AI Extenders: The Ethical and Societal Implications of Humans Cognitively Extended by AI
The Second AAAI / ACM Annual Conference on AI, Ethics, and Society, 26-28 January 2019, Hawaii USA
Humans and AI systems are usually portrayed as separate systems that we need to align in values and goals. However, there is a great deal of AI technology found in non-autonomous systems that are used as cognitive tools by humans. Under the extended mind thesis, the functional contributions of these tools become as essential to our cognition as our brains. But AI can take cognitive extension towards totally new capabilities, posing new philosophical, ethical and technical challenges. To analyse these challenges better, we define and place AI extenders in a continuum between fully-externalized systems, loosely coupled with humans, and fully-internalized processes, with operations ultimately performed by the brain, making the tool redundant. We dissect the landscape of cognitive capabilities that can foreseeably be extended by AI and examine their ethical implications. We suggest that cognitive extenders using AI be treated as distinct from other cognitive enhancers by all relevant stakeholders, including developers, policy makers, and human users.