Toothless ethics is an obstacle for the ethics of Artificial Intelligence

21-9

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Ethics has powerful teeth that are not used in the ethics of AI today. In a recently published paper in Big Data & Society, SIENNA’s Anaïs Resseguier and Rowena Rodrigues describe how the teeth of AI ethics are lost with the current “law conception of ethics”.

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'The ethics of AI has been a high priority on the policy agenda for quite some time. Over the past few years, various measures and initiatives have been put in place to promote ethical development and use of this technology. But the authors are not satisfied with the way ‘ethics’ is currently being discussed and used for artificial intelligence.

They argue that ‘ethics’ in the current AI ethics field is largely ineffective, trapped in an ‘ethical principles’ approach. This opens for manipulation, especially by industry actors. Using ethics as a substitute for law comes with risks of abuse and misuse. This ‘prinicples’ approach severly limits what ethics can achieve in relation to AI and the impacts technologies have on both individuals and society

In the article, the authors highlight the nature of ethics in the AI ethics field today, where they describe AI ethics as following a more legal conception of ethics. According to them, this approach to ethics fails to achieve what it pretends to achieve, i.e., a development and use of AI that is beneficial and prevents harms to individuals and the society.  In their view, the real value of ethics, or its ‘teeth’ is a constantly renewed ability to see the new as it emerges. According to them, the more legalistc approach is what should come at the end of ethics, and not be confused with its teeth.

AnaÎs Resseguier & Rowena Rodrigues, AI ethics should not remain toothless! A call to bring back the teeth of ethics, Big Data & Society, Online July 22, 2020

Read the paper here

By Anna Holm & Josepine Fernow

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