In the Nordic countries, the public debate about artificial intelligence has been going on for a long time. Now, new research from Denmark shows that the actual meaning of AI is still unclear.
In the same way as in many other places in the Nordics, the digital agenda in Denmark has been characterised by various public strategies with a focus on developing ethical guidelines for the implementation of artificial intelligence (AI) in society.
A study, published in the scholarly journal Nordicom Review earlier this year, examines how Danish media have portrayed AI since the mid-1950s. The study is based on 253 newspaper articles published between 1956 and 2021.
Ambiguous debate about AI
The analysis shows that the papers tend to not differentiate between future descriptions of AI – where machines are assumed to be able to achieve the same intelligence as humans and take over some of our jobs – and so-called intelligence augmentation (IA), which is based on combining the strengths of machines and humans and letting technology augment human intelligence.
The study concludes that it is rather the principles of IA that are reflected in Danish AI strategies, and that the actual meaning of AI is left relatively vague.
– The public debate about AI in Danish newspapers is characterised by an ambiguity when it comes to what is actually meant by “AI”, its planned use, and the possible impact on society, says Sne Scott Hansen, PhD student at the University of Copenhagen and author behind the study.
Language is very important
The study shows the importance of language in shaping the public’s perception of AI, and by extension, also the strategies and practical action plans that are developed.
– Language can be a powerful tool in constructing people’s different ideas about AI, which in the long run also shape the practical solutions for AI that we see in society, says Sne Scott Hansen.
Public AI imaginaries: How the debate on artificial intelligence was covered in Danish newspapers and magazines 1956–2021
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