The ethical dimensions of artificial intelligence

10 Apr 2019 13:30h - 15:00h

Event report


The session looked at the ethical dimensions of artificial intelligence (AI) that can contribute to sustainable development. The moderator, Ms Sasha Rubel (Programme Specialist, Knowledge Societies Division, UNESCO) asked 3 questions that the panellists incorporated in their presentation. What do we mean by ethical and human centres in AI? What are the immediate and potential long-term ethical challenges raised by AI? Lastly, what are some of the challenges in establishing ethical frameworks in principles in this field?

Mr Peter-Paul Verbeek (COMEST Member) touched on 3 potential implications that could be at stake. In the field of education more jobs may be taken over by technology, but also critical thinking may be affected. In terms of culture, we are not sure what will be the future of diversity, languages in the age of translation, and creativity. Lastly, the communication went on how the central features of the modern world might be affected by AI.

Ms Karine Perset (Economist, OECD) spoke on five value-based principles. AI systems should respect human rights and fairness, transparent and explainable, robust and safe and secure, as well as accountable most importantly promotes inclusive growth and wellbeing. This effort of policy needs to be focused on the potentials of AI, as well as on addressing the risks at an individual and societal level.

Ms Monique Morrow (President, VETRI Foundation) raised fears on how these technologies are used in private industries that can be perceived as quite intrusive. The issue is not with AI, but it is an amplification of societal discussions.

Mr Amandeep Singh Gill (Executive Director, Secretariat of the High-Level Panel on Digital Cooperation, ex officio) said that ethics have always played a role in ambiguous situations. There needs to be the commitment to human agency, so this has to be followed up with the commitment to global and multistakeholder collaboration. We also need to maximise the enabling role for the sustainable development goals (SDGs) guardrails to prevent misuse and reduce the risk of social and individual harm.

Ms Mei Lin Fung (Co-Founder, People Centered Internet) said that there is a dependency on AI without the institutional in commercial guardrails to use them wisely. We face the threat of technological imperialism and colonisation if we are not prepared.

Dr Salma Abbasi (Chairperson and CEO, The eWorldwide Group) talked about the educational side of things, she said there needs to be a kind of framework and policies and governments to be put into place. We are not exposed to ethics in AI until we become a graduate or an employee in an organisation, but by this point it is too late. This makes it more difficult to voice ethical concerns when exposed to commercial pressures.

Mr Konstantinos Karachalios (Managing Director, IEEE) said that in order to have the AI systems benefit us they need to be ready to predict, plan better and optimise. AI has a huge potential to help humans achieve a level of sufficiency in food and resources.

Dr Katie Evans (PhD Philosophy) talked about two capacities that have been complimentary in the course of human progress, however suddenly they are now at odds. The capacity humans have to make tools to use as a means to an end and the agency in autonomy. We have become enamoured with these tools, as a result, we have become so driven to optimise, giving up a great deal of agency and autonomy. 

Mr Nicolas Miailhe (Co-Founder and Director, The Future Society) said that ethics unfolds in the reality of everyday practices of people as it emerges from the ground of the digital and global. Therefore, it is a global phenomenon requiring global co-ordination kind of articulating. There is a need to solve for everyone in a way that addresses the universal, yet respects pluralism diversity and the fact that we may not all want the same future in a granular level remains a difficult challenge since the digital revolution is in the concentration of wealth and power.

Ms Adriana Eufrasina Bora (Student, International Public Management) emphasised that we need to build technology which is assigned in the framework of social ethical principles. It is important to have an understanding that AI interacts with society on so many levels that we cannot find one solution that fits all. Digital literacy is important, but it is not sufficient to prepare students to be able to enter the label market, if we need to prepare the younger generations.

All the panellists agree on the urgency for a mulitskatholder co-operation and collaboration for governance, regulation, and implementation to work as desired.


By Jainee Feliz-Cabrera