September 19, 2021

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If you don’t trust AI yet, you’re not wrong.

Frank Pasquale and Gianclaudio Malgieri, *The New York Times* (online on 30
Jul 2021, and in print on the opinion page, 2 Aug 2021)

  [Thanks to Prashanth Mundkur for spotting this one on Friday, when I first
  read it.  It was not in print in the National Edition until Monday's paper
 —with some nifty art work.  I PGN-excerpted it on Saturday, and added
  the final paragraph after re-reading the article in print on Monday.  PGN]

Americans have good reason to be skeptical of artificial intelligence. Tesla
crashes have dented the dream of self-driving cars. Mysterious algorithms
predict job applicants' performance based on little more than video
interviews. Similar technologies may soon be headed to the classroom, as
administrators use “learning analytics platforms” to scrutinize students'
written work and emotional states. Financial technology companies are using
social media and other sensitive data to set interest rates and repayment

Even in areas where AI seems to be an unqualified good, like machine
learning to better spot melanoma, researchers are worried that current data
sets do not adequately represent all patients’ racial backgrounds.  [...]

In April, the European Union released a new proposal for a systematic
regulation of artificial intelligence. If enacted, it will change the terms
of the debate by forbidding some forms of AI, regardless of their ostensible
benefits. Some forms of manipulative advertising will be banned, as will
real-time indiscriminate facial recognition by public authorities for law
enforcement purposes.

The list of prohibited AI uses is not comprehensive enough—for example,
many forms of nonconsensual AI-driven emotion recognition, mental health
diagnoses, ethnicity attribution and lie detection should also be
banned. But the broader principle—that some uses of technology are simply
too harmful to be permitted—should drive global debates on AI regulation.

The European Union is now laying the intellectual foundations for such
protections, in a wide spectrum of areas where advanced computation is now
(or will be) deployed to make life-or-death decisions about the allocation
of public-assistance services, the targets of policing, and the cost of
credit.  While its regulation will never be adopted by the United States,
there is much ot learn from its comprehensive approach.