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Is AI Ethics a distraction or a boon for innovation?

AI is trained by data from all around the world and it carries the biases of our societies and cements it with complete lack of transparency.

Sudha Jamthe is
 a Technology Futurist and CEO of IoTDisruptions 
who mentors business leaders to learn AI And DataScience using No-Code AI, AI Ethics and  Capstone AI labs to solve industry AI problems at Stanford Continuing Studies and online at BusinessSchoolofAI

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AI with all its promise to predict weather, floods, failure of machines and disease before their onset, AI is finding applications in the criminal justice system advising judges who to send to jail, invisible AI in spam filters and auto correct is permeating our daily lives. There is a discussion brewing about AI Ethics and its role in the scaling of Artificial Intelligence in the world of technology loving innovators.

AI is trained by data from all around the world and it carries the biases of our societies and cements it with complete lack of transparency.

So there is a debate brewing about the need to regulate AI to ensure that it does not unfairly affect minorities and people of certain races that are not fairly represented in the rooms where AI is designed. This includes women left behind in hiring algorithms, black people, queer people and disabled people and more. On the other hand there are people in the technology industry who argue about regulation putting the brakes on innovating fast and call for no regulation at all.

The US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Science has called for a Bill of Rights for an AI Powered World in an opinion piece in Wired magazine.


It resonates with me as it articulates the pervasive power of AI and the harmful effects of the bias in AI and real lives of people in affects. They list what could be included in the AI Bill of Rights as:

1. your right to know when and how AI is influencing a decision that affects your civil rights and civil liberties;

2. your freedom from being subjected to AI that hasn’t been carefully audited to ensure that it’s accurate, unbiased, and has been trained on sufficiently representative data sets;

3. your freedom from pervasive or discriminatory surveillance and monitoring in your home, community, and workplace;

4. your right to meaningful recourse if the use of an algorithm harms you.

The US White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) requests input from interested parties on past deployments, proposals, pilots, or trials, and current use of biometric technologies and HR professionals using AI for identity and emotions tracking and inference here. (before 5pm et Jan 15th 2022)

NATO has released their Artificial Intelligence Policy (here). It sets standards of responsible use of AI technologies, in accordance with international law and NATO’s values. This is welcome to ensure that AI used in defence does not turn adversarial by malicious actors.

AI Bias Leaves No Human Behind

When we look closer, AI bias is not limited to marginalized people for anyone to think that it only affects 'the other." AI can be biased against southern accents, or against people wearing a beard or glasses.
I recently hosted a webinar on State of AI Ethics in Autonomous Vehicles at WeeklyWed at Business School of AI and reviewed how Level 3 autonomous vehicles have to transfer control to humans in the case of a disengagement and that means the AI has to interpret if a person is alert or fit to take control, otherwise it is a business liability for the Automaker and AV technology companies. And from an AI ethics, Inclusive AI perspective, to paraphrase AI Ethicist and Cognitive Science Researcher Susanna Raj,"there is no clear construct of what 'able' or 'fit' means " to consistently define what conditions an AI should track to handover control of a vehicle driving at 60 mph among human drivers and passengers to another human. 

Therein lies the answer to our debate about regulation vs. stifling innovation. 

Innovation is needed but not at the cost of human lives. AI Ethics affects all of us in some situation or the other. So we need to embrace regulation with meaningful debate on what is acceptable and right levels and to retain agency of humans amidst the growing autonomy of AI.

Thus we can ensure that AI Ethics is not a distraction so that AI does not become a distraction in a future that works for all of us with all its glorious promise.

Sudha Jamthe is a Technology Futurist and teaches AI and AI ethics at Stanford Continuing Studies and Business School of AI. Her aspiration is to guide diverse professionals to build AI towards an equitable limitless world.


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