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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. 
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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.

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Dairy Farming in KenyaDairy farming is a competitive business worldwide. Small and large scale dairy farmers alike face similar obstacles—slim margins, a fragile product and a decreasing market. Kenya produces 5 billion liters of milk every year and the dairy industry accounts for 5%-8% of the country’s total GDP. This large proportion of GDP means that innovations in dairy farming offer significant potential to improve the livelihoods of thousands. In light of this economic fact, new industry actors are emerging to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

EASYMA 6.0

Finding reliable buyers is a difficult task. In many cases, Kenyan dairy farmers are forced to sell to local traders that pay unfair prices. When the digital scale and supply chain system EASYMA 6.0 was introduced in 2014, however, conditions for dairy producers improved. In collaboration with USAID-funded programs, Kenyan tech agencies developed and deployed EASYMA 6.0 into local communities.

The process of EASYMA 6.0 starts with farmers weighing their milk at designated buyer collection centers. Producers then get an automated receipt as well as an immediate advance. This system ensures that farmers receive fair compensation for the quantity of product they supply. Ultimately, this innovation makes it easier for farmers to earn a fair living wage.

In addition to providing security in payments, EASYMA 6.0 also enhances transparency and record-keeping within the dairy industry. As a result, more than 22,000 Kenyan dairy farmers now have access to farm extension services, financial products and even livestock insurance through EASYMA 6.0.

Mazzi Milk Jug

Although a seemingly small and simple issue, spoiling milk can lead to large losses for dairy farmers in Kenya. Spoiled milk can lead to huge losses, negating much of the hard work performed by farmers. Without viable ways to fix the issue, farmers will continue to lose a valuable part of their product—and, thus, their incomes—every year.

In developing countries, safely delivering milk and dairy products is the hardest challenge farmers face. Small-scale farmers produce 80% of the milk in Kenya. Due to small-scale farmers’ insufficient access to quality storage and refrigeration, a significant amount of milk is spoiled during delivery. This struggle prompted the development of Mazzi, a durable and inexpensive jug that prevents spills and slows curdling.

Traditional jugs, or jerry cans, leave dairy products vulnerable to contaminants that cause spoilage. Additionally, traditional jugs are also fragile and very hard to clean. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation worked with Global Good and Heifer International to find one key solution to this issue: Mazzi.

Mazzi is a 10-liter reusable plastic container that prevents spills, limits contamination and is easy to clean. Mazzi has a wide mouth that allows farmers to use two hands during the milking process, ultimately increasing productivity. The invention also has a detachable black funnel that enables farmers to determine whether cows have udder infections, as well as a stackable lid that helps with transport and makes the product easy to clean.

The Mazzi jug will only cost $5, compared to competitors priced around $30. By increasing incomes through improved yields, this inexpensive innovation is transforming dairy farming in Kenya and improving the lives of farmers in the process.

MyFugo

Many farmers rely on the dairy industry to make a living, yet Kenya has not adopted technology to improve yield. MyFugo is a software application that is projected to increase milk production in Kenya by helping farmers monitor their cows in real-time. Allan Tollo, the app’s founder, explains that “the app helps the farmer monitor his cows throughout the day enabling them to tell what time their cow will be on heat for it to be served at the right time.”

The MyFugo technology operates by using a Smart Cow Collar. Farmers place the device on their cows and receive notifications on their smart devices of the exact time their cow is in heat. Farmers can increase milk production by reducing the calving period by more than six months. This innovation eliminates prevents farmers from missing cow fertility dates, decreases calving intervals and lowers feeding and treatment costs.

The app is free to use, but the collar costs $150. Although expensive upfront, animals will produce more calves in their lifetime leading to higher milk production, increased revenues and greater economic stability for dairy farmers in the long-term.

MyFugo has registered 8,000 farmers already and is constantly working to grow its user base. The app can track animals at any location, as well as identify their risk of disease. Farmers also gain easier access to veterinary doctors and loans. With many small farms traditionally lacking access to veterinary care and financial loans, this innovation offers the potential to transform dairy farming in Kenya.

Broad Impact

Many farmers are reluctant to embrace new technologies that challenge traditional farming techniques. However, these innovations are steadily transforming dairy farming in Kenya and creating unparalleled opportunities for farmers to earn a successful living. With new technology and easy access to records, dairy farming in Kenya is traveling a new road toward lasting progress. The successful integration of technology in Kenya’s dairy farming industry demonstrates the potential of future innovation in the agricultural industry at large.

– Sienna Bahr
Photo: Flickr

The post Innovations Transforming Dairy Farming in Kenya appeared first on The Borgen Project.

Original Source: borgenproject.org

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