Opinion: Why You Should Care About AI Ethics

Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash closeup photo of white robot arm
Photo by Possessed Photography on Unsplash

Lately, there has been plenty of chatter around AI and Ethics. According to an IBM study, 75% of business executives rank AI ethics as important in 2021. This is up from less than 50% in 2018.

“Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too.”

Elon Musk

Why is AI ethics important?

Here is a recent real-life example from December 2022. The “Lensa” app uses AI technology to create “cartoon” depictions from people’s real images. However, Lensa was also trained using billions of free photographs from the Internet without proper consent – neither did its AI company pay nor offer credit to the artists who created the original art.

Another example of AI ethics is that of people using the popular ChatGPT model to write essays and win contests. Sounds awesome, right? Here’s why you should care about AI ethics.

What Is AI Ethics?

Should we talk about ethics when referring to technology? AI poses the threat of real people
losing their jobs – or even destroying humanity. Amazingly, this is why the topic of ethics in AI is such a widely talked-about subject.

Also called Ethical AI, AI ethics refers to any steps taken to ensure the responsible use of AI.
For example, AI ethics covers sensitive topics like racial bias, data privacy, and environmental damage. Klaus Schwab talks about why we must address the “moral and ethical issues raised by research in artificial intelligence and biotechnology, which will enable significant life extension, designer babies, and memory extraction”.

Fascinating, but why should we care about AI ethics? Poor AI models (trained on inaccurate
data) can have devastating consequences for individuals belonging to minority groups. That
brings us to the various aspects of ethical AI.

Various Aspects of Ethical AI

Ethical AI is the intersection of technology with human values. Here are the aspects of ethical AI. But can humans trust AI technology? Quite a bold question. Fundamentally, humans must be convinced that AI models always make “fair” decisions for every individual or group.

Data Privacy

In the age of AI, personal data is used for everything from recommending services to diagnosing diseases. As AI-powered monitoring devices keep increasing, the ethical question is how organizations will use individual data for their benefit.

Environmental Impact

AI models continue to consume more energy resources. Surprised, here’s a recent
environmental study. However, AI is also helping in detecting greenhouse emissions and
plastic-eating enzymes. So, is it still ethical? You decide.

AI Literacy

With the ongoing technology race, countries are competing with each other to improve their AI literacy rate. They are investing more in data and computing technology. The ethical question is whether larger economies will control the market share in AI expertise and knowledge.

Undoubtedly, your phone has become an inseparable part of your life. When you use AI for your day-to-day work, it outwits you into thinking that all of the magic is taking place out of thin air — hence keeping you oblivious of the fact that it involves heavy-duty machinery and carbon footprints.

Right from the server base to your personal phones, everything is costing our planet. Ethical AI is the responsibility of every individual and business enterprise to ensure the preservation of human touch and livelihoods.

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