Surge Pricing, AI and responsibility

Dominic Widdows writes:

I learned more about surge algorithms at Grab, partly because pricing and discounts were closely related to my work launching GrabShare. As data scientists and engineers, we had a duty to help make pricing equitable for passengers and drivers. Topics included nonlinear surge, geographic smoothing, time-of-day buckets, price elasticity, featurization, and machine learning. None of these are silver-bullets — they are tools in a system that also includes many human-oversight safeguards. These safeguards include basics, like hard limits on surge price multiples — these vary from city to city….Equitable pricing isn’t just applying a known set of rules, it’s a practice of thoughtful and watchful diligence. This is increasingly crucial in AI where it is everyone’s responsibility to anticipate and prevent unintended consequences.

This write up is important because it discusses the ways AI’s harms can be mitigated.

Here’s another insight:

A typical example — of course we had the idea of using destination as a feature for predicting an acceptable surge price. This came up as a suggestion so many times that a hypothetical “hospital example” became a repeated reminder — we would never build a system that might “learn” that people whose destination is a hospital tend to be willing to pay higher fares. The claim that “nobody really understands how AI systems make individual decisions” would be a lie to hide behind: when we properly stop and think when adding a new feature to a machine learning algorithm, we can normally come up with hypotheses to test quite easily, including bad outcomes that must be prevented.

(Emphasis mine)

There is a distinct possibility that healthcare chains might shift towards the idea of surge pricing in the future to augment the services (including mechanism for self triage). The idea of triage came in from there- to address the acute life threatening emergencies first and then deal with the sniffles later. However, almost all clinicians can draw their experiences from the chaotic emergency ward- situations can change dramatically in a matter of seconds.

I’d leave the ideas here and won’t elaborate; but suffice to say that ethics is slowly gaining mainstream. Ethical constructs are not similar to what’s paraded in the mainstream media but instead be able to make consciable choices- first do no harm.