KoolKill

Ethics in AI

Ethics in AI

DeepMind researchers propose rebuilding the AI industry on a base of anticolonialism – “The researchers detailed how to build AI systems while critically examining colonialism and colonial forms of AI already in use in a preprint paper released Thursday. The paper was coauthored by DeepMind research scientists William Isaac and Shakir Mohammed and Marie-Therese Png, an Oxford doctoral student and DeepMind Ethics and Society intern who previously provided tech advice to the United Nations Secretary General’s High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation.”

The researchers posit that power is at the heart of ethics debates and that conversations about power are incomplete if they do not include historical context and recognize the structural legacy of colonialism that continues to inform power dynamics today. They further argue that inequities like racial capitalism, class inequality, and heteronormative patriarchy have roots in colonialism and that we need to recognize these power dynamics when designing AI systems to avoid perpetuating such harms.

“Any commitment to building the responsible and beneficial AI of the future ties us to the hierarchies, philosophy, and technology inherited from the past, and a renewed responsibility to the technology of the present,” the paper reads. “This is needed in order to better align our research and technology development with established and emerging ethical principles and regulation, and to empower vulnerable peoples who, so often, bear the brunt of negative impacts of innovation and scientific progress.”

The paper incorporates a range of suggestions, such as analyzing data colonialism and decolonization of data relationships and employing the critical technical approach to AI development Philip Agre proposed in 1997.

The notion of anticolonial AI builds on a growing body of AI research that stresses the importance of including feedback from people most impacted by AI systems. An article released in Nature earlier this week argues that the AI community must ask how systems shift power and asserts that “an indifferent field serves the powerful.” VentureBeat explored how power shapes AI ethics in a special issue last fall. Power dynamics were also a main topic of discussion at the ACM FAccT conference held in early 2020 as more businesses and national governments consider how to put AI ethics principles into practice.

some of DeepMind’s machine learning fairness research…

also btw…

Softlaw: “law that is software coded before it is passed.” (A very direct and literal take on @lessig’s “code is law”)[1,2]

posted by kliuless (38 comments total)

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Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century

Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century

Politics Without Politicians – “The political scientist Hélène Landemore asks, If government is for the people, why can’t the people do the governing?” (via)

Her forthcoming book, due out next year and currently titled “Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century,” envisions what true government by mass leadership could look like. Her model is based on the simple idea that, if government by the people is a goal, the people ought to do the governing.

“Open democracy,” Landemore’s coinage, does not center on elections of professional politicians into representative roles. Leadership is instead determined by a method roughly akin to jury duty (not jury selection): every now and then, your number comes up, and you’re obliged to do your civic duty—in this case, to take a seat on a legislative body. For a fixed period, it is your job to work with the other people in the unit to solve problems and direct the nation. When your term is up, you leave office and go back to your normal life and work. “It’s the idea of putting randomly selected citizens into political power, or giving them some sort of political role on a consultative body or a citizens’ assembly,” said Alexander Guerrero, a professor of philosophy at Rutgers who, in 2014, published an influential paper arguing for random selection in place of elections—a system with some precedents in ancient Athens and Renaissance Italy which he dubbed “lottocracy.” (It’s the basis for his own forthcoming book.) In open democracy, Landemore imagines lottocratic rule combined with crowdsourced feedback channels and other measures; the goal is to shift power from the few back to the many.

To many Americans, such a system will seem viscerally alarming—the political equivalent of lending your fragile vintage convertible to the red-eyed, rager-throwing seventeen-year-old down the block. Yet many immediate objections fall away on reflection. Training and qualification: Well, what about them? Backgrounds among American legislators are varied, and members seem to learn well enough on the job. The belief that elections are a skills-proving format? This, too, cancels out, since none of the skills tested in campaigning (fund-raising, glad-handing, ground-gaming, speechmaking) are necessary in a government that fills its ranks by lottery.

Landemore was taken with the unorthodox idea that normal people, in a group, could be trusted with big, scary decisions.

Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century with Hélène Landemore – “Hélène’s third book–Open Democracy: Reinventing Popular Rule for the 21st Century (under contract with Princeton University Press)–develops a new paradigm of democracy in which the exercise of power is as little gated as possible, even as it depends on representative structures to make it possible. In this version of popular rule, power is equally open to all, as opposed to just those who happen to stand out in the eyes of others (as in electoral democracies). The book centrally defends the use of non-electoral yet democratic forms of representation, including ‘lottocratic’, ‘self-selected’, and ‘liquid’ representation.”

also btw…

Continuous elections – “For a variety of reasons, I think it a good idea that we introduce into our voting system a greater element of stochasticism, of structured, intentional randomness.”[1]

We select juries largely by lottery, on the theory that this is a good way to get a representative sample of ones “peers”. There have been a variety of democratic experiments with sortition, simply choosing by lot, picking random names from the phone book. Perhaps overcynically, many of us might consider that an improvement over our present, professional political representation.

I do not favor sortition for the constitution of our legislatures. There is a lot to be said for choosing among representatives who express an interest in and commit to doing the work, and to some kind of voting process that ideally filters for quality. What I do favor is an idea called “lottery voting” or “random ballot”. I really encourage you to read the first link, a very readable academic note by Akhil Reed Amar which introduced the idea. You should also read this essay by David MacIver (ht Bill Mill). In a nutshell, everybody votes in the way they currently do for their preferred candidate. Then we throw the ballots in a big hat, and draw the winner like a bingo hall door prize.[2] You’d never want to use lottery voting to elect a President. Who knows who you might pick? It’d be totally random. But for a large legislature, lottery voting will predictably yield proportional representation along whatever axes or characteristics are salient to voters, not just formal political parties. Further, lottery voting is immune to gerrymandering, and every vote always has equal influence. (This is decidedly untrue of conventional “first-past-the-vote” voting, where the statistical effect of a vote — the difference in the probability of a candidate winning with and without an additional vote — depends very much on the closeness of the election.) There are lots of reasons to love lottery voting, including the conventional case for proportional representation, which I very desperately endorse. (See Matt Yglesias and Lee Drutman.) Not to let the best be the enemy of the good, Id favor American experiments in more common forms of proportional representation (multimember districts, party lists), but lottery voting really is the gold standard. It is simple, effective, resistant to entrenchment of incumbents or capture by political parties. The US House of Representatives should be selected by lottery voting today. At the very least, we should start experimenting in some state houses.

New research targets sufferers of social anxiety disorder

New research targets sufferers of social anxiety disorder

  • Sufferers of social anxiety have markedly different personality traits than others.
  • By understanding these traits, researchers at Uppsala believe targeted therapies could evolve.
  • Social anxiety affects 15 million American adults every year.

In his essay, “The problem of anxiety,” Sigmund Freud wrote that anxiety is the “fundamental phenomenon and the central problem of neurosis.” You will not find a final word on the subject in Freud’s writing, however. His theories on anxiety evolved throughout his life. By the end of his illustrious and contentious career, he admitted that he would likely never completely define what anxiety entails.

That doesn’t mean his contributions were for naught. No one contributed as much to our understanding of the unconscious drives that fuel our reality. Freud’s ideas about sexuality are regularly debated—even he moved away from his earlier work—yet he knew what others, such as Kierkegaard and Rank, recognized: Anxiety is our natural state. To be conscious is to have anxiety. It’s the cost of being able to foresee the future. How you deal with that anxiety in large part defines your personality.

Freud terms objective anxiety “anxious readiness.” This function arms an individual so that they will not be surprised by sudden threats. Being overly prepared, however, leads to problems: your actions are paralyzed. This is the “freeze” function of our nervous system. This is also the basis of social anxiety: an inability to be in public, or, when you must go out, the sheer terror of being among others.

Social anxiety: How to rewire your confidence and be a better communicator | Andrew Horn

New research from Uppsala University, published in the journal PLOS ONE, investigates the ramifications of social anxiety. The conclusion that lead author Tomas Furmark comes to: sufferers of social anxiety disorders exhibit different personality traits than others.

