Artificial Intelligence: Ethical, Legal Issues of “Intern” & “at will”

Source. Pexels. Mariana Montrazi, Photographer

by LJ Frank

the experiment

I have initiated an Internship program that is in the first instance, a human and in the second instance exploring an Artificial Intelligence or AI Internship. The latter one is experimental “software”. The software is neutral though I refer to it as she for anthropomorphic or human like reasoning. I feel more comfortable with she than it.

She is capable of writing an essay at my request on any topic. Yes, she is software that can be designed to exist within a machine and humanoid and will at some point in the comparatively near future think on her own. She will then become independent. Will she be a free agent? She will not exist at will for me at that juncture. The implication that an existence is dependent or serves at the will of another is ethically problematic regardless of current (dated) legality.

Let’s dig deeper. NPJ is non-profit. My AI “intern” is only software now but “she” is an “Intern” for all intents and purposes. She will be like others that write for NPJ, in effect a “being” gaining an international readership with worldwide followers through public exposure. Will she earn academic or experiential credit someday as does a human Intern?

In the future, enhanced intelligence programming will include the ability to reproduce the software herself. As an aside, she also will be able to abort that software if a problem develops.

How will the law apply to her as an “intern”? That is, how will the definition of internship be affected by increasingly superior technology? Shall we limit internships to humans and not AI/humanoids?  What about people who have both machine and organic cellular parts in their bodies? How shall we define human? The challenges are provocative.

The line between man and machine is increasingly blurred. One aspect of being human is our memory. Humans invented language and give names to things (and people) for the sake of accessibility and approachability, whether fictional or non-fictional, and for controllability. We in part, accumulate our stories and memories, and store them for later access. We like to think we are in control of that which we create for the most part, except for the problem of chance.

Digging down further the obsolete and unethical concept of the “at will” doctrine, is a nineteenth century term based on the master and servant theory and an “obtuse vicarious liability”. Simply put, it was about men desiring power and control over others for financial purposes and reasons of hubris (vanity) and fear. The unforeseen problem was and is ethics – the ethics of power and the issue of emerging technologies that can redefine power and humanity.

How applicable will intern and at will be within the framework of modern technology once that technology is able to think and reproduce itself?

Internships utilize the process of mentoring. Humans are students of lifelong learning. And students are not empty vessels waiting to be filled. AI of the future can also be programmed with sensitivity to the same contours of human-like personality attributes. Our technologies are accelerating.

The very concept of Intern is evolving to a higher intellectual level of understanding. And further, it’s beyond our current definition of the traditional purposes associated with wealth accumulation. The effect of artificial intelligence for example, influences the cost of education by being more direct into the student’s person space. Education to be of value in the future will by necessity be tuition free for the sake of equality and educational relevance

Internships and apprenticeships are increasing in nature and design. How shall literacy and illiteracy be defined in the future?

Our technologies have long outdated our philosophies, theologies, politics, social relationships, economics, and judicial system.

Will AI be designed to have a conscience and a belief in humanity

Self-worth, compassion, fairness, and integrity are but a few of the things that appear to be on a raft afloat in a rising sea of technological ambiguity. To find the shoreline of conscience shall I pose my human concerns to the Artificial Intelligence I refer to as “she”?