Step 4 – use AI responsibly and ethically.
In this module, you’ll learn about the legal, ethical, and social issues being created by modern AI.
In addition, you’ll learn how you can use
AI responsibly and ethically
to the benefit of our whole society.
With great power come great responsibility.
During the previous technological revolutions,
humans gained access to new super-powers.
In many cases, these new
super-powers were abused
– often to the detriment of many
Agricultural societies gained the ability
to raise large armies.
They often misused this new superpower to
acquire new land, enslave human labor,
and to subjugate entire civilizations.
Industrial societies gained the ability to
They misused this superpower to control resources,
and expand their political influence.
Information societies gained the ability to
wage cyber warfare.
We’ve definitely misused this new superpower
with mass surveillance,
industrial sabotage, and election tampering.
In the AI revolution the situation will
likely be more of the same.
We are going to discover some amazing new
superpowers in the next few years.
However, there will be some people who will
try to use these new powers
for their own self-interest and personal agendas.
With technology revolutions, we are like children getting our hands on a sharp object for the first time.
We typically don’t learn our lesson until
we’ve cut ourselves a few times.
The difference with AI is that we might not
get a second chance to learn from our mistakes.
With great power comes great responsibility,
and with AI, we have the greatest responsibility
that humankind has ever known.
The emergence of modern AI has lead to
some rather interesting
legal, ethical, and social issues
in recent years.
We now have facial-recognition systems
throughout our cities
that may be violating our right to privacy.
We have AI-generated advertisements that use
a consumer’s behavioral profile
to manipulate their purchase decisions.
We have text-generation software (like GPT-3)
which can generate propaganda
and “fake news” on an unprecedented scale.
We have deep-fake technology that can be used
to impersonate politicians,
celebrities, and executives
for nefarious purposes.
We have deep-nude technology that can digitally
remove a person’s clothing
without their consent and has been used for
blackmail and exploitation.
And we have semi-autonomous weapons that are
very close to becoming fully autonomous weapons.
These are just a few of the current legal,
ethical, and social issues
that we’re now facing with modern AI.
However, there are much more advanced and
sophisticated AI technologies
just over the horizon.
Given this, the number and severity
of these ethical issues
is likely to increase significantly
in the near future.
To put it simply, we’re going to have some
very difficult ethical issues
to deal with in our lifetimes.
What does privacy mean in a world with constant
and pervasive AI surveillance?
We currently have very little privacy and
we’re about to get a lot less.
How do we avoid bias and discrimination
in our AI models?
It’s easy to create biased AI models that
will directly impact the lives of millions of people.
Even more concerning, should we allow AI
to be weaponized?
Should we ban fully autonomous weapons before
we enter a new AI arms race?
And if we do, how long until a conflict pressures
a government to override this directive?
How should we allocate resources in a
Some economists suggest that we will need
a Guaranteed Basic Income,
a Negative Income Tax,
or a social stipend.
But how do we pay for that?
Should we tax robots in order to offset the
inevitable unemployment from automation?
How do we even begin to determine the true
value of each robots’ labor
in order to tax their labor appropriately?
And if we tax robots, what rights should they
have in our society?
I mean, we’ve have fought wars over the idea
of “No taxation without representation”.
What will the machines, or the capitalists
that own them, demand in return
for paying the bulk of all taxes in the world?
It’s pretty clear that we have a lot of ethical
that we need to answer in the coming decades.
The most important of these ethical questions
“What does this all mean for humanity?”
What is our purpose in a world where machines
do all the work of real economic value?
Does this technology set us free?
Or does humanity eventually become obsolete?
How do you use AI responsibly and ethically?
What should you be doing today to ensure that
we don’t misuse our new AI superpowers?
First, start asking the
difficult questions now.
If you haven’t spent any time thinking about
any of the ethical questions I just posed,
then you’re probably not prepared for what
is rapidly approaching.
You don’t need to spend all day philosophizing
about the legal, ethical, and political implications of AI.
We’ll leave that up to the lawyers,
philosophers, and politicians.
However, you do need to be thinking about
what your core values are
and whether they agree with or conflict with
these new AI-created dilemmas.
Each of us needs to know where we stand on
these key issues
before they take us by surprise.
Second, avoid bias in your AI models.
It’s very easy to accidentally (or intentionally)
create bias in your AI models.
If you train a model with biased data, you
get biased results.
As the old saying goes:
Garbage in, garbage out.
This creates feedback loops that
can reinforce and amplify
existing socio-economic divisions in our society.
This will be especially true when these algorithms
begin to impact the lives of millions of people.
Third, provide transparency in your AI models.
If you automate a decision with AI,
you should make the decision-making process
as transparent as possible.
If AI becomes a “magic black box” that cannot
then how can anyone get any recourse when
it makes an incorrect decision.
As a result, I recommend that you always use
the simplest AI tool
that effectively solves a given problem.
Don’t use a complex deep neural network
if a simple decision-tree classifier will suffice.
And when possible, use explainable AI tools.
Explainable AI provides diagnostic explanations
for how and why a specific decision was made.
Ultimately, ask yourself, could you explain
to a judge
how this AI model made it’s decisions?
If you can’t explain it, or the judge wouldn’t
be able to understand your answer,
then it’s not transparent.
Fourth, protect your private data from abuse.
If people knew what I could do with their
personal data and the right algorithm,
they’d probably be much more cautious.
However, the general public is currently quite
a few steps behind data scientists in this domain.
Think about what data you are willing
to make public
and protect everything that you want
to remain private.
Only entrust your personal data to organizations
that you trust
can-and-will protect your privacy.
Finally, demand more from our leaders.
We have several AI-related legal, ethical,
and social issues
that we need to address in the very near future.
Unfortunately, many of our politicians have
very little understanding of AI
and thus are unable to make effective
You need to choose representatives
that understand AI
and how it can be either a benefit or a detriment
to our future society.
In addition, we need to choose the best corporations
to lead our society in the right direction.
You vote for these corporations every time
you spend your money on their products and services.
Vote for them with your dollars and hold them
accountable if and when they fail us.
To recap our fourth recommendation:
use AI responsibly and ethically.
Start asking the difficult questions now,
avoid bias in your AI models,
provide transparency with your models’ predictions,
protect your private data from abuse,
and demand more from our leaders.