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Story about AI dystopia uses rideshare surge pricing as an example of immoral behavior

107 Views 0 Replies 1 Participant Last post by  JeanOcelot0
Moral considerations never enter these models. Algorithms, like all dumb AI, are only able to play by the rules we write and strive for the goals we set. If a corporation uses algorithms to increase profits, they will do just that — no matter the cost.
This is dangerous for two reasons. For one, it means giving immense power to undemocratic, unintelligent, and truly amoral machines. For another, it absolves individual humans of having to face moral choices. A rideshare company’s pricing algorithm can determine, rightly or wrongly, that a surge in requests for rides is an opportunity for profit, and increase the cost as a result. Done without direct human oversight, this allows companies like Uber to extract as much profit as possible from, say, a concert which has recently ended and generated a large pool of demand in one area. No person is asked to justify the increases, and if they were, they could just point to the math and shrug.
After a group of knife-wielding terrorists drove into crowds on London Bridge, Uber’s algorithm noticed an opportunity. Hundreds of requests came surging in for rides away from the danger and its aftermath, and the algorithm dutifully increased rates as a result. What had been an annoyance in one situation (likely the situation Uber’s developers had considered when programming this AI) became a robbery in another — your money or your life.
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