FEATURE24 December 2018

The ethics of AI

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Artificial intelligence is introducing speed and reliability to many number-crunching exercises. But Bethan Blakeley argues that the algorithm shouldn’t rule unconditionally, and that we need to explore the many ethical grey areas.

magnifiying glass on backgrounds shaded in grey

Not a day goes by without us being told about some of the amazing things artificial intelligence (AI) can do, and is doing for our world and our communities. Then there’s what it’s doing that we don’t know about yet, because the results are not ready for publication. It really does seem as though the uses of AI are only constrained by human imagination. 

Now, I’m not diminishing any AI applications – whether helping farmers detect crop disease; being used to diagnose cancer and create personalised treatments; or driving a car. But I am questioning whether we should be using AI in some of these applications, whether we’re comfortable with some of the outcomes of these algorithms, and how they affect people’s lives. Can we whole-heartedly agree there is nothing wrong with these situations ethically, morally, emotionally, or otherwise? 

Nothing is black and white, there’s always a grey area. And so it is with ...