BY JASMIN AMBIONG
This article explores both the benefits and potential drawbacks of AI in the PWD community. Listen to the audio version at the following link to learn more about this important issue:
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Since the rollout of ChatGPT by OpenAI in November 2022, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has been making noise all over the internet. Big companies are competing with each other in releasing new AI Tools. Different predictions are being made on how it will impact our lives. Have you ever wondered how this would affect the community of persons with disabilities? Particularly when it comes to employment, privacy, and algorithm bias. Let’s talk about that in this article.
AI and its Benefits
AI is a branch of computer science that deals with building smart machines capable of performing tasks that commonly require human intelligence. It has been around for many years, and fear and excitement have always been associated whenever AI is being talked about. It is exciting what it can do to improve workforce productivity and the quality of life, especially for people with disabilities and the aging population. Like the smart speakers; Alexa and Google Home. They serve as assistive devices for people with physical disabilities to manage their own homes by just using voice commands. These smart speakers can also be a useful reminder tool for the aging population. AI applications are also a great help for people with vision impairment when doing tasks that require sight, such as direction navigation and reading documents, labels, bills, and menus.
AI is also a good productivity tool for work. It is the current revolution that we’re seeing around the web. It can create market research and marketing strategies, build websites, generate social media content, assist with email responses, create complex spreadsheet data, and automate customer representatives. With a simple prompt, it can also produce realistic images and generate songs sung by well-known artists who never collaborated in real life. There are even talks around the web about AI replacing psychologists, hiring managers, and lawyers. While all of these things may sound amazing, the fact remains that there will be consequences, and it can be scary to think about.
AI and its Consequences
Concerns about possible job losses, privacy breaches, and algorithm bias are prevalent whenever topics about AI are brought up. The World Economic Forum, in its Future of Jobs report, predicted that AI will replace 85 million jobs by 2025 and will create 97 million new ones. Persons with disabilities have already been struggling with employment even before AI; with that 85 million job loss prediction, how many of them are going to be PWDs? Also, it is a fact that many people with disabilities don’t have access to new technologies. Is the community ready for the new 97 million jobs that will be created?
With the issue around privacy, the community of persons with disabilities is one of the groups greatly impacted. Like the examples given above, people with physical disabilities rely on smart speakers to manage their homes, and people with vision impairment use AI applications for tasks that require sight. For them, it is not a choice of luxury but a choice between their privacy and independence.
The algorithm bias can also be scary to think about. Conscious and unconscious biases have surrounded the PWD community. These biases will lead to even more discrimination against the PWD community if left unchecked, mostly regarding hiring, legal decisions, and medical and psychological diagnoses. Ensuring different groups’ voices in AI development is important to prevent algorithm bias. This is why advocacy groups like Women in AI Ethics exist. It is a group with a global initiative to increase the representation of women and marginalized groups, including people with disabilities, in AI tech.
Over the coming months, the world will see more AI integration into our daily lives. While the changes it will cause will be revolutionary, we need to ensure that no one will be left behind. It is a technology, and like any that came before it, people must learn how to use it to utilize its potential fully. Therefore, governments and large private entities must ensure that everyone, including people with disabilities, is educated about and has access to AI. Stricter regulations regarding algorithm bias and privacy should also be implemented to ensure that no one will be even more marginalized by this new technology.
The uncertainty of the future is scary, but we cannot deny that AI is here to stay. Some predictions say that AI will not take away jobs from people; instead, it will take away jobs from people who don’t know how to use it. That’s why we have to learn how to adapt to it. The best thing we can do about it is to advocate for a more inclusive, secure, and unbiased AI.
About the Author: Jasmin Ambiong, Partnership Development Manager APAC for Billion Strong Jasmin has a degree in Business Administration – Management Information System. She said that telework was never one of her plans. Not even to work in the disability inclusion or accessibility industry. Her dream has always been to work in the corporate world and has a successful corporate career. However, life has a better and different plan for her.