“It’s much more likely that an asteroid will strike the Earth and annihilate life as we know it than AI will turn evil”, said Oren Etzioni, CEO of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence. But then again, Etzioni also says, “AI is a tool and the choice about how it gets deployed is ours.” In other words, it’s not about AI’s own ethics, but about the ethical use of AI.
Progress versus responsibility – it’s a thin line, but a line that needs to be addressed nonetheless.
AI has revolutionized our lives – the way we communicate, the way we work, the way we live. AI is growing at such a rate that IDC estimates that worldwide spending on AI-centric systems will pass $300 billion by 2026.
Yes, AI can change the world of education, improve employment, and tackle epidemics, but it can also deepen biases and inequalities. It can make education accessible to children in remote areas, help farmers predict storms, and doctors diagnose disease … but let’s look at the other side as well. There are certain legal and ethical issues in artificial intelligence.
The extensive scale of AI deployment and growth brings AI ethical concerns to the fore, specifically the legal and ethical issues in artificial intelligence related to transparency, accountability, fairness, privacy, and intellectual property.
Privacy & accountability in interactions with children
What about ethical considerations of AI pertaining to children? Consider AI-powered toys that talk to children. What questions are the children being asked? And what is happening to the data collected? With every question being answered by the child, there are larger questions of privacy, accountability, and ethics being raised.
Gender & racial biases
What about when you look for an image of a teenage girl? Why do you end up with several sexualized images? And why is it not the same for a male teen? AI systems tend to deliver biased results, reinforcing stereotypes – again, a dangerous trend.
Facial recognition technology has been shown to be biased against people of colour and women. Medical diagnosis algorithms may be biased against certain groups, leading to misdiagnosis and mistreatment.
Autonomous vehicles may be biased in their decision-making, such as in situations where a vehicle must choose between different courses of action – for example, saving the life of a person on the road versus the life of the driver. These are ethical considerations of AI that should be kept in mind.
IP protection and plagiarism
A few years ago, more than three centuries after the renowned artist’s death, “The Next Rembrandt” made waves on the internet, created by a 3D printer using AI. The artwork was created by analyzing 346 Rembrandt paintings pixel by pixel. So, while this project may have been undertaken with the purest of intentions to bring the old master back to life and push the boundaries of what technology can achieve, what happens when an art forger uses the same approach?
Framing policies to govern the ethics of artificial intelligence
UNESCO recently embarked on developing a legal, global document on the ethics of artificial intelligence, open to everyone, because, says the organization, everyone and every part of the world should be part of this debate, and new frameworks need to be developed for dealing with the ethical considerations of AI.
The EU Commission too has proposed an AI Act, the first law on AI by a major regulator anywhere to regulate the use of AI. It divides use of AI into four risk categories:
- Unacceptable risks – for example, the use of AI in social scoring by governments like in China
- High-risk uses – AI scanning tools that rank job applicants, for instance
- Limited-risk applications – such as a requirement to inform users when interacting with AI chatbots
- Minimal-risk AI – spam filters, for example
The US too has published a draft AI Bill of Rights intended to guide the deployment of automated systems. Brazil, Canada, and the UK are working on the development of similar laws and frameworks, as well as other global jurisdictions.
To balance progress with responsibility, it is crucial to address the challenges AI brings. And this can only happen by prioritizing transparency, accountability, and privacy in the ethical use of AI. Artificial Intelligence has the potential to positively transform society and create a better future. If we use it intelligently.
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