The first day of SHIFT Business Festival saw inspired conversation about the ethical questions and challenges of artificial intelligence. At the morning press conference, futurist Richard Yonck said the discussion about how AI should be used concerns every one of us. “The next major shifts in the world of AI will lead to programs capable of reasoning, abstract thinking, common sense and an understanding of causality. Traditionally, these have been considered modes of thinking that only people could perform, but work is now being done by researchers all over the world to make this possible.”
Although machines resemble humans, thanks to artificial intelligence, they are not human. “AI is a tool or a broad set of tools that we use to engage our increasingly complex world and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future. But as we integrate AI into more of our systems and our world, thereby gaining immense benefits, we’re also learning some hard lessons about the challenges it can bring, most recently in terms of job displacement, bias, disinformation and privacy.”
Along the same lines, Joanna Bryson, associate professor at the University of Bath, believes maintaining human control of artificial intelligence to be crucial. “The legal and technological problems of maintaining control are actually fairly well understood and amenable to engineering. The real problem is establishing the social and political will for assigning and maintaining accountability.” Bryson’s keynote focused on responsibility and control in the development and use of AI – “whether we have control now, and what technological and regulatory steps we can take to improve the present situation for the benefit of the very long term.”
Catalina Butnaru, Global Ethics Lead at City AI, also talked about responsibility and accountability. Humans must take responsibility for the manufacturing and use cases of their tools, and the responsibility does not belong exclusively to any one group of people. “You’re perfectly positioned, today, in your company, in your current job, to make a difference in the future of humanity, under the wide umbrella of changes that AI will bring forth in our economy and society, worldwide,” Butnaru described the role – and responsibility – of the individual.
In Butnaru’s words, one doesn’t need to be a philosophical genius, or wait for the scrutiny of a regulatory power, to be able to take responsibility for making ethical choices about AI. Artificial intelligence developers should also consider not just the effects of AI but also education: how to educate the end users to use AI-powered tools in a way that is right and responsible. Seeing AI as a tool controlled by humans, it becomes clear that the responsibility and accountability must also rest with us humans.