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Ethics and Artificial Intelligence


How should technology be evaluated from an ethical perspective?

1. Technology should be evaluated both on the basis of its utility and the intention of its creator.

2. Intuition can be used to recognize whether an action is ethical or not.

3. There is a theoretical basis for understanding ethics.

4. The egoistic and utilitarian perspectives together form the ‘teleological perspective’, where the focus is on the results that achieve the greatest good.

5. The Deontological perspective focuses on the means used rather than the end result.

What about an Ethical basis in Artificial Intelligence?

1. With the proliferation of AI, it is important for us to know the ethical basis of every AI system that we use or is used on us.

2. Any institutional framework for AI should have a multidisciplinary and multi-stakeholder approach and have an explicit focus on an ethical basis.

3. The ethical basis of AI mostly rests outside the algorithm. The bias is in the data used to train the algorithm.

4. It stems from flawed historical and cultural perspectives that contaminate the data.

5. The way we frame the social and economic problems that the AI algorithm tries to solve also matters.

6. An ethical basis resting on both teleological and deontological perspectives gives us more faith in a system.

7. Sometimes, even an inclusive intention may need careful scrutiny.

  a)  For instance, Polaroid’s ID-2 camera, introduced in the 1960s, provided quality photographs of people with darker skin.

  b) Later, reports emerged that the company developed this for use in an identification document of black South Africans during apartheid.

8. In the context of Artificial Intelligence (AI), most commercially available AI systems are optimized using the teleological perspectives and not the deontological perspective.

Which are the perspectives to be taken into account?

1. A cigarette company’s policy and actions can be studied in this regard.

2. A cigarette company wants to decide on launching a new product, whose primary feature is reduced tar.

3. The lower tar content as a ‘healthier’ option is only half true.

4. A smoker may have to inhale more frequently from a cigarette with lower tar to get the flavor of a regular cigarette.

5. We need to analyze this from three dominant ethical perspectives:

Egotist Perspective

1. First, the egoistic perspective states that we take actions that result in the greatest good for oneself.

2. The cigarette company is likely to sell more cigarettes, assuming that the new product wins over more new customers.

3. From an egoistic perspective, hence, the company should launch the new cigarette.

Utilitarian perspective

1. Second, the utilitarian perspective states that we take actions that result in the greatest good for all.

2. Launching a new cigarette is good for the company.

3. The new brand of cigarettes also provides a ‘healthier’ choice for smokers.  And more choice is good for customers.

4. Hence, the company should launch the product.

Deontological Perspective

1. Third, the ‘deontological perspective’ focusses more on the intention of the maker than the results.

2. The company deceives the customer when it says that the new cigarette is ‘healthier’.

3. Knowingly endangering the health of humans is not an ethical intention.

4. So, the company should not launch this cigarette.

Why is this issue in news?

1. An AI system introduced in 2015 in the U.S. failed to recognize the faces of African Americans with the same accuracy as those of Caucasian Americans.

2. From a deontological perspective, the system should have been rejected as its intention probably was not to identify people from all races, which would have been the most ethical aim to have.

3. Digital platform companies markets span many countries and they should aim to identify faces of all races with equal accuracy.

4. Social media is not the only context where AI facial recognition systems are used today.

5. These systems are increasingly being used for law enforcement. The implications of being labeled a threat to public safety based on one’s skin color would be dangerous.

Where does India stand on the issue of Ethics in AI?

1. Understanding and discussing the ethical basis of AI is important for India.

2. NITI Aayog has a plan to invest ₹7,500 crore in building national capability and infrastructure.

3. The transformative capability of AI in India is huge and must be rooted in an egalitarian ethical basis.

Source: The Hindu