The Ghost in the Machine: Being Human in the Age of AI and Machine Learning
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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Original versionHuman Arenas. 2018, 1-19 https://doi.org/10.1007/s42087-018-0039-1
Human beings have used technology to improve their efficiency throughout history. We continue to do so today, but we are no longer only using technology to perform physical tasks. Today, we make computers that are smart enough to challenge, and even surpass, us in many areas. Artificial intelligence—embodied or not—now drive our cars, trade stocks, socialise with our children, keep the elderly company and the lonely warm. At the same time, we use technology to gather vast amounts of data on ourselves. This, in turn, we use to train intelligent computers that ease and customise ever more of our lives. The change that occurs in our relations to other people, and computers, change both how we act and how we are. What sort of challenges does this development pose for human beings? I argue that we are seeing an emerging challenge to the concept of what it means to be human, as (a) we struggle to define what makes us special and try to come to terms with being surpassed in various ways by computers, and (b) the way we use and interact with technology changes us in ways we do not yet fully understand.