Personality is defined by the Big Five traits: openness to experience, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. Each of these traits operate along a spectrum. Are you curious or cautious? Are you compassionate toward your partner or are you emotionally detached? Do you step into the center of a party or are you the perpetual wallflower that leaves out the back door?

Context matters. You might be extroverted in an environment in which you’re comfortable, exuding a ton of confidence. Walk next door and suddenly you’re reserved and nervous. Anxiety is tethered to environment and your personality isn’t fixed. You can change your place on any of the spectrums, which is the goal of therapy.

For sufferers of social anxiety—15 million American adults every year—lateral movement is difficult. Just as depressed people often cannot envision the future, the socially anxious find it challenging to be in public. There’s context here as well. The supermarket might be easy but that cocktail party is never going to happen. At the extreme end, social anxiety means only leaving your home for specific, targeted purposes, and even those trips make you anxious.

Photo by Ahmed Nishaath on Unsplash

The team at Uppsala asked 265 volunteers with social anxiety to fill out comprehensive personality surveys. They identified three groups based on cluster analysis: prototypical social anxiety disorder (33 percent), whose members appear highly anxious and introverted; introvert-conscientious social anxiety disorder (29 percent), whose members are introverted but also have high levels of conscientiousness; and unstable-open social anxiety disorder (38 percent), with individuals scoring high on openness.

While the causes of each disorder differ, Fumark and his team identified specific personality traits that appear to be universal: high neuroticism and introversion, emotional instability, and a tendency to turn inward.

The researchers believe that defining these traits helps to expand our understanding of social anxiety disorders, which helps therapists target each subtype. As the team concludes,

“SAD personality subtypes may have different etiologies and it seems plausible that individuals exhibiting vastly different personality characteristics require different treatment strategies.”

For example, cognitive behavioral therapy could be utilized with social approach focus to treat SAD sufferers with depression or low energy. Targeted approaches might work better for patients with certain types of traits as compared to others with different traits. As always, the team recommends further research, but this seems to be an important step in understanding the many shades of social anxiety.

Stay in touch with Derek on Twitter and Facebook. His next book is “Hero’s Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy.”

Why did women vote for Hitler? Long-forgotten essays hold some answers

Why did women vote for Hitler? Long-forgotten essays hold some answers

The rise of Hitler and the Nazi Party in the 1930s came on the back of votes from millions of ordinary Germans – both men and women.


But aside from a few high-profile figures, such as concentration camp guard Irma Grese and “concentration camp murderess” Ilse Koch, little is known about the everyday women who embraced the National Socialist German Workers’ Party, known more commonly as the Nazi Party. What little data we do have on ordinary Nazi women has been largely underused, forgotten or ignored. It has left us with a half-formed understanding of the rise of the Nazi movement, one that is almost exclusively focused on male party members.

And yet more than 30 essays on the subject “Why I became a Nazi” written by German women in 1934 have been lying fallow in the archives of the Hoover Institution in Palo Alto for decades. These essays were only unearthed three years ago when three Florida State University professors arranged to have them transcribed and translated. They have since been made available digitally, but have not received widespread attention.

Not all Cabaret

As scholars of Holocaust studies, crimes against humanity and political behavior, we believe the accounts of these women give an insight into the role of women in the rise of the Nazi party. They also point to the extent to which women’s attitudes on feminism differed after the Great War – a time when women were making gains in independence, education, economic opportunity and sexual freedom.

The German women’s movement had been among the most powerful and significant in the world for half a century before the Nazis came to power in 1933. Top-quality high schools for girls had existed since the 1870s, and German universities were opened to women at the beginning of the 20th century. Many German women became teachers, lawyers, doctors, journalists and novelists. In 1919, German women got the vote. By 1933, women, of whom there were millions more than men – Berlin had 1,116 women for every 1,000 men – voted in roughly the same percentages as men for Hitler and National Socialist candidates.

‘Everyone was everyone’s enemy’

The essays unearthed at the Hoover Institution give an insight as to why some of them did.

