Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

A Moral Duty to Share Data? AI and the Data Free Rider Problem

Philosophy News image
Image taken from Roche et al 2014A lot of the contemporary debate around digital surveillance and data-mining focuses on privacy. This is for good reason. Mass digital surveillance impinges on the right to privacy. There are significant asymmetries of power between the companies and governments that utilise mass surveillance and the individuals affected by it. Hence, it is important to introduce legal safeguards that allow ordinary individuals to ensure that their rights are not eroded by the digital superpowers. This is, in effect, the ethos underlying the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).But is this always a good thing? I have encountered a number of AI enthusiasts who lament this fixation on privacy and data protection. Their worry seems to be this: Modern AI systems depend on massive amounts of data in order to be effective. If they don’t get the data, they cannot learn and develop the pattern-matching abilities that they need in order to work. This means that we need mass data collection in order to unlock the potential benefits of AI. If the pendulum swings too far in favour of privacy and data protection, the worry is that we will never realise these benefits.Now, I am pretty sure that this is not a serious practical worry just yet. There is still plenty of data being collected even with the protections of the GDPR and there are also plenty of jurisdictions around the world where individuals are not so well protected against the depredations of digital surveillance. So it’s not clear that AI is being held back right now by the lack of data. Still, the objection is an interesting one because it suggests that (a) if there is a sufficiently beneficial use case for AI and (b) if the development of that form of AI relies on mass data collection then (c) there might be some reason to think that individuals ought to share their data with AI developers. This doesn’t mean they should be legally obliged to do so, but perhaps we might think there is a. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: Philosophical Disquisitions

blog comments powered by Disqus