Published
Dec 11, 2019
Reading time
2 min read
AI Ethics Must Be Actionable

Dear friends,

I’ve been thinking about AI and ethics. With the techlash and an erosion of trust in technology as a positive force, it’s more important than ever that we make sure the AI community acts ethically.

There has been a proliferation of AI ethical principles. This paper surveys 84 such statements. These statements are a great start, but we still need to do better.

Take, for example, the OECD’s [statement: AI should benefit people and the planet by driving inclusive growth, sustainable development, and well-being. When I ask engineers what effect such statements have on their day-to-day actions, they say, “pretty much none.” It is wonderful that the OECD is thinking about this. But we need more actionable codes of ethics that give more concrete and actionable suggestions.

I described earlier struggling with an ethical decision of whether to publicize an AI threat. It’s in situations like that we need better guidelines and processes for decision making.

Many existing AI ethics codes come from large corporations and governments. But if we hope that the global AI community will follow a set of guidelines, then this community — including you — needs to have a bigger voice in its development. We need an ethical code written by the AI community, for the AI community. That will also be the best

way to make sure it truly reflects our community’s values, and that all of us buy into it and will follow it.

Last Friday, deeplearning.ai hosted our first Pie & AI on AI and ethics. Four cities joined us: Hong Kong, Manila, Singapore, and Tokyo. We started with an interactive discussion, and each city came up with three actionable ethics statements, preferably starting with, “An AI engineer should …” The ideas they presented ranged from seeking diverse perspectives when creating data to staying vigilant about malicious coding. I was heartened to see so many people motivated to debate ethical AI in a thoughtful way.

I hope to do more events like this to encourage people to start the conversation within their own communities. This is important, and we need to figure this out.

I would love to hear your suggestions. You can email us at hello@deeplearning.ai.

Keep learning!

Andrew

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