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AI Causes Real Harm. Let’s Focus on That over the End-of-Humanity Hype

Scientific American Opinion: Effective regulation of AI needs grounded science that investigates real harms, not glorified press releases about existential risk. Wrongful arrests, an expanding surveillance dragnet, defamation and deep-fake pornography are all actually existing dangers of so-called “artificial intelligence” tools currently on the market. That, and not the imagined potential to wipe out humanity, is the real threat from artificial intelligence. Beneath the hype from many AI firms, their technology already enables routine discrimination in housing, criminal justice and health care, as well as the spread of hate speech and misinformation in non-English languages. Already, algorithmic management programs subject workers to run-of-the-mill wage theft, and these programs are becoming more prevalent…AI-related policy must be science-driven and built on relevant research, but too many AI publications come from corporate labs or from academic groups that receive disproportionate industry funding. Much is junk science—it is nonreproducible, hides behind trade secrecy, is full of hype and uses evaluation methods that lack construct validity (the property that a test measures what it purports to measure).”

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