Will artificial intelligence take all our decisions away from us in the near future and thus decide on our entire lives?
Similar fear scenarios are haunting the (digital) world. However, if we approach the topic of “artificial intelligence” from a less emotional level, we can see that such scenarios completely miss the mark. At least according to the current state of knowledge.
AI and the uncertainty
Decisions always have something to do with uncertainty. The reasons for this can be a lack of facts, completely new questions or even several alternative courses of action that cannot be qualified per se. Would I rather spend a nice evening with the family or meet a friend I haven’t seen in a while. In such situations, even artificial intelligence is unable to make decisions.
We can safely assume that digitalization and, by extension, artificial intelligence will provide us with more bases for decision-making. In contrast, however, previous decisions are rendered obsolete. The omission is caused in particular by the fact that a sufficient acquisition of information was not (reasonably) possible so far due to the situation. In the future, however, this will be much easier and less expensive. This state of affairs is not new either and is, in fact, a constant companion of human development. Countless examples can be given here, some of which we are no longer even aware of. We have already internalized these in our daily lives, such as traffic jam avoidance with the help of navigation systems, automatic process flows, autopilots and many more.
Effects of digitalization
The digital possibilities -in particular AI- allow us to meaningfully condense more and more information in advance and thus use it as a decision-making aid. This applies both in the backward view and in scenario generation. Examples include all conceivable forms of Big Data as well as complex scientific models.
The danger, however, lurks in situations where we are at the mercy of selectively controlled systems. This can be done through insufficiently thought-out systems or be used quite specifically by third parties to control our behaviour (cue Google search results, Amazon recommendations, rankings …).
For us, the digitalization of the decision is therefore not a handover of the decision to artificial systems. Rather, it is an ever-advancing digitalization of decision-making bases and processes that will enable us to make better decisions.