of people to question the implications of these technologies," Whittaker tells Axios.
One result of these and other tech sector behaviors is to raise some people’s suspicions.
"This is a repeated pattern when market dominance and profits are valued over safety, transparency, and assurance," write Whittaker and her co-authors in an AI Now report published last month.
AI is mushrooming in business and government, but several groups of Americans aren't so excited about it, Kaveh reports.
Why it matters: Without broad buy-in, what AI’s supporters hope for — better health care, safer cars — could be delayed, mired in a legitimacy crisis, or even result in a public revolt.
The data comes from a nationwide survey released Tuesday. It was carried out last June by a pair of social scientists — Yale's Baobao Zhang and Oxford's Allan Dafoe — and published by the Center for the Governance of AI.
"It's in the public interest to build AI well, but everyone has to be convinced," says Dafoe.
One place to start. Photo: Sean Gallup/Getty
When the luster wears off and the first wave of talent packs up, a once-dazzling tech startup looks for dependable, experienced new workers. It's the story of countless late-stage startups — not to mention a few less official outfits.
Axios' Joe Uchill writes: A recent job listing for a "goal-oriented" candidate with a "winning attitude" who is "used to objectives and achieving them" is not for a Bay Area tech firm but rather a cybercriminal collective called The Dark Overlord.
"If you saw that ad pop up on Indeed, you’d think it was an average tech company," said Rick Holland, chief information security officer and vice president of strategy at Digital Shadows.
Save for the higher figures (the job pays a starting salary of as much as 50,000 British pounds a month), the salary option would fit in any office park.
The bottom line: Holland says business has been down for The Dark Overlord. Deposits into the groups cryptocurrency accounts have dwindled; meanwhile, there has been turnover at the office.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
A robotic hand serves sushi in Japan. Photo: Yoshikazu Tsuno/AFP/Getty
Robots are getting incrementally sharper. Once gimmicky and clumsy, robo-vacuums are hoovering up hard-to-reach kitchen corners, and warehouse bots can move around massive amounts of merchandise.
Erica Pandey writes: Just this week, we have news of two more complex tasks: