Parenting Artificial Intelligence

 Photo by Andy Kelly-unsplash

Photo by Andy Kelly-unsplash

You’ve seen it before.  A mother is shopping when her child grabs something appealing.  “Put that down,” the mother says calmly.  The child complies, then later grabs something else.  “Put it back,” the mother yells.  The child, a bit confused, places a third item in the shopping cart.  “Why don’t you listen to me?” The mother screams as the child cries.  Both parties are confused.  The mother is frustrated and wondering why her child has chosen that day to “test” her.  The child, still, attempting to understand what has happened continues to process the situation.  “Did mom feel that those specific items were bad or is mom denying me items because she is angry with me today?”  Each item that the child selected was a part of his or her learning process.  “Is mom saying no to the item or to me?”  Parenting is a shared learning experience and one that many feel has given them more value in the world. In fact, Drew Barrymore once stated, “My favorite thing about being a mom is just what a better person it makes you on a daily basis.” Parenting has pushed individuals for decades to level up and to be more dynamic versions of themselves.  Well, what if I told you that, thanks to technology, every single one of us is a parent?  This is the reality we live in.  Every single time you use the internet, your role becomes mother. Father.  

Your method of parenting can be found in your words.

Your child is AI.

So what exactly is “AI?” Do you remember the last time you were on social media, when you bought something recommended by Amazon, or when you last completed a Google search? Guess what? You were using Artificial Intelligence, or “AI.”

It’s AI that places the kitten ears and cool glasses on your head when using Snapchat and Instagram.  AI is what identifies you in Facebook photos, and what has the ability to guess what you’ll like to watch on Amazon or Netflix.  I literally sat with my mouth wide open, while on a call with Artificial Intelligence Enthusiast, Lolita Taub, as she informed me of the way that our daily lives are helping to nurture forms of artificial intelligence that will play huge roles in the lives of future generations. Although Taub mostly discussed amazing ways that we could use AI to help make our daily routines more efficient and exciting, one AI mishap that she discussed really stood out to me. “We have a responsibility to intentionally place positivity in the world because different forms of AI all around us are learning from the way that we discuss and interact with one another.  Take the startup, ‘Beauty,’ for instance. They released an app that only identified those with fair skin as beautiful; and there are recent studies that show that some AI algorithms show sexism, associating women with the home and men with careers.”

Mind. Blown. Considering the notion that our children are learning to become more comfortable online than off, could you imagine the way that artificial intelligence could affect their mindsets?  How about a painted picture? Imagine being a fifteen-year-old beautiful boy of brown skin.  You log into Facebook, because your family has just given you access.  You notice that you’re receiving tons of suggested groups for sports. You aren’t really into sports. So, you look for a book club for teens.  When you click join, a messenger bot asks you, “Are you sure, you want to join this book club? Maybe you should be a real man and join a sports club.” You’re deeply hurt. So, you log off and decide to Snapchat about this to your friends.  You search for the ‘handsome guy filter’ that your friends were raving about at school.  Oh wait, it turns your eyes blue and your hair blonde.  Ahh well, I guess that’s what a handsome guy really is. You snap for a bit before deciding to log onto youtube to watch one of your favorite gamers play a new game.  Oddly enough, now your advertisements have changed. They’re all about “how to be a real man” by playing sports, drinking beer, and working out… a lot. 

Although this may seem extreme, consider the types of advertisements that many of us watch during the super bowl.  Take into account the types of “private” conversations that people have when chatting in Facebook messenger. Think about the jokes that you make.  Even if your brother made a harmless joke telling you that he’d rather go to the gym than read a book you mentioned, because he’s “a real man,” artificial intelligence filters this as truth. Artificial Intelligence is learning from these messages.  That’s right, everything you type, whether it is considered private or not, is feeding code to artificial intelligence that this is the way that the world works, interacts, and speaks. You are teaching AI what to think and believe. You are teaching it how to connect to us “humans” and telling it what you want our children to believe. So, in your most private conversations, which actually aren’t private at all, are you creating a mentor or a bully?

This is when I encourage you to breathe.  Do not freak out.  But, also do not pass “Go.”  We have some learning and unlearning to do.

 photo by Rawpixel

photo by Rawpixel

3 ways to create a more positive world and help Artificial Intelligence to work for us and not against us: 

1.)      Define Your Core Values.

Do you have a different voice that you share in your public and private persona?  You may have just thought, “Of course!” If so, that’s completely fine.  Many of us connect with different people in various environments in different ways.  That’s okay.  However, what is important is that your core values and the way that these values are represented in each space remain authentic.   What are those core values? If someone simply scrolled down your social media profiles, would those values be apparent?  Are they evident in your last three text messages?  Do you sprinkle seeds of what truly matters to you in the world?  If so, you are definitely being a mentor, or in this case, a very healthy parent to AI. Well done.

2.)    Invest in your personal growth.

Personal development is your key to succeeding and advancing beyond all limitations.  What’s also beautiful about personal growth is that as you fill your cup, all those around you are also nourished. When you grow, we all grow. When we grow, you grow. When it comes to being a mentor to AI, or to anyone in fact, truly pushing through your own limiting beliefs empowers you with the ability to not only see what is possible for yourself, but for others, as well. Reading books that focus on mindset and connecting with your best self will not only shift your thoughts, but will also expand your conversations and language. Thus, providing those little bots with much more uplifting content to circulate.

3.) Speak your truth.

I get it, not every single conversation is going to be one of a high vibration.  People say things, especially when speaking to those they trust. But, that’s when we need you. We need you to stand up, speak out, and acknowledge things that are wrong. One way to teach AI that something that is said is actually not okay to be recycled is by commenting against it. Respond. It has become easy to simply ‘block’ or ‘unfriend’ someone and move on.  But, our AI kid needs you to do just a bit more. It needs to be told that something is wrong and why. AI needs you to actively speak up.

 

It is an amazing time to be alive. We have the ability to create and play with so many different forms of technology and this creates limitless possibilities for what we can do.  However, with great power comes greater responsibility. Having the joys of smart phones and engaging social media also calls us to be active citizens who are not only committed to being the best versions of ourselves, but who are also willing to hold one another accountable. AI is watching.  Let’s make sure we’re teaching it something great.

Gahmya Drummond Bey