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Government adviser Gerd Gigerenzer: "Artificial intelligence is overrated" – Economy

Sunday, February 11th, 2018 | bitcoin updates


Professor Gigerenzer, what is the value of a human being? The answer to this question is increasingly changing. We live in a world where we are replacing more and more judgment with numbers – with scores that calculate a person's value using algorithms. In China, by 2020, there should be a score for every human being that not only has financial strength, but also the media behavior and the question of what kind of friendships someone cares. What are the consequences for people who, from the government's point of view, have the wrong friends? This social credit system is still at an experimental stage, but the Chinese government has already outlined possible consequences in a paper. If you do not behave socially, if you visit the wrong websites, buy too many video games, go red at the traffic lights or even have friends with low scores, your score will drop. If the score is too low, you must stop flying, refurbish your home, your children may not go to the best schools, and many other restrictions. Such a program leads to self-control within the family. It thereby becomes a self-runner. The government presents the program as a means against corruption, crime and the lack of trust in public institutions. Incidentally, not only individuals, but also companies and institutions get a score. Everyone should be able to immediately recognize how trustworthy and honest other people and companies are. That sounds pretty much like George Orwell's 1984 book, in which the state oversees and oversees everyone, and everyone has to behave well. Yes, that's how we see it in the West. The end of freedom. Total surveillance allows Big Data today instead of Orwell's Big Brother. We are long since already on this way. How far? With us are also collected in a tour data and people evaluated. And many see that positively. This starts with the Schufa, which gives you a value for your financial credit and goes on with the insurance, which offers you cheaper rates, if you provide the companies with your data. Telematics tariffs in the car insurance are supposed to reduce accidents. Health insurers funded Fitbits and receive in return the data on the number of steps you go and you get a bonus. Consumers judge others on Ebay, Amazon or Airbnb – and are rated. The whole thing is already on. We are now in an important phase where we should have a discussion of values. Do we want to keep this going? If we do nothing, one day a company or state institution will merge the various databases into a single social credit score, and in the end, we will have Chinese proportions.

Living in a bad neighborhood lowers my Schufa value, even if I always pay my bills on time. How fair is that? That's called geoscoring. If you live in a tenement and your neighbors are financially unsound, you will get a poor credit rating from many companies – or even if your home is on a street whose residents occasionally do not pay their bill. For example, you will have to pay higher interest on loans or not get an apartment, even if nothing is personal against you. How reliable are such rating systems? That's a good question. But even if the values ​​are unreliable, they affect our lives. We are facing a radical technical intervention in our psyche. At some point, life is just about keeping the score or improving it. One could escape the system. What if you do not join? Is it possible that the concern for privacy has negative consequences, because it is assumed that you have something to hide Yes, of course. A good friend of mine is a university teacher and wanted to buy a flat in Berlin. The seller demanded a Schufa statement. If my friend had not caught up with her, he probably would not have gotten the apartment. If you do not know your value or do not show it, you are suspicious.Can it be considered a disadvantage to not be on Facebook or professional networks? Yes, that's quite possible. I myself do not use Facebook and I do not miss it either. I have more time for personal contact and reflection. What would have to happen now to secure guard rails?

That would have been an important issue for the coalition negotiations, but politics is primarily concerned only with the – also important – question of how to promote digitization and create the technical conditions. The social and psychological dimension is left out. We talk about technology and not about what technology does to us. It has created a big blind spot here. We need a debate now. If we do nothing, technology will drive us. In concrete terms, who needs to do something? The Consumer Council of Experts is currently working on the Consumer Scoring project. We will submit a report by the end of the year, aiming to generate greater awareness and attention. In China, most people have not heard of the program. And those who have heard of it find it rather good. They appreciate that they know about anyone who knocks on the door, or any new colleague with the score. Even women who are looking for a partner can immediately see how trustworthy a man is. The scores are supposed to be public in China, not obscured as in our Schufa, and I believe that there will be a group in Germany that will be under surveillance for the digitally-transparent human being and such a program. Who will that be? some big internet companies. Eric Schmidt, ex-chief of Google, preaches the vision of full transparency and means that if someone has something to hide, then he should not even do it. I see an amazing match between Schmidt and the Chinese government – and in China, Baidu, the equivalent of Google, is also involved in the social credit score program. In Germany, we have two questions: should we just keep scoring in finance, health, crime, leasing, mail order and so on? And if you answer that yes, the next question is, should you allow these different databases to be merged to get a total score for each citizen, what do you think: are you ready to intervene in data collection? About with legal prohibitions? Yes. Many of these data collections are useless and the claim that they can reliably predict people's behavior is often misleading advertising. The algorithms are not right? In the US, since the beginning of this century, an algorithm called COMPAS has been used, with which more than one million defendants have been assessed. COMPAS is asked to answer the question of the likelihood that a defendant will commit an offense within the next two years. The algorithm analyzes each defendant's answers to 137 questions and their criminal history. How the value is calculated, neither the defendant nor the judge understands. The algorithm is a trade secret. And how good is the algorithm? A 2018 study has shown that COMPAS is no better than ordinary people with no experience in crime prediction. These people were randomly recruited on the Internet and received only one dollar payment for a total of 50 predictions and five dollars bonus if more than 65 percent of the predictions were correct. It is amazing how naively state organizations and parts of our society rely on big data and spend expensive money on useless algorithms that they do not yet understand. We always find this in our research: Less is often more. How many times was the program wrong? In 35 percent of cases. It is tragic when someone's life is destroyed just because others trust blindly in a commercial algorithm. States and companies invest billions in the development of such computer programs. Is this money thrown out? The artificial intelligence is overrated. It works in games like chess or go, or other well-defined situations. But with predictions in the real world, where there are uncertainties, things are different. I recall "Google Flu Trends," a program that Google used to predict the spread of influenza. The program was announced in 2009 with fanfare, but the predictions have failed, and the program was finally buried quietly. We are in the process of investing billions in digital technology. However, we should invest just as much in digital education so that people understand what algorithms really can and can not do. We should not just watch how they are used to change our psyche and social life. We should again take the remote control for our lives in the hand. The interview was conducted by Heike Jahberg.

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