The danger of such technological evolution is that as AI becomes better at choosing on our behalf, our decision-making skills will worsen in parallel. “As AIs become more proficient at decision-making, humans are likely to defer to them for the convenience of not having to make a decision ourselves,” says Peter B. Reiner, a professor of neuroethics at the University of British Columbia. “One can easily see how this might reduce both the frequency of autonomous decision-making, and over time, agency. For decision-making is a skill like any other, and if we do not regularly practice making decisions in a given domain of life, our capacity to make such decisions may also diminish.”
The seemingly limitless delegation of control to artificial intelligence also raises another thorny question. If AI deprives us of autonomy, just where is this autonomy going, and whose ends are being served by its transfer? Well, there’s a simple answer to this question: the corporations that build and use AI that will benefit from having AI-based tools direct us toward the services and products they offer.
“The issue of corporate interests is one that is fundamental,” says Reiner. “I view our smartphones—and increasingly the entire ecosystem of algorithmic devices that we use day in and day out—as extensions of our minds. If this is true, then corporate interests have the potential to invade our minds, and most importantly are involved in helping us make decisions in ways that users generally don’t understand.”