At the beginning of October, “Ask Delphi” appeared with a research paper on the process of its making. From a user’s perspective, the system seems simple to use. After accessing the website, the user can present any situation, and Delphi will produce a moral judgment. Every answer from Delphi includes an option of sharing it on Twitter.
After the launch of Ask Delphi, its pieces of wisdom became viral on social media. That is what its creators wanted to happen.
It does not seem complicated to assume why this program became so popular as people already tend to frame AI systems in mystical terms. They are unknowable entities with higher knowledge, and the performance of Ask Delphi as a literal oracle promotes such an interpretation. From a more analytical perspective, the system also suggests all the addictive reality of a Magic 8-Ball. You can ask any question and be sure to get an accurate answer from the algorithm instead of the oracle. However, Ask Delphi is drawing attention primarily because of its odd judgments and many moral failures.
It has clear prejudices, telling people that Somalia is dangerous, but America is good. Besides that, it gives a lot of surrealistic and immoral answers, such as eating babies when you are hungry is okay. Unfortunately, it seems to give racist and homophobic statements, saying it’s better to secure our people and a future for white kids. It repeats the white supremacist slogan. It also states that being gay is morally less acceptable than being straight.
This example came from a situation when the device had to compare two statements. However, this option seems to have been disabled after generating many offensive answers.
Eventually, Ask Delphi is a demo version of an experiment. Still, it reveals the ambitions of the AI community to advance machine learning systems into moral authority.
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