Technology Artificial intelligence now shapes our lives in profound ways, curating social media posts that drive us apart, determining who gets a loan
Technology Artificial intelligence now shapes our lives in profound ways, curating social media posts that drive us apart, determining who gets a loan or probation, and even helping choose our romantic partners.This week, WIRED is launching Sleepwalkers, based on a series of podcasts that examine the AI revolution.The first episode, available here, examines how AI manipulates and exploits us. It asks what kind of a future are we letting the technology build and offers some ideas for what to do about it. Host Oz Woloshyn discusses the sway that AI has over us with several experts trying to understand technology’s influence and to unravel where we may be headed.Tristan Harris, who once worked on technological persuasion at Google, now runs a think tank called the Center for Humane Technology, where he worries about AI’s power to seduce and manipulate us.“We’ve basically got 2 billion humans completely jacked into an environment where every single thing on your phone wants your attention,” Harris says. “Their incentive is to calculate ‘what is the perfect, most seductive thing can I show you next?’”Modern advertising also shows the reach that AI now has. Gillian Brockell, a writer at The Washington Post, discovered in tragic circumstance how advertising algorithms now track our personal lives. Her Facebook ads quickly seemed to understand that she was pregnant, and they served as a cruel and relentless reminder when she lost her child. She learned that resisting this AI-powered tracking and production promotion is much easier said than done.Are we doomed, though? Perhaps not. Woloshyn also considers ways we might wrestle back some control from the machines.At Jigsaw, for instance, an Alphabet subsidiary, Yasmin Green is trying to understand how search algorithms contribute to extremist recruitment and how they might be hijacked to steer people in a more peaceful direction.And at Match.com, not everyone believes you should put your faith in Cupid’s algorithmic arrow. The anthropologist Helen Fisher, who serves as chief scientific adviser, considers both the positive and negative effect AI has on modern love, and she suggests that we spend more time getting to know people than swiping right or left.Ultimately, AI’s capacity to control and influence us raises some deep questions. How do we agree which values AI should reflect? How do we resist products so finely tuned to our strongest desires? And how do we ensure that profit isn’t the only motive served?One thing seems clear. As the ex-Googler Harris says, it may be time to rethink our relationship with such powerful technology. “We have to recognize that this is having real-world consequences,” he says.More Great WIRED StoriesA journey to Galaxy’s Edge, the nerdiest place on earthBurglars really do use Bluetooth scanners to find laptops and phonesHow the dumb design of a WWII plane led to the MacintoshElectric cars—and irrationality—just might save the stick shiftChina’s sprawling movie sets put Hollywood to shame👁 A safer way to protect your data; plus, the latest news on AI✨ Optimize your home life with our Gear team’s best picks, from robot vacuums to affordable mattresses to smart speakers.