Select Page


A short thought piece originally posted on LinkedIn

by Eliot Mannoia // October 8, 2023
reading time: 2 minutes

Tools such as a wrench and screws etc., seen from above.

© Miguel à Padrinan

A short thought piece originally posted on LinkedIn.

Recently I heard AI being referred to as a tool as rudimentary as a hammer ?
AI algorithms have the subtle yet powerful ability to shift behaviours, moods, even mindsets.
Alone social media feeds have affected teenagers, swayed political opinions and contributed to polarised nations ⚖
Then we have the influence of auto-complete suggestions for writing and search, recommendation engines, digital nudging in ecommerce, personalised experiences, echo chambers, credit score evaluation – and often determination ⛔
The impact is great, especially if you factor in gender, racial, age and other biases. And the fact that the complexities of most models are so great that they are often not fully understood, even by the people who built them ?
We also have Replika, for example, an AI powered chatbot companion with 10+ million downloads. Here people, mostly young people, are chatting on their phones with a virtual friend ?
Historian and philosopher Yuval Noah Harari argues that AI has now hacked the operating system of human civilisation. As content and story-telling influences, affects and shapes our cultures ?
I therefore strongly believe that viewing AI as simply a tool is reductionist and inaccurate.
One also needs to consider the trajectory. Currently some aspects of AI may seem more like a tool, but what about in the future as AI becomes more autonomous? Perhaps like parents that are responsible for the actions of their children, the influence decreases with maturity.

If we have us humans on one side of a continuum, and “basic” technology on the other side like the desktop, the fax machine etc. (which can safely be seen as tools), then I believe AI lies somewhere in between.
Perhaps AI is a bridge between basic technology and humans? ?
The perspective of AI as a bridge between basic technology and humans is a compelling one.
It highlights the idea that AI serves as a connecting point between our capabilities as humans and the potential of advanced technology. It can enhance and extend our abilities while also posing unique challenges and ethical considerations ❤️

This view underscores the need for a thoughtful and human-centered approach when integrating AI into various aspects of our lives and work.

Image by Her Annapurna Pictures

© her (annapurna pictures)

A user comment on LinkedIn:

I think that currently large language models (which people are currently calling “AI”) are very definitely in the “dumb tool” bracket at the moment. We’re moving incredibly fast, and I’m excited to see where it goes.

For me the most important point that arises from how we think about these models is: Who is responsible?
At the moment, they are by far and away not able to take responsibility themselves, and that means they are tools for us to use. And we must take responsibility for the results.

The 1979 IMB quote still holds: “A computer can never be held accountable, therefore a computer must never make a management decision.”

My response

Great points Adam! Yes, lots of decision trees still ?

I like how you emphasise the importance of human responsibility when using AI. It’s a valid point that these systems require human oversight and accountability.

In essence, I believe AI can be seen as both a tool and something more. It’s a tool in the sense that humans control and deploy it, and they must take responsibility for its outcomes. It’s also more than a tool because of its capacity to affect human behaviour and society, which goes beyond what traditional tools can do.

If we look at social media algorithms I would question how much they’re being purposefully controlled and how much their creators truly understand them (“black boxes”). And in the case of Meta, where a Wall Street Journal article highlighted that Instagram was aware that their feeds were making young women depressed I don’t see enough responsibility being taken.

As you rightly said, a computer should not ultimately be accountable so we need to be cautious with letting systems run freely.

I am excited about all the possibilities! ?

These are some of the questions that the field digital psychology and we as digital psychologists find fascinating and that keep our heads smoking!

What is your opinion? What are your thoughts? ?

#brandkarma #digitalpsychologist #emotionalintelligence #linkedin #psychology