Recognising the importance of preference change: A call for a coordinated multidisciplinary research effort in the age of AI

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As artificial intelligence becomes more powerful and a ubiquitous presence in daily life, it is imperative to understand and manage the impact of AI systems on our lives and decisions. Modern ML systems often change user behavior (e.g. personalized recommender systems learn user preferences to deliver recommendations that change online behavior). An externality of behavior change is preference change. This article argues for the establishment of a multidisciplinary endeavor focused on understanding how AI systems change preference: Preference Science. We operationalize preference to incorporate concepts from various disciplines, outlining the importance of meta-preferences and preference-change preferences, and proposing a preliminary framework for how preferences change. We draw a distinction between preference change, permissible preference change, and outright preference manipulation. A diversity of disciplines contribute unique insights to this framework.

Ryan Watkins