Social Good & AI

“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the bulk of mankind, happiness is better. ”
-George Orwell, English novelist of Animal Farm and 1984

A friend and colleague and I had a spirited debate about the present advantages and concerns about AI in general. The discussion was particularly focused on China’s Social Credit System, which is an AI-enabled surveillance system (with close to 500 million cameras) that leverages facial recognition and big data analytics to monitor every citizen’s social behavior, good and suboptimal (the latter including failure to pay taxes, jaywalking, and spreading false information).

Yes, for some if not most Americans and Westerners, this AI-centric regime of reward and punishment (including not being able to purchase plane tickets) is rather repressive if not Orwellian (with “Big Brother” and “Thought Police”). This system is accepted by most Chinese, who respect the American freedom of speech but perhaps not its utter freedom.

The Chinese could easily cite major social problems that exist in the U.S, especially our violence in our schools (more school children were killed in schools last year than policemen on duty). Perhaps we should find and plan for a happy medium: applications of AI for improving our well being (including healthcare) without the creation of a Minority Report-esque police state.

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