GesellschaftAlessandro Polidoro

Alessandro Polidoro

Attorney at law, Digital Rights Advocate und ICT Legal Consultant

The profound changes that our society is undergoing find part of their roots in the digital revolution. Indeed, this transformation is particularly evident in the history of information technology, for instance in the concerted effort to develop computers capable of replicating human intellect, whose first steps trace all the way back to 1956 with the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence.

Ironically, as we have learned how to create machines that seem to emulate human thinking (a development exemplified by Large Language Models) it almost feels like, at the same time, the growing pervasiveness of computer-mediated activities has led some people to think more and more like machines.

To be clear, I firmly believe that digital technology has provided humanity with extraordinary tools, first and foremost the Internet. These machines are not only powerful but also possess their unique beauty. However, the adage “technology is not neutral” rings particularly true here, emphasizing that the historical context in which technologies are developed and deployed significantly influences their impact.

In this regard, a concerning trend nowadays is the diminishing societal value placed on crucial elements of human intellect such as creativity and critical thinking. Once considered fundamental, these aspects are now often relegated to the status of “soft skills”, struggling for recognition in our productivity-driven society. This shift might be, in part, a consequence of significant reductions in public education investment and overall social welfare, which have narrowed the avenues for cultivating these vital intellectual capabilities and explore our consciousness.

When I contemplate the development of an “intelligent future”, therefore, I increasingly realize the importance of starting with our need for an intelligent present and more accessible tools. The most commonly used software and hardware have typically been created in closed environments, rather than open and collaborative spaces. The Internet we were promised, once heralded as a beacon of connectivity and self-expression, has unfortunately evolved into a tool for global-scale surveillance and disinformation. Artificial intelligence, too, is being perceived as a potential replacement for human roles in various sectors, rather than as a means to empower and enhance lives.

I believe the solution to these challenges lies in carefully determining who controls these new and powerful tools. There is an intrinsic danger in allowing the research, development and governance of these technologies to remain in the hands of tech-giants and power conglomerates primarily driven by profit and control. We should not let machines become the mediators of our life activities. Instead, we should ensure that everyone has the opportunity to understand how these machines work, how they are built, and to have a say in the ethical dimensions of this innovation.

In a time marked by polycrisis – climate emergencies, rising economic inequality, unstable democracies, global health threats and wars – the potential of artificial intelligence presents a unique opportunity. Let’s embrace its potential together and put all humans at the center of our new intelligent future. This approach will be possible only through a holistic vision that integrates technological advancements with a deep commitment to ethical, inclusive and sustainable practices.

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human ist das Leitmedium für strategische Entscheider:innen und alle, die mit KI arbeiten und leben werden. Wir stellen den Menschen in den Mittelpunkt. Für eine lebenswerte Zukunft aller.

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