Artificial Intelligence Owes You an Explanation

When an A.I. does something, you should be able to ask, “Why?”

By John Weaver

As published on Slate.com (May 2017)

My family has grown very attached to our Amazon Echo, particularly for music. We can access Prime Music by asking Alexa for an artist, song, or station. Even my young kids can navigate the verbal interface to request “Can’t Fight the Feeling” from the movie Trolls or the soundtrack to the musical Hamilton.

As part of the smart speaker’s artificial intelligence, the program picks up on our tastes and preferences, so when we simply say “Alexa, play,” the device will queue up suggested tracks. In theory, what it picks should have some obvious relationship to music we chose ourselves. And songs it selects usually do. Usually.

But recently, Alexa considered our diet of kids’ music, show tunes, the Beatles, the Rat Pack, and Pink Martini, and decided to cue up … Sir Mix-a-Lot.

To read the full article on Slate.com, click here.

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