One of the most powerful narratives of modern times is the story of scientific and technological progress. While our future will undoubtedly be shaped by the use of existing and emerging technologies – in particular, of autonomous and intelligent systems (A/IS) – there is no guarantee that progress defined by “the next” is beneficial. Growth for humanity’s future should not be defined by reductionist ideas of speed or size alone but as the holistic evolution of our species in positive alignment with the environmental and other systems comprising the modern algorithmic world.
We believe all systems must be responsibly created to best utilize science and technology for tangible social and ethical progress. Individuals, businesses and communities involved in the development and deployment of autonomous and intelligent technologies should mitigate predictable risks at the inception and design phase and not as an afterthought. This will help ensure these systems are created in such a way that their outcomes are beneficial to society, culture and the environment.
Autonomous and intelligent technologies also need to be created via participatory design, where systems thinking can help us avoid repeating past failures stemming from attempts to control and govern the complex-adaptive systems we are part of. Responsible living with or in the systems we are part of requires an awareness of the constrictive paradigms we operate in today. Our future practices will be shaped by our individual and collective imaginations and by the stories we tell about who we are and what we desire, for ourselves and the societies in which we live.
These stories must move beyond the “us versus them” media mentality pitting humans against machines. Autonomous and intelligent technologies have the potential to enhance our personal and social skills; they are much more fully integrated and less discrete than the term “artificial intelligence” implies. And while this process may enlarge our cognitive intelligence or make certain individuals or groups more powerful, it does not necessarily make our systems more stable or socially beneficial.