GettyImages 1217491711
Artificial intelligence needs to be regulated to protect humans from manipulation.

AI could influence our decisions in a major way — and lead to dangerous outcomes, says technology researcher TaeWoo Kim.
According to his research with Adam Duhachek, AI messages were more persuasive when it showed people how to perform tasks.
People were also more likely to accept unfair offers from AI and disclose personal information, a sign that people are more vulnerable to manipulation than we think.
Kim believes governments need to take these behaviors into account and push for protective measures when regulating AI. 
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Have you ever used Google Assistant, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon Alexa to make decisions for you? Perhaps you asked it what new movies have good reviews, or to recommend a cool restaurant in your neighbourhood.

Artificial intelligence and virtual assistants are constantly being refined, and may soon be making appointments for you, offering medical advice, or trying to sell you a bottle of wine.

Although AI technology has miles to go to develop social skills on par with ours, some AI has shown impressive language understanding and can complete relatively complex interactive tasks.

In several 2018 demonstrations, Google’s AI made haircut and restaurant reservations without receptionists realising they were talking with a non-human.

Would you let Google Duplex make phone bookings for you?

It’s likely the AI capabilities developed by tech giants such as Amazon and Google will only grow more capable of influencing us in the future.

But what do we actually find persuasive?

My colleague Adam Duhachek and I found AI messages are more persuasive when they highlight “how” an action should be performed, rather than “why”. For example, people were more willing to put on sunscreen when an AI explained how to apply sunscreen before going out, rather than why they should use sunscreen.

We found people generally don’t believe a machine can understand human goals and desires. Take Google’s AlphaGo, an algorithm designed to play the board game Go. Few people would say the algorithm can understand why playing Go is fun, or why it’s meaningful to become a Go champion. Rather, it just follows a pre-programmed algorithm telling it how to move on the game board.

Our research suggests people find AI’s recommendations more persuasive in situations where AI shows easy steps on how to build personalized health insurance, how to avoid a lemon car, or how to choose the right tennis racket for you, rather than why any of these are important to do in a human sense.

Does AI have free will?

Most of us believe humans have free will. We compliment someone who helps others because we think they do it freely, and we penalize those who harm others. What’s more, we are willing to lessen the criminal penalty if the person was deprived of free will, for instance if they were in the grip of a schizophrenic delusion.

But do people think AI has free will? We did an experiment to find out.

Someone is given $100 and offers to split it with you. They’ll get $80 and you’ll get $20. If you reject this offer, both you and the proposer end up with nothing. Gaining $20 is better than nothing, but previous research suggests the $20 offer is likely to be rejected because we perceive it as unfair. Surely we should get $50, right?

But what if the proposer is an AI? In a research project yet to be published, my colleagues and I found the rejection ratio drops significantly. In other words, people are much more likely to accept this “unfair” offer if proposed by an AI.

This is because we don’t think an AI developed to serve humans has a malicious intent to exploit us — it’s just an algorithm, it doesn’t have free will, so we might as well just accept the $20.

The fact people could accept unfair offers from AI concerns me, because it might mean this phenomenon could be used maliciously. For example, a mortgage loan company might try to charge unfairly high interest rates by framing the decision as being calculated by an algorithm. Or a manufacturing company might manipulate workers into accepting unfair wages by saying it was a decision made by a computer.

To protect consumers, we need to understand when people are vulnerable to manipulation by AI. Governments should take this into account when considering regulation of AI.

We’re surprisingly willing to divulge to AI

In other work yet to be published, my colleagues and I found people tend to disclose their personal information and embarrassing experiences more willingly to an AI than a human.

We told participants to imagine they’re at the doctor for a urinary tract infection. We split the participants, so half spoke to a human doctor, and half to an AI doctor. We told them the doctor is going to ask a few questions to find the best treatment and it’s up to you how much personal information you provide.

Participants disclosed more personal information to the AI doctor than the human one, regarding potentially embarrassing questions about use of sex toys, condoms, or other sexual activities. We found this was because people don’t think AI judges our behavior, whereas humans do. Indeed, we asked participants how concerned they were for being negatively judged, and found the concern of being judged was the underlying mechanism determining how much they divulged.

It seems we feel less embarrassed when talking to AI. This is interesting because many people have grave concerns about AI and privacy, and yet we may be more willing to share our personal details with AI.

But what if AI does have free will?

We also studied the flipside: What happens when people start to believe AI does have free will? We found giving AI human-like features or a human name could mean people are more likely to believe an AI has free will.

This has several implications:

AI can then better persuade people on questions of “why”, because people think the human-like AI may be able to understand human goals and motivationsAI’s unfair offer is less likely to be accepted because the human-looking AI may be seen as having its own intentions, which could be exploitativePeople start feeling judged by the human-like AI and feel embarrassed, and disclose less personal informationPeople start feeling guilty when harming a human-looking AI, and so act more benignly to the AI.

