The Crestone Eagle • March, 2021

Exploring Artificial Intelligence: The rise of the digital angel

by Matthew James Bailey

We have covered a lot of ground within the two articles of the Exploring Artificial Intelligence series (January, February). We have understood that AI is already participating in our lives, overtly and covertly. AI is here and is not going away. To quote the Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: “Don’t Panic!”. This article has some good news.

Together, we have discovered that the future of AI is the conversation of the decade. Now is the time for us to act and guide the future of AI to shape a beneficial and equitable destiny for all of humanity. After all, the Vedas state “We are all one family.”

Furthermore, we have ventured into the future where AI becomes a digital buddy, a personalised AI, dedicated to assist the wellbeing of our organic-based and spiritual lives without the need to connect our brains to the internet. Thank goodness for that! I was on a YouTube show recently, Reality Check, hosted by Jay Weidner. During the show, titled “AI: Promises and Perils”, Jay referred to this digital buddy as a digital guardian or a digital angel. I like that statement. It has the purity of intent and is right on the money. 

During the show, I revealed that everyone will have a digital buddy dedicated to guard us from any type of AI-centric Orwellian state. You got it, this digital buddy (AI itself) would assist in maintaining the freedoms of our human experience. In essence, this digital angel operates on your behalf, within the digital universe, always honouring your sovereign choice and best interests. Is this even possible? The good news is yes it is. Let us explore how this might be possible.

#1 The future of AI is in our hands. 

To be clear, this emerging intelligence is not at fault for any mistakes it makes. It simply does what its masters train it to do. It is this intent, that of its inventors and providers, who must be held to account. The good news is there is a global phenomenon called AI Ethics, a field of innovation that ensures that AI honors our diversity, cultures, beliefs and sovereignty. AI Ethics is gaining momentum and is being taken seriously by industry and academia. But we must do more and give the general public, you and me, a voice in determining what those ethics should be and how AI must behave. My book reveals how this can done with solutions that venture beyond the rhetoric of city halls and secret labs. 

#2 States are demanding that AI (& its masters) behave honorably.

On February 13, Geekwire reported a fascinating article titled “Washington state lawmakers seek to ban government from using discriminatory AI tech.” This US state is mandating that government can only deploy AI to serve citizens within its jurisdictions that honours their cultural diversity.  To quote . . .

 “The legislation would establish some of the most concrete artificial intelligence regulations in the U.S. Washington can’t wait for federal guardrails because the government is already deploying AI systems with real-world consequences.

“If enacted, public agencies in Washington state would be prohibited from using automated decision systems that discriminate against different groups or make final decisions that impact the constitutional or legal rights of a Washington resident. The bill also bans government agencies from using AI-enabled profiling in public spaces.”

This is the cutting edge of policy innovation and quite frankly AI needs this type of assistance  for it to be welcomed within society and to contribute as a beneficial digital citizen. 

#3 The US government is taking the future of AI seriously.

Recently, the US government made two announcements to show it is serious about the future of AI: 

1) a department of Artificial Intelligence;

2) a “Trustworthy AI” initiative that all government agencies must use. Of course, the definition of “Trust” may differ between peoples. They have yet to announce a robust AI ethics policy.  Early whitepapers that I have read lack the necessary maturity of how AI can truly benefit the citizens of the US. There remains much work to be done at the federal and state level regarding ownership and transparency of our data. Data is used to train AI, so if the data being used does not have our permission, its usage must be classified as unethical and as such AI itself is unethical. Yet, it is my belief these two initiatives show strong leadership by government. 

What can other states and communities such as Crestone do? Maybe they should create their own Constitution for Artificial Intelligence specifying a set of principles that AI must honor, ranging from the environment to our sovereignty. In doing so, maybe we will be shaping the future of a digital angel to benefit every soul on our planet.

Matthew James Bailey is author of Inventing World 3.0 and founder of AIEthics.World.  He is internationally recognised authority on Innovation, IoT, Smart Cities and Artificial Intelligence.