AI Extenders: The Ethical and Societal Implications of Humans Cognitively Extended by AI

In Proceedings of the AAAI/ACM 2019 Conference on AIES. pp. 507-513 (2019)
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Humans and AI systems are usually portrayed as separate sys- tems 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 capabil- ities, posing new philosophical, ethical and technical chal- lenges. 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 cog- nitive 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.
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