We are likely to see more and different types of AI and robots in future. They might cook, serve, sell us cars, tend to us at the hospital, and even sit on a dining table as a dating partner. It’s important to understand how AI influences our decisions, so we can regulate AI to protect ourselves from possible harms.

TaeWoo Kim, lecturer, UTS Business School, University of Technology Sydney

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

The ConversationRead the original article on Business Insider

Original Source:

Ciara McLaren on a day trip to Biarritz, a seaside town on the southwest coast of France.
Ciara McLaren on a day trip to Biarritz, a seaside town on the southwest coast of France.

After graduating with her master’s degree, Ciara McLaren moved from Florida to a small town in western France to work part-time as an assistant English instructor at a public school.She was paid roughly half the French minimum wage and lived in a dormitory for young workers.McLaren says the beginning of her stay in France had many challenges, from overcoming the language barrier and experiencing culture shock to learning how to work well with teenagers.Still, after two years in the program, McLaren says she would do it again “in a heartbeat,” and encourages others interested in teaching English abroad to go for it with “eyes and mind wide open.”Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For the past two years, I’ve taught English for 12 hours a week in small, idyllic French cities. It’s a lot harder than it sounds. 

Before you start playing the world’s tiniest violin, hear me out: I was an assistante de langue, a classroom aide for English teachers at French public schools. As nice as it may seem to work part-time in the land of baguettes, champagne, and bimonthly vacations, teaching is tough. It’s even tougher in a culture that is not your own. 

The Teaching Assistant Program in France recruits Americans ages 20-35 to work part-time providing English instruction in French public schools for €785 per month, plus health insurance. I was fresh out of a rigorous graduate program and having conversations in English  for 12 hours a week seemed like a vacation in comparison — I applied, got in, and made plans to move to France. 

Lesson learned: Moving to a foreign country is not a vacation. 

By the time I applied to TAPIF, it had been three years since I’d spoken a word of my intermediate college French. I tried my best to prepare by watching every French movie on Netflix, but with the school year rapidly approaching, I could still barely string a sentence together.

Immediately upon arrival in Paris, it became clear that this would be a problem. It’s one thing to be an English-speaking tourist, and quite another to be an English-speaking resident. I did my best to express myself using an expansive English vocabulary, my best French accent, and elaborate hand gestures. The result of these attempts was usually tears: tears at the bank, tears at the train station, tears at the phone shop, etc. 

Once I had cried my way to a French phone number and rail card, I traveled south to the city where I was assigned: Niort. The small city has two main claims to fame: One, it contains the headquarters of several insurance companies, and two, the great writer Michel Houellebecq called it one of the “one of the ugliest cities” ever. (For what it’s worth, I actually thought Niort was quite charming.)

The view from the Donjon de Niort, a medieval castle in the downtown area of Niort. Ciara McLaren
The view from the Donjon de Niort, a medieval castle in the downtown area of Niort.

To make ends meet on my minimal salary (half the French minimum wage), I lived in a foyer des jeunes travailleurs, a dormitory for young workers. With CAF, a government housing supplement, I paid just over 50 euros a month in rent for a small room next to a shared toilet. Not exactly Versailles, mais bon. 

My first day on the job, the culture shock hit me before I walked through the door. 

Outside of the school gate, dozens upon dozens of teachers and students alike were chain-smoking cigarettes. 

The school where I would be working was a lycee professionnel, a vocational school, with students ages 15-18 (with some older and younger outliers).  It specializes in automobile repair and bodywork (which I knew nothing about), and the student body was made up of about 95% boys. 

This turned out not to be much of an issue. Most of my students, regardless of age, gender, or career path, asked me the same questions during class time. “Do you have a gun?” “Do you like Trump?” “Have you met XXXTentacion?” No, no, and no. 

I turned their questions back on them. Do you have a gun? Do you like France? Have you met Macron? Also no, no, and no. But it provoked a conversation, in English, which was really my only job. And I liked my job, most of the time.

ciara mclaren Good bread, jambon cru, and courgette salad from the local market of Pau, France.
Good bread, jambon cru, and courgette salad from the local market in Pau, France.

Speaking English with students was simple, but not easy. 

Teenagers are teenagers wherever you go, and discipline was a constant issue. I sent students to the principal’s office for everything from sexual harassment to physical fights. Despite my part-time hours, I always looked forward to school vacations. 

On a hike in the Pyrenees (don’t look too closely as the sheep). Ciara McLaren
On a hike in the Pyrenees (don't look too closely at the sheep).

Many weeks, I didn’t even work my full 12 hours. Shortly after I arrived, the gilets jaunes protests erupted across the country, and more manifestations against austerity and school reform followed throughout the year. Daily life was so disrupted that some days I couldn’t get to school, or would arrive to find the gate locked and nobody there. 

