News  |    |  May 22, 2020

A New Class of AI Ethics

News article by Samuel Greengard. Published in Communications of the ACM.


Ethics and technology have always been tightly interwoven, but as artificial intelligence (AI) marches forward and impacts society in new and novel ways, the stakes—and repercussions—are growing.

“There is potential for (AI) to be used in ways that society disapproves of,” observes David S. Touretzky, a research professor in the computer science department at Carnegie Mellon University.

One idea that’s gaining momentum is AI ethics instruction in schools. Groups such as AI4K12 and the MIT Media Lab have begun to study the issue and develop AI learning frameworks for K-12 students. In many cases, the materials approach the topic in broad and holistic ways. At the same time, many universities are expanding and strengthening their existing AI ethics content.

The goal? “We need to teach our children to understand the decisions they make (related to AI) and how they impact society,” says Tom Yeh, assistant professor of computer science at the University of Colorado, Boulder. “Do we really want to wait until they enter college or the workforce? We are seeing an explosion of technology in our lives and there needs to be more thought about how it’s designed and used.” [ . . . ]