What to expect

From a Palestinian construction worker being arrested after a Facebook post was mistranslated, to the problem of sexism and racial bias in algorithms, the ethical and legal issues of computing are discussed, as well as positive stories like the power of an AI screening algorithm for cancer.

The chapter also includes this vision of the future from 1945:

First he runs through an encyclopedia, finds an interesting but sketchy article, leaves it projected. Next, in a history, he finds another pertinent item, and ties the two together. Thus he goes, building a trail of many items… Wholly new forms of encyclopedias will appear, ready made with a mesh of associative trails running through them, ready to be dropped into the memex and there amplified.– Vannevar Bush, “As We May Think”, The Atlantic, July 1945


Information technology caused a “third industrial revolution” and analysts are calling the convergence of mobile internet, automation and AI the “fourth industrial revolution”. With all new technology comes both opportunities and challenges.

IT issues include privacy, legal, cultural, environmental and ethical issues, and many issues span two or more of those categories such as automation, spam and viruses. Most technology decisions require the balancing of competing issues and impacts, for example automation drives down cost of production and eliminates hazardous occupations but can cost jobs or worsen inequality. The internet has opened up communications previously impossible but has created a digital divide between those with access and those without.

Artificial Intelligence is opening up huge possibilities in fields as diverse as healthcare, transport and the arts, but there are fears over bias, discrimination and lack of transparency. Cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin have been criticised for their energy use, and electronic waste is an ethical, environmental and legal issue, while finite resources needed in smartphones are mined by low-paid workers in exploitative practices.

In every question about issues and impacts of technology, we must consider all the stakeholders involved including the creators, vendors, shareholders, consumers and wider society.



References for this chapter









[165] Paper AI , Brain in a bag  AI unplugged