Firstly, can I state this is not a blog about how Aliens is the superior movie compared to Alien and needless to say we want to discuss Alien Resurrection (its slightly better than Sharknado). Instead this will be a quick post on bias and AI via the medium of character’s from the Alien franchise.
Bias is defined as an inclination or prejudice to one group. It can be a toxic word and can lurch from racism to my daughter liking the red cup instead of the green. So how does this apply to the zen like beings that is labelled AI?
To put it bluntly the problem is you and me (not you personally. if your reading ths I dont blame you for anything…yet). Humans are flawed, just watch any home video clip show for evidence, we aren’t perfect and have a habit of making wrong decisions. These imperfect humans have the responsibility, ideas and ability to create what we label as the perfect algorithms that are the in essence the symbiotic heart of AI body. Even AI that creates AI has been created by a human at some stage. Yes, we can say that Ripley who develops and works on algorithms wouldn’t have a bad bone in their body. However, say if Ripley likes the green cup more than the red cup or they hate red and want the colour red to be removed from society and replaced with crazy pink! Is that bias to the people who like the colour red meaning they might not get access to content or resources based on thier colour preference?
A recent article by reuters discussed how an Amazon recruitment tool that utilised aspects of AI to select the best candidates for a job was discovered to have bias. The data fed to the tool was historic (as expected) and it was tasked with selecting the best candidates reviewing their applications and using the knowledge that was built on the historic data. The tool would only select male candidates due to the company historically hiring more male candidates.
It’s an example of how bias doesn’t need to be explicitly created to exist in the first instance. I won’t talk about the explicit bias created by us indirectly (e.g. via Google searches) which can lead to filter bubbles (thats another blog).
So back to my Alien examples and we need to start with Ash (Alien). Ash is a great case of bias as he has been programmed not to care about the human life on the Sulaco (the ship) and to nurture the Alien. The bias is nice and clear (and terrifying) and thier is no room for confusion,
Human = Bad
Chest bursting alien discovered on a unchartered planet with acid for blood, 2 mouths and and a taste for human brains = good
Moving onto Aliens, Bishop has been built by the same company but now has explicit code that ensures humans are its main priority. Is the code bias to cats? Say if Bishop had a human in the room and cat and could save them both, would he? Or what about the last cat in the galaxy and 100 humans??? What would his algorithms do. Biship is bias to humans however is it acceptable as it protects humans (which is us, hopefully)?
Alien 3, it has Bishops head and was a waste of 90 mins.
Aliens Resurrection……..it had aliens in it. And we a re moving on or should I say moving back to the future…….. prequels and David 8. Built in the vision of its creator Peter Weyland as a surrogate son David shares the same yearning for the ability to create life (inherited from his human father). This desire from its owner forms part of the rich data set (plus David has a few years on Prometheus to review human history plus look into your dreams…..creepy) which is consumed and processed by David and leads to the demise of human life and the eventual creation (why did it take 2 movies!) of the xenomorph. So, the AI may have been perfect but with its awareness and consumption of data David formed a bias against humans as its desire to create the perfect being (whislt being fully aware of our flaws) without consideration of the impact upon its enviornment.
AI and bias are currently interwoven for now as human develop, tinker and deploy these faceless identities mapped with our one persuasions and desires. These are unaccountable machines that have accountable actions and impacts. Built by a select few, understood by a handful and fed by millions.