AI compass towards well-being

January 14, 2021

By Marek Havrda 

GoodAI’s AI Policy & Social Impact Director, Marek Havrda, recently took part in the AI & Happiness Roundtable. In this blog, he summarizes some of his thoughts from the meeting.

Covid-19 has provided a “Sputnik Moment” not only in terms of our technical and organizational preparedness to deal with large impact situations, but maybe even more importantly in terms of values.

Image credit: The Happiness Roundtable

When expressed in monetary terms, McKisney found that the pandemic’s negative impact on well-being was more than 3 times the losses in GDP. The calculation was based on the amount of money people would need to be given to offset the perceived decline in happiness. The main contributing factor was reduced satisfaction with relationships, the report states that ”in the United Kingdom, nearly a quarter of people in April 2020 said that the crisis was negatively affecting their relationships.”

The well-being lens might guide our reflection on values. To build on a well-being approach also means dealing with many uncertainties and trade-offs. Artificial Intelligence could help us develop and assess scenarios in terms of their potential to increase well-being and also alert us to various trade-offs. 

I suggest we start with scenarios of automation. To-date the main driver of automation has been economics. The aim would be to focus public investments in research and innovation towards automating tasks with the highest potential impact on well-being including its sustainability dimension.

Also directly related to automation, the scenarios could help guide publicly financed job creation and related parts of fiscal stimulus packages. The goal would be to align concrete upskilling efforts with the expected impact on the well-being of employees.  

Such AI-powered scenarios would allow us to discuss potential futures, their impacts, and related probabilities. This approach would also significantly increase our quantitative decision-making ability. Our communities and their leaders would become empowered to discuss expected benefits as well as costs of today’s actions.

Full recommendations from the roundtable can be found online here.

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