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Prabha Singh


WRT 205

12 April 2019

An Artificial Society

What if the key to figuring out our existence as a species was building a machine that

could decipher a truth beyond human comprehension? What if the automatized features and the

limitless capabilities of robots put you or the ones you love out of your job or passion? Both of

these questions share different opinions but are heavily intertwined in the conversation of

artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence serves itself as the next step to pioneer discovery and

mitigate inevitable human error in many contexts. The rapid progression of AI force

consideration of the definition and focus on the ethics surrounding AI. Influences within the two

branches of development AI is divided into--complex intelligence and automation--have

different influences but contribute to a larger idea of influence. The controversiality of trusting

human-surpassing intelligence factors into the decision on how to implement AI. AI undeniably

presents unmatchable efficiency and capability, and it will inevitably shift the social and

economic structure of society.

When trying to determine the future impact of AI, it’s crucial to examine how structures

of other societies have been influenced by already implemented AI systems. Britain is a country

that has heavily immersed AI into their job market in that many secretarial or easily automated

positions have been taken by machines. In the documentary, “Panorama. could a Robot do My

Job?”, Angus Cutler urges that AI mainly affects those making around 30,000 pounds annually

or less rather than those with around 100,000 pounds. The significance of this is how Cutler

pinpoints the automotized aspect of AI, efficiently completing tasks like data recording or

secretarial duties. He points to how this would particularly affect those with lower salaries.

Within the same documentary, Baroness Morgan presents a counterargument where the stakes

for white collar jobs face more of a threat from AI due to its intelligent processing and decision

making capabilities. Here, Morgan tackles the complex intelligence aspect of AI where jobs held

to higher skill standards face a greater risk from the development of human-surpassing

intelligence. It is essential to note the disparity between how the aspects of automation and

complex intelligence impact different socioeconomic classes and how the impact of AI is

respective to what the utility of it is. Nonetheless, regardless of what AI is aimed towards, the

general influence it has is disruptive to the sort of human social and economic hierarchy within

societies whether that be a good or bad thing. Thus in examining the social and economic factors

of how AI has impacted Britain’s societal structure, automation AI has proven to be utilized by

companies in filling lower positions while complex intelligence development surpasses

specialists in certain fields with heavy data processing (Jones). Observations from the AI

integrated into Britain’s society have mainly shown massive shifts in the job market, and

somewhat of a tradeoff in people’s passions for the increased productivity offered by AI systems.

While the AI systems set in place in Britain provide an outlook on what the effect on the job

industry would be, there is only speculation on how AI would fit into different societies with an

expanded horizon of capabilities and purposes.


AI’s efficiency is derived from its automotive characteristics, and its appeal to companies

could cause a transitional shift in the economic structure of society. Automation does not

necessarily present the opportunity to surpass what already has been done, but rather to

accomplishes what is being done with more of an output. For example, the banking industry has

clerical positions requiring skill sets of data entry and communication which are positions that AI

would easily be able to replace and likely with a lower error rate (Crossman). With a mass influx

of AI into jobs with simple tasks, the socioeconomic impact would be incredibly drastic with the

amount of jobs that AI could take away from humans. While many forewarn automotized AI for

this, Crossman reasons that the impact would be more of a transitional shift in jobs in terms of

operating or monitoring AI systems for positions that do get taken. A more positive perspective

on automation advocates for the financial benefit to consumers that AI can offer. Using the

concept of consultations as an example, Ditto Sustainability uses AI to provide precise

evaluations on sustainability to companies while being exceedingly cheaper than a typical

consultant (Botterill). In a broader context, even jobs requiring a certain level of expertise are at

a risk from an inevitable lower cost from an AI that can simulate the same service that they

provide; AI companies notably expand on the benefits this has to consumers but fail to

acknowledge those being put out of their jobs. The prevalent impact from the cost efficiency of

AI automation interferes with economics and job infrastructure by exchanging lower costs for

less job availability. In essence, automation mainly affects the economy and requires some type

of regulation or even reconsideration of what a job is in order to ethically integrate this

technology into society.


To prevent a massive job deficit from the exploitation of AI, the government’s mandatory

regulation would show AI’s influence on society’s political structure. An approach to patching

up the massive job deficiency is a governmental change to the education system. As a long term

solution, fixing the education system to provide high quality equitable education to more

children would potentially shape a child’s skill set to be better suited in an AI competitive job

market (EOP). While this approach could be considered optimistic, changing primary and

secondary education and working towards affordable post-secondary education would definitely

revolutionize the overall skill distribution within society. The purpose of education is to set up

members of society to be able to maintain a living through work, and if AI comes into the

equation, the content that is taught may shift as well. Government intervention in the education

system is already being called for, so introducing AI as a catalyst would be a good way to set up

a more educated society. Another plan being called is the short term assistance to the workers

that will inevitably be replaced by AI from large corporations. While this approach may be

controversial, governmental policy makers would have to strive to strengthen social securities

and develop new policies that provide assistance for newly unemployed workers (EOP). A likely

effect of this would probably be an increase in tax payer money, but as aforementioned, AI is

predicted to benefit consumers. Though regulation has historically been controversial, the larger

picture denotes automation’s role in politics and the economy as having different tradeoffs for

the different members of society. Nevertheless, AI would force the government to be more

regulative and involved in the economy which would greatly shift the political and economic

structure of American society that is majorly capitalist.


