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How AI will rewire us (good read via TheAtlantic)

I like AI discussions that focus on humans or human behaviour. This week, I really enjoyed Nicholas A. Christakis’s piece, ‘How AI Will Rewire Us’ for The Atlantic.

Take a look at this excerpt, where Christakis considers a very simple example of how the injection of AI into a ‘normal’ social setting can have dramatic results:

“But adding AI to our social environment can also make us behave less productively and less ethically. In yet another experiment, this one designed to explore how AI might affect the “tragedy of the commons”—the notion that individuals’ self-centered actions may collectively damage their common interests—we gave several thousand subjects money to use over multiple rounds of an online game. In each round, subjects were told that they could either keep their money or donate some or all of it to their neighbours. If they made a donation, we would match it, doubling the money their neighbours received. Early in the game, two-thirds of players acted altruistically. After all, they realized that being generous to their neighbours in one round might prompt their neighbours to be generous to them in the next one, establishing a norm of reciprocity. From a selfish and short-term point of view, however, the best outcome would be to keep your own money and receive money from your neighbors. In this experiment, we found that by adding just a few bots (posing as human players) that behaved in a selfish, free-riding way, we could drive the group to behave similarly. Eventually, the human players ceased cooperating altogether.

The bots thus converted a group of generous people into selfish jerks.”

You can read the full article here.

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