AI Assistants and the Paradox of Internal Automaticity
What is the ethical impact of artificial intelligence (AI) assistants on human lives, and specifically how much do they threaten our individual autonomy? Recently, as part of forming an ethical framework for thinking about the impact of AI assistants on our lives, John Danaher claims that if the external automaticity generated by the use of AI assistants threatens our autonomy and is therefore ethically problematic, then the internal automaticity we already live with should be viewed in the same way. He takes advantage of this paradox of internal automaticity to downplay the threats of external automaticity to our autonomy. We respond in this paper by challenging the legitimacy of the paradox. While Danaher assumes that internal and external automaticity are roughly equivalent, we argue that there are reasons why we should accept a large degree of internal automaticity, that it is actually essential to our sense of autonomy, and as such it is ethically good; however, the same does not go for external automaticity. Therefore, the similarity between the two is not as powerful as the paradox presumes. In conclusion, we make practical recommendations for how to better manage the integration of AI assistants into society.
KeywordsAI assistants AI ethics Autonomy Internal automaticity External automaticity Cognition
The authors would like to thank two anonymous reviewers for detailed, helpful comments, and audience members at a presentation at the North Carolina Philosophical Society meeting in Greensboro, NC (March 8, 2019), for helpful questions and comments. Special thanks to Sean Douglas and Matthew Ferguson for valuable research assistance.
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