Letter: Anthropomorphic terms do not help explain AI

I have a similar irritation to your letter-writer Michael Ayres (“Why the term Big Tech usually makes me cringe”, Letters, January 19), with the use of the term artificial intelligence. AI is not a “person”, it is not “artificial”, it is not “intelligent”, it is not “an AI” — as it is often referred to. It is software, made by people for reasons of their own, usually involving money. I appreciate the need for a shorthand term to describe this broad field, which in essence merges computer science and large data sets, but I often question the motives of the scientists, companies, social scientists, even journalists who propagate this anthropomorphic way of talking about technology (sorry Michael!).

In my view, it is not in the public interest to do so. However, I find it curiously helpful when I see the term AI to replace it with the word “software”.

It is surprising how much less glamorous AI seems — and more accountable — if you have the image of the person who actually created it in your mind.

Hilary Sutcliffe
Director, Society Inside; and Advisory Board, Carnegie Council on AI and Equality, London SE21, UK

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