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The Cost of “Opps”

Is it fair to punish good and decent people who cause great problems? How about good and decent companies who cause great problems? Social media is a pleasant to spend time, while their associated algorithms manipulate the vulnerable. It is 90% good and 10% bad. Of course, all the social media inventors were focused on the 90%.

Last week, the President met with large companies who are spending billions on Artificial Intelligence (AI), which offers even more opportunity than the original internet. Allegedly, AI is smarter than mankind! I’m confident the people who attended the meeting with the President are all good and decent people, and they all promised to protect Americans from the negative impacts from AI, their latest brainchild. Didn’t we hear the same sincere assurances when they unleashed “social media”?

There’s an old Islamic quote saying “The True Believer is rewarded in every thing, even in affliction.” Why reward True Believers when they hurt people, albeit accidentally? The True Believers developing social media walked away with billions of dollars. I’m confident the AI executives meeting with the President are all True Believers in the inherent goodness of AI. What could go wrong?

Make no mistake: Innovators and inventors should be encouraged and protected, but does that mean there should be no consequences for the accidental harm they do? “Opps” cannot obscure affliction! There should be some consequence, even to “opps”. Usually when there is some token punishment, it is just a fine against the company, but shouldn’t the punishment be against the company and the individuals responsible, including CEOs for not managing closely enough?

Lawyers point out a conviction for accidental harm is almost impossible to prove. Probably so! Of course, if AI is really so smart, let it figure out how to punish harm caused by good and decent people, who make billions?

“Opps” is no excuse!