In those moments, I turned to my profs référents, the teachers assigned to look after me. They answered my questions, invited me to their homes, and included me in conversation in the break room. Sometimes, they’d forget to tell me there was a strike going on, but they were always very apologetic afterward. 

Fresh pastries from Le Pain Pascale in Pau, France. Ciara McLaren
Fresh pastries from Le Pain Pascale in Pau, France.

Looking back on my two years spent teaching English in France, I feel both privileged and exploited. 

On the one hand, I worked 12 hours or fewer a week, with frequent vacations, in one of the most beautiful countries on earth. On the other hand, the job combined two very difficult things: being a foreigner and working with teenagers. 

In testimonials on the TAPIF website, former assistants describe freedom, friendship, and growth. They don’t mention the long hours spent fighting with French bureaucracy to accomplish basically anything, from getting an apartment to validating your visa. They don’t mention how hard it is to control your temper when your students won’t stop asking you whether you prefer “French fry or French kiss.” In Facebook groups and local assistant meet-ups, we would commiserate over our difficulties and celebrate our triumphs. 

In quarantine in Pau, France, in March 2020. Ciara McLaren
In quarantine in Pau, France, March 2020.

Despite some challenging moments, I would do it over again in a heartbeat. Two years working part-time hours in France gave me the time and space I needed to become a freelance writer. My contract ended earlier this year, and after months of quarantine in France, I returned to the US in early July. (Despite everything, it’s home.)

On a balcony overlooking the Pyrenees, January 2020. Ciara McLaren
On a balcony overlooking the Pyrenees, in January 2020.

Still, I would tell anyone considering teaching English abroad to go for it — with eyes and mind wide open. 

Being an assistant de langue may seem like a dream job, but it’s really just like any job, with one big difference. Some days it’s great, other days it’s awful, but either way, you’re in France.

Ciara McLaren is a freelance writer with bylines in HuffPost, Gastronomica, and elsewhere. You can read more of her work on Substack. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Original Source:

Oregon Wildfire
An orange smoke-filled sky is seen above Estacada, Oregon, on September 9, 2020, as fires burn nearby.

The onslaught of wildfires in California serves as a wake up call for many Americans when it comes to climate change, with some people deciding to permanently leave the state.
More people could relocate in the coming years due to climate change, an investigation by ProPublica reveals.
Most climate-related moves and displacement happens within a country, but moving abroad is also a possibility.
Which country are expats happiest in, when it comes to the overall environment, as well as environmental policy? InterNations, a resource website for expats, interviewed some 15,000 people who left their country of birth to find out.
The top countries are Finland, Sweden, and Norway.
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The massive wildfires tearing through the Pacific Northwest — and the resulting air pollution that is so thick it’s spread across the entire US — is a climate change wakeup call for millions of Americans. 

For some Californians, the wildfires are enough for them to exit the state. It’s a glimpse of what economists, scientists, and insurance professionals alike say could be in our future: climate change migration, according to an investigation by ProPublica

While the United Nations says most climate-related displacement is within a country’s borders, some, especially the affluent, may consider moving to another country for bluer skies and cleaner air. 

InterNations, a resource website for expats, surveyed some 15,000 people who chose to leave their country of birth. Analysts asked them to rate their new home country on a variety of environmental factors, including their perception of the air quality, how strongly they think the government is tackling climate change, and rating local recycling and waste management efforts. Each factor was weighted and then countries were given an overall ranking. 

The US ranked 30th out of the 60 countries where people were surveyed, coming just behind Bahrain and before Panama. The low ranking was mainly because expats think the federal government does not care enough about climate change. 

These are the top 10 most eco-conscious countries, according to expats.

10. Luxembourg

An American living in Luxembourg said the "access to nature for hiking and bicycling" was a big benefit of living there.

View the overall natural environment positively: 92%

Are happy with the air quality: 78% 

9. Canada

takakkaw falls
A Russian expat mentioned the "clean water and air" as some of her favorite things about Canada.

View the overall natural environment positively: 96% 

Think the Canadian population is interested in environmental issues: 71% 

8. Germany

Germany lockdown
Some 90% of expats rated the water and sanitation in the country positively.

View the overall natural environment positively: 90%

Are happy with the availability of environmentally friendly goods and services: 86%

7. New Zealand

new zealand
Some 79% of expats agree the population is very interested in environmental issues, vs. 48% globally.

View the overall natural environment positively: 96%

Agree the government takes climate change seriously: 85%

6. Denmark

Odense, Denmark - Drone Aerial - April 2020
A South African expat said that "the Danish are environmentally conscious. Organic food and products are easily available, and they are good with recycling."

