|Ethics of AI - A Course From Finland|
|Written by Nikos Vaggalis|
|Friday, 15 October 2021|
Α free online text-based course by the University of Helsinki for anyone who is interested in the ethical aspects of AI.
The University of Helsinki has already a track record for its Elements of AI course which launched in 2018 as we reported in Free AI Course from Finland. Initally it offered Introduction to AI as a free online MOOC, provided in English and intended to accessible to a very wide audience. Later a second course, Building AI, was added and according to its website 730,000 people of enrolled.
Since many aspects of our society involve or are going to involve AΙ in the near future, the subject of AI Ethics is more relevant than ever and this new course is therefore a welcome counterpart.
As we examined in "How Will AI Transform Life By 2030? Initial Report" there are several societal sectors which are going to be affected by AI:
Other sectors affected are going to be Low resource communities, Public safety and security, Employment and workplace and Entertainment. Read the report for more.
So where do Ethics fit into this picture? According to the course:
Ethics concern the questions of how developers, manufacturers, authorities and operators should behave in order to minimize the ethical risks that can arise from AI in society, either from design, inappropriate application, or intentional misuse of the technology.
Going one step further, it explains that there's three subfields of ethics:
1) Meta-ethics studies the meaning of ethical concepts, the existence of ethical entities (ontology) and the possibility of ethical knowledge (epistemology).
2) Normative ethics concerns the practical means of determining a moral (or ethically correct) course of action.
3) Applied ethics concerns what a moral agent (defined as someone who can judge what is right and wrong and be held accountable) is obligated or permitted to do in a specific situation or a particular domain of action.
Since AI ethics is a subfield of applied ethics this is the focus of the course..
AI ethics is a sensitive issue and we have witnessed its misusing on the subjects of privacy through the data collection and its subsequent malevolent interpretation by ClearView AI and Cambridge Analytica, and on the subjects of bias as examined in the article "How AI Discriminates" which practically shows how Machine Learning algorithms can make biased decisions when hiring. Subsequently, as people integrate AI more broadly and deeply into industrial processes and consumer products, best practices need to be spread, and regulatory regimes adapted.
To deal with those issues, the course examines the establishment of Ethical frameworks, which:
are attempts to build consensus around values and norms that can be adopted by a community – whether that’s a group of individuals, citizens, governments, businesses within the data sector or other stakeholders converged on a set of five principles:
These five principles aim to answer a variety of questions and set safeguards in place:
And that's what the course is about - to focus on these principles, analyze what they imply and interpret them in the fashion of not just traditional philosophy but also in practice discussing their problems and asking the tough questions, all that through a well rounded syllabus:
Chapter 1: What is AI ethics?
Chapter 2: What should we do?
Chapter 3: Who should be blamed?
Chapter 4: Should we know how AI works
Chapter 5: Should AI respect and promote rights?
Chapter 6: Should AI be fair and non-discriminative
Chapter 7: AI ethics in practice
In the end, Ethics of AI makes for an easy to read and thoughtful guide which manages to put under the spotlight some very important issues that will concern our society as it moves forward. As such it's useful not just for engineers, policy makers and educators but also for the greater public that needs to be informed on the aspects of technology that will affect its life one way or the other. Ethics of AI tries to ensure that these ways are positive.
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