Alex Dodenhoff is a Charleston, SC native with a curiosity for understanding how policy choices in technology, real estate, and labor affect our cost of living and privacy autonomy. Over his time at Duke, he has studied Public Policy, Economics, and business under the Markets and Management Certificate. While not studying, Alex can be found on stage performing with his comedy club, Inside Joke. While Alex has previously worked in economic consulting, he intends to trek a new professional path. His interests in technology policy culminated in his thesis which considers the discourse concerning AI in the US.
Examining Public Discourse of AI in the United States
Faculty Advisor: Professor Kenneth S. Rogerson
Abstract: While the industrial revolution of the 19th century was forwarded by private entities vying for faster, more efficient processes, the AI revolution is marked by its potential to disrupt a wider array of societal constructions. In much the same way the industrial revolution transformed—rather than trimmed the potential of—society, AI is likely to alter civilization significantly. ). In the years leading up to the 2016 study, researchers found steady increases in sentiments most firmly characterized as skeptical, with the general public fearful of lost control over AI as well as AI’s potential to disrupt the workforce. While this rhetoric characterizes discourse over recent years, generally positive sentiments towards the potential of AI in revolutionizing healthcare and education have accelerated in recent years. This development prohibits the description of public perception of AI from being categorically positive or negative. This thesis endeavored to compare the rhetoric concerning AI by three key stakeholders: experts, business leaders, and policymakers. Ideological rifts, competing conceptualizations of AI’s effect on society, and level of optimism over its effects are contrasted. While experts tend to possess a more fatalistic view, policymakers and business leaders are preoccupied with the implementation of AI in business and agency practices. Parallels between discourse surrounding AI and climate change as well as nuclear warfare potential are drawn and discussed.