by Yana A. St. Clair, Esq.
AI will soon be all around us, so we need to get accustomed to its ways…
Hello again, as we continue our discussion on one of the hottest topics around the world in recent times, artificial intelligence. AI, if we want to humanize it, is no doubt the trendiest “It” guy, gal or more appropriately, gender neutral “individual” of today. But it didn’t take long for everyone’s favorite new play pal, research assistant or whatever else you choose to use the different forms of AI for these days, to get into hot water.
A recent story which immediately went viral, has infuriated many, amused some, but also undoubtedly, put into question AI’s reliability in yet another area of use. The controversy stems from the use of the online AI image generator, Playground AI, which is a free to use online based app, where you can generate art, posters, presentations and all sorts of images with the help of artificial intelligence. This is precisely what MIT graduate student Rona Wang attempted to do.
Ms. Wang is a 24-year-old Asian American student of math and computer science, who was experimenting with the AI image generator in an attempt to spruce up her LinkedIn profile. She uploaded a photo of herself wearing an MIT sweatshirt into the image generator with the prompt “Give the girl from the original photo a professional LinkedIn profile photo.” To her surprise, what AI decided to do, was change her race. The “professional” photo which Playground AI generated, was of a Caucasian girl, with lighter skin than Ms. Wang’s, and blue eyes, instead of her natural brown. While Ms. Wang stated that she found the results amusing, the widespread internet response which her tweets of the occurrence spurred, has been quite different. And perhaps not surprisingly so.
Naturally it didn’t take long for many to conclude that AI is racist, or at least biased. But since AI isn’t really a person, essentially this means that it perpetuates the racists and biased views of its creators? According to BusinessInsider, new research suggests that AI image generators reflect racial and gender bias in their outputs. For example, AI tool DALL-E 2, appears to generate white men 97% of the time when asked to produce an image of a CEO or director. Well then… Further, according to Insider, “researchers say biased outputs can perpetuate racial stereotypes and hurt marginalized communities.”
Obviously people are up in arms about these prospects and in the today’s ever growing “woke” environment, it seems natural to want to find someone to blame. The problem is that, again, AI isn’t really a person. So, who do we blame? Its’ creators? Well, that’s a lot of people, are we going to hold every programmer accountable? We can’t really fault the CEO’s of every AI firm or app, because they’re not the ones creating content, or “training” AI. I suppose we could hold sensitivity training on diversity, inclusion etc, at all levels where AI is created and generated, but another issue comes into play which is really outside any sphere of control: In many instances AI teaches itself. It learns and improves by searching what’s available on the web and enhances itself from all available sources. That perhaps makes it more human. We could limit its ability to do so, but then it would only reflect the views of its creators.
So, what do we do? Well, if we continue to follow what extreme “cancel culture” seems to be dictating as of late, and we could just “cancel” AI before it becomes too inappropriate. What a concept! Could everyone’s new favorite virtual pal become extinct before it gets a chance to truly blossom and take the world by storm? And if so, wouldn’t it be wild if society puts an end to artificial intelligence not because we’re afraid it will kill us all, “Terminator” style, but because we don’t like its non-politically correct views…
Disclosure: Please note that none of the information contained within the above column is to be considered legal advice.
Yana is an American attorney licensed to practice in all State and Federal courts of California. Yana holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science specializing in International Relations from UCLA, the Degree of Juris Doctor from Loyola Law School, and a Master of Business Administration Degree from Ashford University. Since the beginning of her undergraduate studies, Yana has been involved in various aspects of the field of Electrical Engineering, where she employs her business and legal knowledge to consulting and advising businesses and individuals on relevant topics of concern. Yana also serves as Editor for PACWorld magazine, having been with the publication since its inception. As an attorney, Yana specializes in criminal defense, where she devotes her talents and expertise to fighting for her clients’ rights and freedom.