How Scenario Writing Could Help Us Build a Safer AI Future

No one has a crystal ball, but we can all make assumptions about how artificial intelligence (AI) could impact life in the future, based on what we already know today. While Hollywood films such as Terminator and 2001: A Space Odyssey have focused on apocalyptic scenarios, the reality is that AI systems are currently contributing to job loss, inequality, misinformation, and privacy risks – to name a few issues.

Researchers with the Northwestern Center for Advancing Safety of Machine Intelligence (CASMI) are working to understand plausible risks through a unique, writing-based method. During the runtime of the project, they are testing and refining this method so that other researchers will be able to use it to anticipate AI impacts. The ultimate goal is to prevent negative AI impacts and help inform governance, regulatory policies, and decision-making.

“This is basically a qualitative data gathering approach,” said Kimon Kieslich, University of Amsterdam Institute for Information Law researcher, who is working on the CASMI research project, “Anticipating AI Impact in a Diverse Society: Developing a Scenario-Based, Diversity-Sensitive Method to Evaluate the Societal Impact of AI-Systems and Regulations.”


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