How the myth of control is shaping the ethics of AI
By Emmanuel R. Goffi  |  Jul 29, 2022
How the myth of control is shaping the ethics of AI
Image courtesy of and under license from Shutterstock.com
AI is not a means to control nature, which cannot be mastered, any more than AI itself can. Thus, the only control humans have is over us, to protect us from our own hubris, asserts Emmanuel R. Goffi, co-founder and co-director of the Global AI Ethics Institute.

PARIS - The idea of human control over technology is pervading almost all principles and guidelines pertaining to ethics applied to AI. Building on the idea that humans must remain in control of technological tools, most guidelines pertaining to artificial intelligence (AI) are calling for such control trying to keep humans on/in/out of the loop.

Yet, looking at the situation closely it seems that keeping control over AI is all but obvious, and that in some cases control has even been lost.

Hence the question: Why do we still pretend that we have, or must keep control over AI, while it is clear that we are in fact losing it?


Tech as a tool to control the environment

To understand the ideas that underlie this belief in control, one must move back to the concept of technê (art or craft) developed in Aristotle’s taxonomy of knowledge, and which refers to the art that consists in implementing processes aiming at producing tools that imitate or complete nature. Technê is thus a means to an end, namely, to control our environment to make it less hostile and increase our wellbeing. To that end art “partly completes what nature cannot bring to a finish, and partly imitates her,” as Aristotle put it in his Physics.

Technê is at the root of the modern word “technics” and its derivative “technology” which refers to the discourse on technics. As one can see, the origin of the word implicitly conveys the idea of progress, i.e., technology is beneficial for it allows us to control our environment and, consequently, to increase our satisfaction.

Technics have for centuries been associated with progress allowing us to make our environment less hostile, our existences easier, pushing the limits of life back further, abolishing suffering, nay death itself.

In other words, control offers us the promise of natur

The content herein is subject to copyright by The Yuan. All rights reserved. The content of the services is owned or licensed to The Yuan. The copying or storing of any content for anything other than personal use is expressly prohibited without prior written permission from The Yuan, or the copyright holder identified in the copyright notice contained in the content.
Continue reading
Sign up now to read this story for free.
- or -
Continue with Linkedin Continue with Google
Comments
Share your thoughts.
The Yuan wants to hear your voice. We welcome your on-topic commentary, critique, and expertise. All comments are moderated for civility.