July 1, 2023 8:20 AM
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The power of artificial intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing our lives and work in unprecedented ways. Now, city streets can be illuminated by smart street lights, healthcare systems can use AI to diagnose and treat patients with speed and accuracy, financial institutions are able to employ AI to detect fraudulent activities, and there are even schools protected by AI-powered gun detection systems. AI is steadily advancing many aspects of our existence, often without us even realizing it.
As AI becomes increasingly sophisticated and ubiquitous, its continuous rise is illuminating challenges and ethical considerations that we must navigate carefully. To ensure that its development and deployment properly align with key values that are beneficial to society, it is crucial to approach AI with a balanced perspective and work to maximize its potential for good while minimizing its possible risks.
Navigating ethics across multiple AI types
The pace of technological advancement in recent years has been extraordinary, with AI evolving rapidly and the latest developments receiving considerable media attention and mainstream adoption. This is especially true of the viral launches of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT, which recently set the record for the fastest-growing consumer app in history. However, success also brings ethical challenges that must be navigated, and ChatGPT is no exception.
ChatGPT is a valuable tool for content creation that is being used worldwide, but its ability to be used for nefarious purposes like plagiarism has been widely reported. Additionally, because the system is trained on data from the internet, it can be vulnerable to false information and may regurgitate or craft responses based on false information in a discriminatory or harmful fashion.
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Of course, AI can benefit society in unprecedented ways, especially when used for public safety. However, even engineers who have dedicated their lives to its evolution are aware that its rise carries risks and pitfalls. It is crucial to approach AI with a perspective that balances ethical considerations.
This requires a thoughtful and proactive approach. One strategy is for AI companies to establish a third-party ethics board to oversee the development of new products. Ethics boards are focused on responsible AI, ensuring new products align with the organization’s core values and code of ethics. In addition to third-party boards, external AI ethics consortiums are providing valuable oversight and ensuring companies prioritize ethical considerations that benefit society rather than solely focusing on shareholder value. Consortiums enable competitors in the space to collaborate and establish fair and equitable rules and requirements, reducing the concern that any one company may lose out by adhering to a higher standard of AI ethics.
We must remember that AI systems are trained by humans, which makes them vulnerable to corruption for any use case. To address this vulnerability, we as leaders need to invest in thoughtful approaches and rigorous processes for data capture and storage, as well as testing and improving models in-house to maintain AI quality control.
Ethical AI: A balancing act of transparency and competition
When it comes to ethical AI, there is a true balancing act. The industry as a whole has differing views on what is deemed ethical, making it unclear who should make the executive decision on whose ethics are the right ethics. However, perhaps the question to ask is whether companies are being transparent about how they are building these systems. This is the main issue we are facing today.
Ultimately, although supporting regulation and legislation may seem like a good solution, even the best efforts can be thwarted in the face of fast-paced technological advancements. The future is uncertain, and it is very possible that in the next few years, a loophole or an ethical quagmire may surface that we could not foresee. This is why transparency and competition are the ultimate solutions to ethical AI today.
Currently, companies compete to provide a comprehensive and seamless user experience. For example, people may choose Instagram over Facebook, Google over Bing, or Slack over Microsoft Teams based on the quality of experience. However, users often lack a clear understanding of how these features work and the data privacy they are sacrificing to access them.
If companies were more transparent about processes, programs and data usage and collection, users would have a better understanding of how their personal data is being used. This would lead to companies competing not only on the quality of the user experience, but on providing customers with the privacy they desire. In the future, open-source technology companies that provide transparency and prioritize both privacy and user experience will be more prominent.
Proactive preparation for future regulations
Promoting transparency in AI development will also help companies stay ahead of any potential regulatory requirements while building trust within their customer base. To achieve this, companies must remain informed of emerging standards and conduct internal audits to assess and ensure compliance with AI-related regulations before those regulations are even enforced. Taking these steps not only ensures that companies are meeting legal obligations but provides the best possible user experience for customers.
Essentially, the AI industry must be proactive in developing fair and unbiased systems while protecting user privacy, and these regulations are a starting point on the road to transparency.
Conclusion: Keeping ethical AI in focus
As AI becomes increasingly integrated into our world, it is evident that without attention, these systems can be built on datasets that reflect many of the flaws and biases of their human creators.
To proactively address this issue, AI developers should mindfully construct their systems and test them using datasets that reflect the diversity of human experience, ensuring fair and unbiased representation of all users. Developers should establish and maintain clear guidelines for the use of these systems, taking ethical considerations into account while remaining transparent and accountable.
AI development requires a forward-looking approach that balances the potential benefits and risks. Technology will only continue to evolve and become more sophisticated, so it is essential that we remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure that AI is used ethically. However, determining what constitutes the greater good of society is a complex and subjective matter. The ethics and values of different individuals and groups must be considered, and ultimately, it is up to the users to decide what aligns with their beliefs.
Timothy Sulzer is CTO of ZeroEyes.
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