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Accepted Paper:

Ai frictions in society: what makes AI controversial?  
Chiara Poletti (University of Swansea) Noortje Marres (University of Warwick)

Short abstract:

This study compares AI controversies in the four countries. The analysis identified "friction objects" i.e. sites of demonstrable harm, trouble or contestation, and AI controversialisation logics: linked to AI contextual deployment in specific social environments and on society-wide circulation.

Long abstract:

This paper reports on a comparative study of AI & Society controversies across four countries: the United Kingdom, Canada, France and Germany, all Northern countries whose relationship to AI could be summed up as "not the US or China." Adopting a standpoint approach to controversy analysis, we conducted an online consultation in the four countries with experts in AI & Society, with "experts" defined as "all those with experience of the issue and committed to genuine debate." (Ravetz & Funtowitz, 1997). The consultation responses suggest that many recent AI & society controversies in the selected countries do not fit the classic sociological definition of controversy, in terms of the public staging of expert disagreement. They instead identify "AI frictions," in situ incidents in which an AI-based system, company, or deployment becomes the object of demonstrable harm, trouble or contestation (see Ananny, 2022; Ricci et al, 2022). Another prominent set of responses identified a single, general purpose technology: Large Language Models like ChatGPT. We discuss our analysis of the results, in which we sought to determine degrees of controversiality for different controversies, by mapping topic-friction couplings (Costas et al, 2023). This led us to identify 2 different "logics" for the controversialisation of AI: one focused on the contextual deployment of AI-based systems in specific environments in society, another on the society-wide circulation of general purpose AI. To conclude, we reflect on the extent to which recent AI & society debates reproduce technology-centric definitions of AI.

Traditional Open Panel P231
STS, AI Experiments, and the social good
  Session 1