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'60 Leaders' is an initiative that brings together diverse views from global thought leaders on a series of topics – from innovation and artificial intelligence to social media and democracy. It is created and distributed on principles of open collaboration and knowledge sharing. Created by many, offered to all.


'60 Leaders on Artificial Intelligence' brings together unique insights on the topic of Artificial Intelligence - from the latest technical advances to ethical concerns and risks for humanity. The book is organized into 17 chapters - each addressing one question through multiple answers reflecting a variety of backgrounds and standpoints. Learn how AI is changing how businesses operate, how products are built, and how companies should adapt to the new reality. Understand the risks of AI and what should be done to protect individuals and humanity. View the leaders. 

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'60 Leaders on Innovation' is the book that brings together unique insights and ‘practical wisdom’ on innovation. The book is organized into 22 chapters, each presenting one question and multiple answers from 60 global leaders. Learn how innovative companies operate and how to adopt effective innovation strategies. Understand how innovation and experimentation methods blend with agile product development. Get insights from the experts on the role of the C-Suite for innovation. Discover ways that Innovation can help humanity solve big problems like climate change.

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How could Democracy benefit from AI?

Joseph Yun


If you have not watched ‘The Social Dilemma’, I would suggest you consider allocating some time to do so. In this documentary, they talk about how social media companies boost exposure to content that gets the most engagement because this kind of content sells more digital advertising. The (un)intended consequence is that individuals see more and more extreme content on their social media feeds since this happens to be the type of content that drives the most engagement. Given that this content is individually personalized to each user, the downstream effect is that users are served increasingly extreme content that confirms their natural biases (exposed by their profiles and the type of content they engage with). Play this model out long enough and you have a society filled with individuals that have views of ‘personalized reality’ that are extremely different than one another. Does this sound familiar?

Extreme views and divided societies have existed long before the Internet. What did not exist until the last couple of decades is the increasing use of AI-based algorithms that hyper-personalize the content being served via social media platforms - extreme content that drives engagement and advertisement sales. These AI-based algorithms are essentially playing against themselves – they continue to make the models better and better, which means that ‘personalized realities’ for individuals are becoming more and more extreme and divisive over time.

Many individuals and groups are well aware of this phenomenon and are brainstorming various solutions that come with the realization that the only way we can fight the speed at which AI-based models are being built, is to build competing AI-based models. For most AI-based algorithms, the builder must define either a target or goal (reward function) that the algorithm is trying to optimize. In our current state of social media business models, that target is ad revenue and the winning strategy is serving more personalized and extreme content. Some of us are suggesting that a healthier target for democracy could be a ‘movement towards common ground’ with a strategy that has not been defined by AI yet because we have not tried to tune the models to aim for this state. While there are questions as to how we can measure this ‘movement towards a common ground’ and how this could be a profitable business model for a social media company, there is a clear need for such a shift: one could just look at various regions of our country and immediately see that things are trending toward destabilization that makes it difficult for businesses to even operate.

To avoid this situation, people must come closer together in consensus on various matters. The goal is not assimilation or brainwashing, but rather, enough consensus so that diverse people with a plurality of views/backgrounds can live prosperously and peacefully.

AI has been a part of breaking this democracy apart, thus now we need to consider ways to bring it back together. If we start to go down this path of building models that drive consensus amongst people within a diverse society, we can start to use those models to assess the content and laws being produced/sponsored/supported by politicians. This could be immensely helpful to individuals who, instead of simply voting according to a party line, are willing to vote for those politicians who bring people together rather than driving them further apart.

We could use the growing body of work focused on making AI algorithms more transparent and explainable to gain AI-based knowledge on what kind of things in society build consensus versus division. We could use these findings to be more informed when speaking about the strengths and weaknesses of the society that we live in. We could also develop AI-based models for ‘consensus building’ from data that is sourced from other countries and cultures, thus giving us a better picture of how we can relate with those that sit outside of our geographic borders.

Does this sound like too wishful of thinking? If so, let me ask you one question: Do you feel comfortable watching our society and democracy continue to be fueled by AI algorithms that are essentially built to promote extreme and even violent views and perspectives?

"AI has been a part of breaking this democracy apart, thus now we need to consider ways to bring it back together."

Joseph Yun is an AI Architect and Research Professor in Electrical and Computer Engineering research. He is primarily focused on novel data science algorithms, user-centric analytics systems, and societal considerations of AI-based advertising and marketing. Yun is the founder of the Social Media Macroscope, which is an open research environment for social media analytics.


Joseph Yun

"We could develop AI-based models for ‘consensus building’."

AI Architect and Research Professor in Electrical & Computer Engineering




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