Podcast: Can we have ethical artificial intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has invaded almost every corner of our lives and every aspect of our society.

By Esteve Almirall

Image: AI robot Sophia © ITU/R.Farrell

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We are immersed in a process of assigning our work and many of our decisions to AI. This process often goes beyond operationalising work and includes decision making.

The role of AI in decision making has triggered concern, and critical voices are asking for ethical controls and validation.

In this podcast, Esade innovation expert Esteve Almirall discusses the role of ethics in artificial intelligence with Ulises Cortes, director of the High-Performance AI Group at the Barcelona Supercomputer Centre and a long-time expert in AI and ethics.

Only a few years ago we believed that anonymising data could solve the tension between privacy and the need to develop innovative data-based solutions. We now know that this is not possible, at least not for everybody.

The role of AI in decision making has triggered concern

But it is no longer just about social network data – applications that we can withdraw from and so maintain or control our privacy. Cameras have invaded many corners of our cities. There is no escape, and cameras are no longer optional. 

Together with these privacy concerns, AI also poses challenges for data governance. Who owns the data and how it is used is an increasingly major concern, as very personal data is increasingly concentrated in very few hands.

The European GDPR or the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are addressing this issue. Are they effective, or do they do more harm than good?

It is not only about data. Algorithms are becoming more sophisticated and can target our behavioural weaknesses and influence our individual and collective opinions and beliefs. 

The term fake news is now part of everyday language. Some even call it the age of surveillance capitalism.

In the midst of all this, some prestigious academics are calling for AI to be rebooted, or for human-compatible AI.

Can we have ethical AI?

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