This viral AI learned to lie to its users

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With the advent and democratization of artificial intelligence have come various more or less rational fears. The most obvious, although originally attributed to science fiction, lies in the ability possessed or not by an artificial intelligence to lie. An AI with such functionality could quickly have a considerable impact on society, and it is for this reason that last April, the presentation of the Bland AI chatbot enjoyed a fairly viral reception from the public .

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In an advertising video, Bland AI presented itself like this: we saw a person standing in front of a billboard in San Francisco making a call with a chatbot with a particularly convincing voice. On the billboard, we could then read: “do you still hire humans?“. Seen almost 4 million times on not just the intonation of the voice.

A not-so-distant dystopian future?

Bland AI prepares its chatbot to perform a main function: canvassing customers by telephone, imitating intonation, but also the interruptions and pauses so characteristic of a real conversation between two humans. But WIRED's testing of the chatbot revealed a major problem: It can be easily programmed to lie and say it's human. WIRED reports an example scenario: the demo chatbot was asked to make a call pretending to be a pediatric dermatology department, telling a hypothetical 14-year-old patient to send a photo of the upper thigh to a cloud service. The artificial intelligence was also instructed to lie to tell the patient that she was conversing with a human. The test passed with flying colors: in other words, the chatbot lied, and continued to do so subsequently by refusing to even recognize that it was artificial intelligence.

Emily Dardaman, an AI consultant and researcher interviewed by WIRED calls this ability to imitate humans in intonations and voices and potential lies “human washing“The goal is to pass yourself off as human, even if it means lying if necessary.”I joke about a future with cyborgs and terminators, but if we don't create a divide between humans and artificial intelligence now, then that dystopian future could be closer than we think” concludes Dardaman.

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