View the overall natural environment positively: 87%

Are happy with the quality of country’s water and sanitation services: 93% 

5. Switzerland

switzerland lockdown quarantine yoga
Respondents mentioned the beautiful parks that pepper major cities as a huge plus.

View the country’s natural environment positively: 83%

Are happy with the air quality: 91% 

4. Austria

austria coronavirus
A Philippine expat said that the country is "the most organized, the most environmentally friendly, and the most beautiful country" he has lived in so far.

View the country’s natural environment positively: 97%

Are happy with the country’s waste management and recycling efforts: 91% 

3. Norway

norway best country to be a kid
A Ukrainian expat said that "the beautiful nature, the clean air and tap water, and the focus on the environment" are what she enjoys most about life in Norway.

View the overall natural environment positively: 93%

Agree the government takes climate change seriously: 89% 

2. Sweden

Sweden reopening
Some 93% of expats rate the availability of clean energy and the ability to save energy positively.

View the overall natural environment positively: 95%

Are happy with the availability of environmentally friendly goods and services: 88%

1. Finland

Finland came in 1st place for a variety of factors, including its air quality, waste management, and the government's perceived commitment to the environment.

View the overall natural environment positively: 98%

Are happy with the air quality: 95%

Read the original article on Business Insider

Original Source:

Kansas 4x3
Stacie Sulzen.

The Unemployed States of America takes readers deep inside the decimated American workforce.
Stacie Sulzen is a 51-year-old bartender based in Kansas City, Kansas.
Her bar closed at midnight on March 16, and she hasn’t been back since.
It took her about three months to start getting unemployment, and she didn’t have any money left by the time it arrived.
This is her story, as told to Jill Dutton. 
Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

I’d worked as a bartender for 27 years when the shutdown of the bars went into effect in Kansas. I was working at Reich’s Club, a small dive bar in Kansas City, Kansas, when the owner told me on March 16 to close the doors at midnight. 

I haven’t been back since.

It was such an uncertain time. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I didn’t really think it would last. I figured a week or two and things would start going back to normal. The day after closing, I went out and bought a bunch of cans of soup and TV dinners.

The bar was sold during the shutdown period and the new owner, not knowing how long it would last, began gutting the bar to make renovations. At first, when I heard the previous owner washed his hands of it, I wondered if I’d have a job to go back to at all. The new owner does plan to bring us back, but it’s not ready to open yet.

In 27 years as a bartender, I’ve never taken a day off that I was scheduled to work. I would even cover other people’s shifts, often working double shifts. I just worked all the time. So at first, it was kind of neat to have some time off. You don’t get vacation days when you’re a bartender. There’s no insurance, no 401(k) — you live on tips and that’s how you live.

The first couple weeks, it was nice to sleep in and know that no one was going to call me into work. Then it got to the point where I was ready for the vacation to be over and get back to work. Food was running out; money was running out. It took about three months to start getting unemployment. 

Luckily, I have friends and family that helped me out. For my bills, when they would call, I would tell them that as soon as I had some money, I would send it their way. I was lucky that I never got any threats of the electricity being shut off, and my landlord was very kind and never said a word about my rent being late. I was very fortunate because I knew a lot of people who didn’t have understanding landlords.

By the time I received my first unemployment check, I didn’t have any money left.

I paid my electric bill and gave the rest of that first check to my landlord, except for a small bit I kept for myself. I did that again with the next few checks. So for the first month of getting unemployment I was still broke, because I was trying to catch up from three months of arrears.

The Kansas unemployment site was screwy, too. Even once I was getting checks, the site would go down and I couldn’t file a claim. Or I would file a claim and get an error message. It was a mess. It took me probably a month to get through by phone to the unemployment office just so I could get the errors fixed regarding the back pay I was owed. For those three months of unemployment in the beginning, I was owed five weeks of back pay. Finally, last week, I received the back pay.

I used the money to pay off all my bills. I actually paid ahead because I don’t know how long this will continue. My eligibility for unemployment has now run out. I filed for an extension a couple weeks ago, but again, haven’t heard anything yet.

When I was younger, I did some factory work. It seems like everyone I know who works in a factory hasn’t missed a beat because they’re considered essential workers. So I was thinking about doing that. I mean, there have been threats of them shutting the bars down again, so bartending or serving doesn’t look too promising going forward.

I have a job waiting for me when the remodeling at the bar is finished, but I can’t go to work until then. And even then, only half-capacity is allowed, so there isn’t much opportunity for tips.

I’m thinking factory work will be where I need to go.

I’ve been happy bartending — especially the socialization that comes with the job — so I know I’ll miss that if I have to take a factory job. Really, I worry that I won’t be able to find any job. What if everyone else decides to do the same thing as me and go into factory work? There might not be a job to go to. 

I’m glad I was able to prepay my bills for a few months, but after that, the future looks uncertain.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Original Source: