Check out this story from NPR about the false imprisonment of a man based on facial recognition technology.
What’s interesting to me is the first part of the headline: Ain’t nobody’s fault! The box did it!
This is a theme heavily explored by the great Neil Postman in his book Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology, the diffusion of responsibility from those who possess political authority onto the sophisticated tools that they use to oppress us.
As you’ll see, the pigs went off the computer hit alone, did no other corroborative police work whatsoever before arresting this innocent man in front of his young children.
Artificial Intelligence is absolutely stupid as hell. It isn’t real. It’s just an algorithm. It’s electricity on a card. It thinks all black men look alike. But human beings invest a completely unwarranted belief in computers as superior beings to ourselves. They can detect lies, determine medical treatments and find all the bad shoplifters if only we turn over our power and decision-making to them.
And they also serve as great scapegoats for the decisions of human beings about what happens to others.