FEATURE20 November 2023

Mhairi Aitken in seven

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AI Data analytics Features Impact People Public Sector

Mhairi Aitken, ethics fellow in the Public Policy Programme at The Alan Turing Institute, discusses the risks and benefits of artificial intelligence and introducing ethical data practices.

a black and white portrait photo of Mhairi Aitken

1: Are we too focused on the potential risks of artificial intelligence (AI) rather than the reality?

It’s right to be discussing the risks, but it’s important to focus on real risks. Recent media coverage has emphasised hypothetical, far-fetched scenarios, where risks come from super-intelligent AI. That worries me, because it’s distracting from the very real, present risks that AI poses. It suggests AI could somehow be accountable for its actions and shifts attention away from the decisions of big tech companies. When we talk about risks from AI, it’s important we also talk about who is responsible for those risks and who should be held accountable when harms occur.

2: What is the best way to develop ethical data practices?

It’s really important to engage with potentially impacted communities – that includes people who may not use a service or product directly, but who might be affected by decisions made because of data practices. Engaging impacted communities in early ...