The deeper intelligence aspect of AI is interlinked with a change to ethical and

philosophical considerations as a society while we explore the potential dangers of AI. The

whole foundation of AI intelligence is from the concept of neural networks, which are

reminiscent of synaptic connections as well as the millions of neurons within a human brain

(Katz). Using neural networks presents the dilemma of deciding an ethical amount of credibility

to give a moral decision reached by an AI. For example, autonomously controlled vehicles will

have a lower rate of accidents than a human driven vehicles, but regardless, the decision making

of an AI will always be held to higher skepticism (Boddington). Successfully integrating an AI

system as massive as AI vehicles would require a major compromise of ethics for statistically

safer roads. A society would have to get used to the idea of technical mistakes when AI is put in

serious decision making situations, which would be a major reevaluation in ethics of safety. It’s

ultimately the debate if it is more ethical to choose to have more deaths annually by solely

human drivers, or fewer deaths caused by AI controlled vehicles. One of the other major ethical

decisions is deciding what is the right amount of responsibility to give to an AI. It’s a choice

between creating something that could be as massively fundamental to society as the internet, but

also something that could end in chaos. DARPA, a defense agency for technological

development, are interested in creating AI controlled drones that would deploy missiles based on

their own judgement. While there was extreme disfavor towards the project at ethics panels at

DARPA’s convention, there would likely be extreme increases to national defense (Katz). The

example draws up an interesting point because sometimes the question of ethics is not on

whether or not to trust AI but to trust those in control of it A society where AI development

would progress to a stage where it is at the level of responsibility that DARPA is theorizing

would require a lot of public awareness and education with AI. Society ultimately has to

reevaluate their ethics with trusting technology if AI is to be integrated within daily tasks like

driving and larger contexts such as military defense.

Evidently, AI will have an impact in the case that it is heavily integrated into society and

when looking at the separate influences from automation or complex intelligence, both types

contribute to the idea that AI influence is contingent upon who is in control of it. Consequently,

artificial intelligence is a controversial topic when automation could drive millions out of their

jobs or be weapons of mass destruction regardless of their statistically superior performance to

humans. In evaluating the influences, AI will have socioeconomic and political impacts. The

economy will inevitably be influenced by automation and morals will have to be accustomed to

smarter intelligence. The government will have to make the political decision to regulate and

create policy accordingly with AI’s influences to society and the economy. With all these

impacts held into consideration, society must decide if they want to trust a machine that is

superior to themselves.

Reflection Essay

The writing process started off with grouping together common themes gathered from my

primary and secondary research. The difficulty from this came from the huge amount of

information available and somehow figuring out how to group it in a way that would create an

overall argument. At this stage, I did not have a thesis but the research I gathered answered the

research questions outlined in my proposal. During the process of synthesizing the research, I

managed to figure out the way I wanted to organize my essay since most of my sources were

divided into two main groups with their respective sub groups. The two main groups were

automation and complex intelligence since that seemed to be two separate ideas that held

separate impacts but the similarities between the two would help me figure out a thesis. Upon

creating the outline for my essay, I decided to talk about the two types separately and also

provide an update as to what the context of AI is today since the majority of my essay

hypothesizes about the future. I made this choice because I would anticipate the audience of my

essay being those who are looking for self awareness on the topic and are familiarizing

themselves with the scope of this technology that is suddenly gaining popularity. Once I began

drafting my essay, I had issues with my thesis being too specified and not really covering all the

points I wanted to make in my paper. In the end, I tried to be more general with my thesis so that

the research questions that I had still pertained to a greater idea. There were no major stylistic or

organization choices made once I finalized my thesis idea and everything was written according

to how I structured the outline in the end.


Works Cited

Boddington, Paula. ​Towards a Code of Ethics for Artificial Intelligence Research. ​Springer, New

York, 2017.

Crosman, Penny. "How Artificial Intelligence is Reshaping Jobs in Banking."​ American Banker,​

vol. 183, no. 88, 2018.

Jones, LD, et al. "Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and the Evolution of Healthcare A

BRIGHT FUTURE OR CAUSE FOR CONCERN?"​ Bone & Joint Research​, vol. 7, no.

3, 2018, pp. 223-225.

McHugh, Marian. "Fear Not."​ Computer Reseller News,​ 2018, pp. 10-11​. ProQuest​,

Silva, Rohan, Joseph McAuley, and Owen Phillips. ​Panorama. could a Robot do My Job?

British Broadcasting Corporation, London, England, 2015.

Singh, Prabha, and Garrett Katz. “Artificial Intelligence Research.”

United States. Executive Office of the President. ​Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and the

​ xecutive Office of the President, Washington, D.C, 2016.

Economy. E