Could AI Drive Transformative Social Progress? What Would This Require?

16 Pages Posted: 29 Oct 2019 Last revised: 10 Dec 2019

See all articles by Edward (Ted) A. Parson

Edward (Ted) A. Parson

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law

Robert Lempert

RAND Corporation - Santa Monica CA Offices; Rand Graduate School

Ben Armstrong

University of Waterloo

Evan Crothers

University of Ottawa

Chad DeChant

Columbia University - Department of Computer Science

Nicholas Novelli

University of Edinburgh

Date Written: October 27, 2019

Abstract

In contrast to popular dystopian speculation about the societal impacts of widespread AI deployment, we consider AI’s potential to drive a social transformation toward greater human liberty, agency, and equality. The impact of AI, like all technology, will depend on both properties of the technology and the economic, social, and political conditions of its deployment and use. We identify conditions of each type – technical characteristics and socio-political context – likely to be conducive to such large-scale beneficial impacts. Promising technical characteristics include decision-making structures that are tentative and pluralistic, rather than optimizing a single-valued objective function under a single characterization of world conditions; and configuring the decision-making of AI-enabled products and services exclusively to advance the interests of their users, subject to relevant social values, not those of their developers or vendors. We explore various strategies and business models for developing and deploying AI-enabled products that incorporate these characteristics, including philanthropic seed capital, crowd-sourcing, open-source development, and sketch various possible ways to scale deployment thereafter.

Keywords: Artificial Intelligence, AI for good, Technology assessment, regulation, robust decision-making, levelers

Suggested Citation

Parson, Edward (Ted) A. and Lempert, Robert and Armstrong, Ben and Crothers, Evan and DeChant, Chad and Novelli, Nicholas, Could AI Drive Transformative Social Progress? What Would This Require? (October 27, 2019). UCLA School of Law, Public Law Research Paper No. 19-49. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3476404 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3476404

Edward (Ted) A. Parson (Contact Author)

University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) - School of Law ( email )

385 Charles E. Young Dr. East
Room 1242
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1476
United States

Robert Lempert

RAND Corporation - Santa Monica CA Offices ( email )

P.O. Box 2138
1776 Main Street
Santa Monica, CA 90407-2138
United States

Rand Graduate School

Santa Monica, CA 90407
United States

Ben Armstrong

University of Waterloo ( email )

Waterloo, Ontario N2L 3G1
Canada

Evan Crothers

University of Ottawa ( email )

2292 Edwin Crescent
Ottawa, Ontario K2C 1H7
Canada

Chad DeChant

Columbia University - Department of Computer Science ( email )

New York, NY 10027
United States

Nicholas Novelli

University of Edinburgh ( email )

Old College
South Bridge
Edinburgh, Scotland EH8 9JY
United Kingdom

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