AI Algorithms: Dealing Straight?

May 4, 2021

Humans are easily influenced and it is not rocket science either. In order to influence humans, all it takes is a working understanding of psychology, human behavior, and appealing to their emotions. Con artists are master manipulators, but they are about to be one upped by AI algorithms. The Next Web shares how easy it is to influence human behavior in the article, “Study Shows How Dangerously Simple It Is To Manipulate Voters (And Daters) With AI.”

Researchers at the Spanish Universidad de Deusto published a study on how AI can easily influence humans:

“Up front: The basic takeaway from the work is that people tend to do what the algorithm says. Whether they’re being influenced to vote for a specific candidate based on an algorithmic recommendation or being funneled toward the perfect date on an app, we’re dangerously easy to influence with basic psychology and rudimentary AI.

The big deal: We like to think we’re agents of order making informed decisions in a somewhat chaotic universe. But, as Neural’s Thomas Maucalay recently pointed out…we’re unintentional cyborgs.”

Apparently humans are no longer homo sapiens—the literal translation of the human scientific name is “wise man.” Due to our larger brain capacity, humans reasoned their way through evolution to become the dominant species. The research argues that due to our dependence on computers to do our thinking, we have changed our evolutionary status.

The researchers used fake personality tests situated around political candidates and dating apps to determine how participants were influenced by algorithms. The tests showed that participants were easily manipulated by choices AI algorithms offered them. The concept is similar to how magicians lure their audiences to a specific outcome with a “magical force.”

The problem is that we are uneducated about AI algorithm’s power. Companies use them for advertising to earn bigger profits, politicians use them to manipulate votes, and bad actors can use them to take advantage of unsuspecting marks. Bad actors, companies, politicians (although they do not all fall into the same ethics category) work faster than academics can test new algorithmic science. While humans are smart enough to beat some AI algorithms, they need to be educated about them first and it will be a long time before AI manipulation tactics make their way into Google type public service announcements.

Whitney Grace, May 4, 2021


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