The machines, with the algorithms that make them work, began to understand simple English sentences in the 1960s. Later they learned to translate more complex texts into hundreds of languages, filter our emails and recognize handwritten text. And today they are already capable of beating us in games of strategy and logic, understanding what we say and acting accordingly, assisting doctors and beating the best chess or Go players.
A bot is a computer program that imitates human behavior, and a chatbot is the bot that simulates a conversation with a person. The first can be said to have existed for 50 years. And the second, chatbots, are springing up everywhere. In the press, these algorithms are called Artificial Intelligence. I prefer to call them computer algorithms, because they have a lot of computing in addition to specific Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms, which is a part of computing.
The most advanced programs are able to understand human speech and maintain a logical and pseudo-intelligent conversation, and also in several languages, which is also allowing great advances in machine translation and allows the instant translator to glimpse on the horizon. The capabilities of the ChatGPT tool is a good sample of what we say.
But achieving this automatic understanding of the information is not easy because the computer program not only has to read or listen to the information, but also relate and interpret it in order to understand it and be able to act or respond accordingly. If during a conversation someone says Seville, the computer algorithm must be able to distinguish whether they are referring to the city or the football club, and for this it not only needs to be able to process the language, but also to have been provided with a lot of information, definitions of concepts and Basic knowledge to be able to reason and extract the solution from the context, as a person would.
Computer machines and algorithms are the future and in many cases already the present, and their advances arouse surprise, fear and, usually, concern. Undoubtedly, the main fear with computer algorithms and their advances is their hypothetical ability to make decisions that play against human beings. The reality is that, unlike the stories that some movies tell us, the machines, the algorithms, are not aware of their own existence, they do not have their own goals and feelings. This is centuries away from our current technological capabilities.
But do algorithms need an ethical guide? Unesco has taken the initiative. Its 193 members have adopted this week a list of recommendations that it wants to be an ethical guide, the first in the world. This guide can be consulted here.
One recommendation, number 26, is exhaustive: “AI systems should not be used for social rating or mass surveillance purposes.” Another of the councils, 36, stipulates that “an AI system can never replace the final responsibility of human beings and the obligation to render accounts.” “As a general rule – the text adds – life and death decisions should not be handed over to artificial intelligence systems”.
But the debate is deeper
Could there be a political party run by a computer algorithm and whose leader is a chatbot? It may sound like science fiction or the plot of a dystopian series, but it is a real fact; that party already exists, and is part of the electoral campaign in Denmark. Is called Synthetic Partyand is led by Leader Lars, a chatbot that any citizen can talk to.
The promoters of Synthetic Party they aspire to stand in the next electoral contests in Denmark. For this they ask that the law be changed so that an algorithm can be presented as a candidate in the elections. What they ask is not a group of people advised by the algorithm to present themselves. They want the computer algorithm to run for election and make the pertinent political decisions based on the interaction it has had with the voters.
But what is your ideology? Progressive? Conservative? “The party is synthetic, which literally means that it homogenises what seems contradictory or disparate,” explains Asker Bryld Staunaes, a member of the Computer Lars artist group and MindFuture technology center and main creator and promoter of the Synthetic Party.
There are other similar movements in the rest of the world. They call him virtual politicians. Information about these movements and related articles can be found on Wikipedia.
But the question is: Do we want a computer algorithm to run in the elections? My answer is no. No, for various reasons. The first is that politics is a basic human endeavor. It is the activity we use to make global decisions. Politics is inherently conflictive to the extent that there are conflicting interests in society and, therefore, we are deceived when they advocate a synthetic, neutral policy, above interest.
In line with Unesco’s recommendations, I think there always has to be a person who is responsible for the recommendations made by an algorithm, especially in the field of politics. In the same way, I think we should ask for a person to take responsibility for every decision that an algorithm can make, but not hide behind it. Whether it is when applying for a mortgage, prioritizing in a hospital, etc.
I claim the importance of politics, political participation and the need for politicians. To defend that a computer algorithm makes the decisions is to think that neutrality is possible and that politicians should disappear. It is an anti-political movement that, if we think about it in detail, prefers to keep things as they are.
Miguel Toro He is a professor of Computer Languages and Systems at the University of Seville.
Chronicles of the Intangible is a space for the dissemination of computer science, coordinated by the academic society SISTEDES (Sociedad de Ingenieria de Software y de Tecnologias de Desarrollo de Software). The intangible is the non-material part of the computer systems (that is, the software), and its history and evolution are related here. The authors are professors from Spanish universities, coordinated by Ricardo Pena Mari (professor at the Complutense University of Madrid) and Macario Polo Usaola (tenured professor at the University of Castilla-La Mancha).
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Source: EL PAIS