The deployment of artificial intelligence and technology today is sometimes accompanied by a general – public, academic, corporate… – discourse about the necessity for it to be “good”, “human-centred”, “ethical”, “sustainable”, “universal”, etc. Information Technology has become euformation technology, from the Greek prefix eu (good, beneficial, pleasant, true): machines need not only to perform but also to be well-intentioned and deliver a “better society”.
However, humanity has never – and today less than ever – reached a consensus on what constitutes a good life. So how could we code the good life into our anthrobots? Should we have right-wing or leftist AI? The discourse about “good AI” must not only be about calming the people’s fears or ubiquitous social control in an anthrobotic era. Ethical committees may be well-intentioned but not always clear-minded regarding “the better society” they might wish to promote.
We know that hell can be paved with good intentions. What if “good AI” turned out to be the worse possible AI, a golden prison of artificial benevolence? What if benevolent and human-centred technology turned out to be, in the long term, nefarious for the prospect of life on earth and the socially-creative disparity of humanity? We should remain critical about universalistic beneficial solutions, and focus more on the notion of deployment.
There is much focus today on development and design, and each day we are presented with fascinating experiments and promises that won’t scale up or be implemented into reality. Deployment, the effectual spread of anthrobotic practices, on-site and “in the wild”, remains understudied, perhaps because it seems to differ on a case-by-case basis. When a complex technology is deployed, it is modified and the world changes along with it.
As we carefully deploy our anthrobotic environments, we need to give up on the anthropocentric bias and see the world as a constant and unsettled process of intertwined deployments, in which global felicity is never certain and perhaps metamorphic.