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This is how we learn to trust robots

Swede’s are generally positive to artificial intelligence (AI); however, as soon as these systems impinge on our daily lives, our scepticism increases. RISE is now investing in increasing knowledge and understanding of the consequences of using technology in general and AI in particular.

The media, the business community and the world of research – everyone is talking about artificial intelligence. RISE has initiated the focus area of The Connected Individual in order to create and compile knowledge about the role of the individual in the connected society. This organisation will be working in areas such as studying the effects that AI and algorithms have on people. Public policy researcher Jacob Dexe, who is leading this focus area, is working with RISE AI to lay the foundations for the institute’s work with artificial intelligence from an ethical perspective.

The bar for what the organisation is expected to achieve in this field has been set high.

“I strongly believe that we here in Sweden can lead the way on issues such how people adopt an ethically sustainable attitude to artificial intelligence,” says Jacob Dexe.

In comparison to Sweden, other countries have made greater progress with regards to the research and development of intelligent systems; none more so than the United States, where resources in personnel and capital are available for the development of state-of-the-art technology. In the wake of this technical revolution, international debate regarding the data-driven society has divided into those who see artificial intelligence as an existential threat to humanity and those who see intelligent systems as our saviours.

In Jacob Dexe’s opinion, this black and white view is far too simplistic and he points out that robots have been a part of society for a long time, for example in process industries.

“What is new is that machines have become more adept at making decisions. Until recently, humans had a monopoly on decision making; now, we have to learn to take a more mature attitude to the fact that intelligent systems can also do so,” says Jacob Dexe.

Jacob believes that the most pressing task right now is to cultivate a greater understanding of how humans influence intelligent systems and the basis on which these systems reach decisions.

“A system may react in a racist and discriminatory manner but only as a result of the data that we create for it to base its decisions on. We unconsciously build in biases. We need to be better at analysing cause and effect in intelligent systems,” explains Jacob Dexe.

In Jacob Dexe’s opinion, as people acquire more in-depth knowledge of intelligent systems, their faith in artificial intelligence will increase. Recent studies in which RISE has collaborated demonstrate that, in Sweden at least, the general public trusts AI, but only to the extent that it is not part of everyday life.

“In the future, I believe that we will see more transparent systems that will be easier for us to have confidence in. Sweden can be a pioneer; we have the desire, knowledge and resources required to combine transparency, ethics and AI,” concludes Jacob Dexe.