Will AI mean the end of personal responsibility?

AI, once the stuff of science fiction and experimental research, is increasingly making its mark upon the consumer world, from intelligent software to virtual assistants and even in our faithful smartphones. As we trust more and more important tasks to AI, are we in danger letting go of the idea of personal responsibility?

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Can Facebook clean up its act?

The social media giant has assembled a team of experts to spot abuses and protect the company’s reputation. But what do security experts think?

Technology companies like to talk about the huge benign changes their products will bring about. Take Facebook, with its mission to “give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together”. Or Google, which wants to “organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Microsoft hopes to “empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more”. Even Snapchat, which opens its corporate bio with the humble claim that “Snap Inc is a camera company”, can’t help but note: “We contribute to human progress by empowering people to express themselves, live in the moment, learn about the world, and have fun together.”

Such statements demonstrate the scale of ambition that is the norm among technology’s largest companies. It is rare, however, to find much time or effort dedicated to the unplanned consequences of world-beating new technologies.

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How to fix Big Tech? We need the right language to describe it, first | Marc DaCosta

The ground on which politics happens has changed – yet our political language has not kept up

A Russian-fed misinformation campaign across Facebook and Twitter, plus powerful data-targeting techniques pioneered by the Obama campaign, helped propel Donald Trump into the White House.

Big tech’s political fortunes have dimmed accordingly; it is at risk of joining big tobacco, big pharma, and big oil as a bona fide corporate pariah.

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‘I was shocked it was so easy’: ​meet the professor who says facial recognition ​​can tell if you’re gay

Psychologist Michal Kosinski says artificial intelligence can detect your sexuality and politics just by looking at your face. What if he’s right?

Vladimir Putin was not in attendance, but his loyal lieutenants were. On 14 July last year, the Russian prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev, and several members of his cabinet convened in an office building on the outskirts of Moscow. On to the stage stepped a boyish-looking psychologist, Michal Kosinski, who had been flown from the city centre by helicopter to share his research. “There was Lavrov, in the first row,” he recalls several months later, referring to Russia’s foreign minister. “You know, a guy who starts wars and takes over countries.” Kosinski, a 36-year-old assistant professor of organisational behaviour at Stanford University, was flattered that the Russian cabinet would gather to listen to him talk. “Those guys strike me as one of the most competent and well-informed groups,” he tells me. “They did their homework. They read my stuff.”

Kosinski’s “stuff” includes groundbreaking research into technology, mass persuasion and artificial intelligence (AI) – research that inspired the creation of the political consultancy Cambridge Analytica. Five years ago, while a graduate student at Cambridge University, he showed how even benign activity on Facebook could reveal personality traits – a discovery that was later exploited by the data-analytics firm that helped put Donald Trump in the White House.

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