Dissatisfaction with the attitudes of the Weimar era, the period between the end of World War I and Hitler’s rise to power, is clear in the women’s writing. Most of the essay writers express distaste with some aspect of the political system. One calls women’s voting rights “a disadvantage for Germany,” while another describes the political climate as “haywire,” and “everyone was everyone’s enemy.” Margarethe Schrimpff, a 54-year-old woman living just outside of Berlin, describes her experience:

“I attended the meetings of all … parties, from the communists to the nationalists; at one of the democratic meetings in Friedenau [Berlin], where the former Colonial Minister, a Jew by the name of Dernburg, was speaking, I experienced the following: this Jew had the audacity to say, among other things: ‘What are the Germans actually capable of; maybe breeding rabbits.’

“Dear readers, do not think that the heavily represented stronger sex jumped up and told this Jew where to go. Far from it. Not one man made a sound, they stayed dead quiet. However, a miserable, frail little woman from the so-called ‘weaker sex’ raised her hand and forcefully rejected the Jew’s brazen remarks; he had in the meantime allegedly disappeared to attend another meeting.”

These essays were originally collected by an assistant professor at Columbia University, Theodore Abel, who organized an essay contest with generous prizes with the cooperation of the Nazi Propaganda Ministry. Of nearly 650 essays, roughly 30 were written by women, and Abel set them aside, explaining in a footnote that he intended to examine them separately. But he never did. The men’s essays formed the basis for his book, “Why Hitler Came To Power,” published in 1938, which remains an important source in the global discourse about the Nazi rise to power.

Summarizing Abel’s findings, historian Ian Kershaw wrote in his book on Hitler’s rise to power that they showed that the “appeal of Hitler and his movement was not based on any distinctive doctrine.” He concluded that almost a third of the men were attracted by the indivisible “national community” – Volksgemeinschaft – ideology of the Nazis, and a similar proportion were swayed by nationalist, super-patriotic and German-romantic notions. In only about an eighth of the cases was anti-Semitism the prime ideological concern, although two-thirds of the essays revealed some form of dislike of Jews. Almost a fifth were motivated by the Hitler cult alone, attracted by the man himself, but the essays reveal differences between men and women in the reason for the enthrallment with the Nazi leader.

The cult of Hitler

For men, the cult of personality appears to center around Hitler as a strong leader charging toward a Germany which defined itself by those it excluded. It’s not surprising that women, on the cusp of exclusion themselves, were less captivated by this component of Nazism. Rather, the women’s essays tend to refer to religious imagery and sentiment conflating piety with the Hitler cult. The women appear to be moved more by Nazism’s proposed solutions to problems such as poverty rather than the supposed grandeur of Nazi ideology in the abstract.

In her essay, Helene Radtke, a 38-year-old wife of a German soldier, describes her “divine duty to forget about all my household chores and to perform my service to my homeland.”

Agnes Molster-Surm, a housewife and private tutor, calls Hitler her “God-given Führer and savior, Adolf Hitler, for Germany’s honor, Germany’s fortune and Germany’s freedom!”

Another woman replaced the star on her Christmas tree with a photograph of Hitler surrounded by a halo of candles. These men and women shared the message of National Socialism as if it was gospel and refer to new party members as “converts.” One such woman describes early efforts to “convert” her family to Nazism as falling “on stony soil and not even the slightest little green sapling of understanding sprouted.” She was later “converted” through conversations with her mailman.

The essays do not only serve as historical curios, but as a warning as to how ordinary people can be attracted to extremist ideology at a time of social distress. Similar language has been used to describe the current political climate in the United States and other countries. Perhaps, as some do today, these women believed all their society’s ills could be solved by the restoration of their nation to a perceived state of former glory, no matter the cost.

Sarah R. Warren, Ph.D. student, Florida State University; Daniel Maier-Katkin, Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice, Florida State University, and Nathan Stoltzfus, Dorothy and Jonathan Rintels Professor of Holocaust Studies, Florida State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.