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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Could artificial intelligence brainwash us? | New Zealand Herald

Photo: Jamie Morton
"Could robots change the way we think? Researchers fear AI could hijack our language" argue Jamie Morton, Science Reporter at NZ Herald. 

Kiwi researchers have shown it took only around 10 per cent of people to own a speech-enabled robot to completely dominate the usage of words.
Photo: 123RF
While that might seem the stuff of dark science fiction, New Zealand artificial intelligence (AI) experts say there's real fear that computer algoritms could hijack our language, and ultimately influence our views on products or politics.

"I would compare the situation with the subliminal advertising that was outlawed in the 1970s," said Associate Professor Christoph Bartneck, of Canterbury University's Human Interface Technology Laboratory, or HIT Lab.

"We are in a danger of repeated the exact same issue with the use of our language."

Bartneck has been working in the area with colleague Jurgen Brandstetter and other experts at the New Zealand Institute of Language Brain and Behaviour and Northwestern University in the US.

Their project has investigated how language changes and involves over time, and how robots and computers could influence not just the words we use, but our attitude toward those words.

Remarkably, the researchers showed it took only around 10 per cent of people to own a speech-enabled robot to completely dominate the usage of words.

One study involved pre-testing what word participants would normally use in a context, and then attempting to change this behaviour by consistently encouraging them to pick another word instead.

Following the experiment, the researchers checked whether the participants had switched to using the alternative word, and also whether their view toward that word had changed. "It did," Bartneck said.

"Given that this form of influence works in principle, it can be used by the companies that currently provide technology to influence consumers."...

"Trying to change the behaviour of people is in itself not necessarily unethical, but we need to be aware of it."

Source: New Zealand Herald