Ethics and AI: a crash course

Walk in to any entry-level Ethics class and you’ll observe academic philosophers teaching their students three theories of what it means to be ethical:

  1. Utilitarianism: Does an action produce net good consequences?;

  2. Deontology: Does an action follow a moral rule? e.g. the Golden Rule: ‘Treat others how you want to be treated’;

  3. Virtue Ethics: Does an action contribute to virtue (whatever that means--blame Aristotle)?

Ethical practitioners, on the other hand, will be quick to tell you the world doesn’t work so neatly.

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Should we be scared of artificial intelligence?

So you’ve probably heard a bit about artificial intelligence on the media. You may have seen snatches of AI breakthroughs on the news, or watched  that Simpsons episode where the house takes over and tries to kill Homer. There is a lot of sensationalism out there, and we know that sensationalism pays. However, some of these fears are becoming close(ish) to reality.  These days it is not entirely off the wall to imagine our jobs being taken over by robots, self-driving cars running over pedestrians, and our personal data being stolen.

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Scarlet George
More than STEM: how teaching human specialties will help prepare kids for AI

What do you think when you hear ‘AI and education’? Robots teaching kids, AI helping teachers with marking, or simply teaching AI in schools? While these are all important subjects (with significant ethical implications) we believe a key area to focus on in the discussion on AI and the future of education is ‘what makes us different from machines?’. As AI gets more useful and more common, what does that mean for our education system right now? What should we be teaching our kids to ensure they are ready for the world they will be graduating into?

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Scarlet George
When good intentions go bad: the role of technology in terrorist content online

Osama bin Laden’s televised statement celebrating the attack on the Twin Towers in 2001 was confirmation of just how sophisticated terrorist communication in the twenty-first century had become. However, even once technologically-advanced groups such as al-Qaeda now have a tiny digital footprint compared with groups such as the Islamic State (ISIS), whose origins coincided with the emergence of Web 2.0.

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Katie Passey
Why every city needs to take action on AI

When we think about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) we usually ask one of several questions: what can it do? Where is it headed? And how widespread will its effects be? The growing consensus around these questions is something like: it can probably do less than you think right now, it may someday do more than you imagine, and it will therefore probably affect almost every area of your life. The rise of automation has given way to a fourth question: what should we do about it?

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Hannah Miller
Suspending or shaping the AI policy frontier: has Germany become part of the AI strategy fallacy?

When it comes to national AI strategies, governments should harness first-mover advantages wherever possible. Despite continuing calls from the German economy and leading research institutes as well as Germany’s great potential succeed in AI, the German Federal Government has delayed its plans to publish a national AI strategy until November 2018.

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Is the UK ready, willing and able for AI? The Government responds to the Lords’ report

Less than three months after the Lords gave their recommendations on how the UK can be a global leader in developing AI, the government has responded. Their response gives clear direction in terms of education around AI, and demonstrates the Government’s aims to seek counsel from public opinion and experts in the field. While some responses were explicit in their aims, others left us with more questions than answers.

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Scarlet George
Beyond borders: talking at TEDxLondon

The greatest lesson I learnt during the coaching sessions was that TED is about the audience, not the speaker. Even if the idea is yours, you are on that stage to share. To do that well you have to connect with your audience, breaking down the barrier between seat and stage in the process. You can’t bat out an idea like mine – “code poetry” – if no one catches it.

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Mexico leads Latin America as one of the first ten countries in the world to launch an artificial intelligence strategy

Mexico has joined some of the world’s most technically advanced and ambitious nations by launching a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy. During a time of national political transition and technological change worldwide, Mexico’s AI strategy provides direction on how the opportunities from AI can be harnessed for the country’s economy and society.

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AI in the UK: are we ‘ready, willing and able’?

April’s report from the House of Lords’ Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence asks if the UK is ‘ready, willing, and able’ for AI. Our Government AI Readiness Index ranked the UK government as best positioned in the OECD to take advantage of AI. On many measures, at least, we are ready. Whether we are willing and able is another question.

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Laura Caccia
Ranking governments on AI - it's time to act

This week, the Economist Intelligence Unit, sponsored by the tech firm ABB, released their report The Automation Readiness Index: Who is Ready for the Coming Wave of Automation? The paper quickly attracted sensationalist headlines about the ‘rise of the robots’, similar to some of those we saw last year when we released our Government AI Readiness Index.

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Isak Nti Atare
Economic disruption and runaway AI: what can governments do?

Governments around the world are grappling with the same questions on AI: What is it? What can it do? What does it mean for our country? There are three pressing questions that governments need to answer in the short-term:

  • how to manage the transition in the economy?
  • how to ensure the use of AI reflects your values?
  • how to use the power of AI to deliver better services for citizens?


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AIRichard Stirling
Want to get serious about artificial intelligence? You’ll need an AI strategy

Governments are waking up to the fact that artificial intelligence (AI) could transform their economies, public services, and workforces. If governments are to capitalise on the AI opportunity, they need to have well thought out structures and processes in place to do so. Seven countries have now published national AI strategies, and they are declaring themselves as the new global leaders in AI.

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“The things that make me interesting cannot be digitised”: leadership lessons from the Drucker Forum

The entreaty to ask leaders to be regularly uncomfortable, quiet, and wrong is a reminder that one of the most important traits a leader needs is courage. While plenty of leaders are happy being quiet, few enjoy being uncomfortable or wrong. This means not only accepting correction or questioning, but actively seeking it out, wading through awkwardness on both sides, taking criticism and using it to get better.

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Why Black people don’t start businesses (and how more inclusive innovation could make a difference)

According to the Race Disparity Audit, in 2016, Black workers were the least likely to be self-employed at 11%. My hypothesis as a Black business owner myself is that a large number of Black-run businesses are in low-barrier sectors such as care work or cleaning. I strongly suspect that the number of Black-run tech startups for example, would show a bleak picture for those overall ethnicity statistics. Why is that?

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Motherboard knows best?

We might expect that algorithms would be seen as more objective arbiters in disputes, or more impartial recruiters for jobs. But they are not. Researchers have observed that people rely on human judgement, even when informed about the shortcomings of human decision making... People are not particularly alarmed by the application of technology in the form of online platforms like turbo-tax or dashboards. The problem usually arises when algorithms are used to inform judgements which have a significant impact on citizens’ lives, such as sentencing criminals or deciding who should receive welfare payments. 

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AI: the ultimate intern

It doesn’t matter that AI isn’t as smart as the humans on your team. It is already capable of saving you time and energy by taking the easiest tasks off your hands, leaving you free to focus on more important things. 

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AIRichard StirlingAI