The Impact of Advanced AI Technology on Society
The advancements in artificial intelligence systems have brought about a wave of disruptive technologies that are changing the way we live, work, and play. These technologies have the potential to uplift marginalized populations, but it is important for academics, practitioners, innovators, and entrepreneurs to pursue pathways that ensure the benefits are distributed fairly. To make this happen, it is crucial to have proper professional training that focuses on the social impacts of new technologies.
The emerging field of public interest technology aims to shift the focus from the technologies themselves to the individuals who design, implement, and evaluate them. At MIT, students, faculty, and staff are launching a conversation to address the ethical and moral dilemmas that arise in the face of ever-changing societal needs and norms.
A new online publication called The Public Interest Technologist (TPIT) has been created to bring together the MIT community and encourage discussions on the social responsibilities of technologists. The editorial team behind TPIT believes that responsible technology development can lead to positive outcomes, both with old and new technologies.
Lawrence Susskind, a member of TPIT’s editorial team, emphasizes the need for concerted action to minimize harmful effects and ensure that the benefits of technological innovation reach those who need them the most. TPIT aims to be a platform that moves in this direction.
The Impact of Technology on Public Transit
One example of technology’s recent impact on society is the Covid-19 pandemic, which has drastically changed how we work and commute. Public transit agencies have faced challenges in adapting to this new reality. In an interview with two experts from MIT’s Transit Lab, they propose modernizing and optimizing transit to address labor workforce shortages. Defining the public interest in this context involves involving the public in answering important questions. The experts highlight the importance of technological training that includes education on the public interest.
Fostering Conversations and Collaboration
TPIT’s editorial team at MIT aims to spark a discussion among public interest technologists about their social responsibilities. They question whether those who create or implement new technologies should take responsibility for their impacts. They also explore who should decide what these responsibilities are and whether norms need to be enforced.
In collaboration with other universities, MIT is part of a coalition focused on public interest technology (PIT). This coalition supports the sharing of ideas and organizes events that prioritize research questions related to PIT. The involvement with the PIT-UN network led to the creation of TPIT.
TPIT’s editorial team seeks input from the MIT community on shaping its content. They welcome nominations for prospective interviewees, article suggestions, and previously published materials that contribute to the discussion on public interest technology. Community members are also invited to attend the annual PIT-UN meeting at Boston University in the fall.