Ethics of AI

Ahead of his keynote at European SharePoint Conference in Copenhagen, LiveTiles Futurist and Strategist George Muir previews some of his thoughts on artificial intelligence and ethics.


Right or wrong: the argument of ethics

Ethics are an interesting concept at the best of times. What one entity sees as ethical, another might view as reprehensible. This can be seen on a global, organizational, and individual levels – global scale, with different countries having contradictory viewpoints on human rights; on an organizational level, where one company’s go-to-market strategy might be seen as cut-throat or unfair by another; and even on an individual basis, where political leanings and personal ideologies can lead people to have completely different ethical views on the same subject.


Ethics in AI: Steering the way

When it comes to artificial intelligence (AI), we are in a unique position to be able to influence the ethical standards of an entirely new system. Already, we are seeing instances where programmer bias, intentional or otherwise, is affecting AI outcomes. Some high profile situations include a racist chatbot on twitter, and soap dispensers not recognizing skin tone.

These cases, while offensive to the parties against whom they are biased, are not as bad as it can get, though. There is fear around unsubstantiated bias in judicial judgments, financial decisions, and even safety systems in autonomous vehicles. It’s easy to see why there is concern around the ethical and moral questions regarding AI, especially when they have the power to completely ruin, or even end, a person’s life.


AI Governance: keeping it in check

The frustrating concept to entertain here is that a system can be made to be inherently biased, simply due to the bias of its creator. Unfortunately, AI is growing at a blistering pace, and we are not certain that guiding governance principles can or even should be established.

While there are entities in the world that are working on guiding the rules and ethics around AI, it could be argued that such a world-changing technology needs to be monitored at a globally political level, to protect all users of AI. After all, it is proposed that AI will become ubiquitous in our lives, and that it will help with all manner of daily tasks. We need to be able to create AI systems that offer fair and equal experiences for every single person, no matter who they are, and that is evidently not happening yet.

For me, creating strong AI governance is all about using your personal, family, and company values combined with open and honest dialogue. Who should be playing “God” to say if something is ethical or not? How, and from where, have their values grown?


The bots are here to help: potential benefits of AI

At the moment, AI is still very much in its relative infancy, despite AI concepts being around since the early days of digital computing. Recognizing the possible challenges around AI early is the key to making sure that we understand the consequences if we use AI in the wrong way—replacing humanity, instead of using AI to augment humanity!

AI has the potential to make our lives substantially easier and more comfortable by providing smarter ways to work. By taking on automated tasks, AI stands to change the way humans think about work, much as previous industrial revolutions did.  Humans will focus on human interaction, orchestration of tasks and events, making complex judgement calls and completing tasks that require a high level of abstract thought. AI will learn from humans (and human mistakes) and perform the tasks that humans trust them to perform.

As a result, we humans will have the potential for more leisure time, and more time to focus on our own happiness and well-being. We have the potential, through AI, to create a more egalitarian world for all people, regardless of where they live or their previous living conditions. We can focus on more creative thinking, thus driving cultural capital at a previously unforeseen rate.

AI has the potential to herald a golden age for humanity. But, and this is a big but, we have to do it properly from the outset. We need to take this opportunity seriously as an entire species, to push towards a better world for all.



About George

George Muir is the Futurist at LiveTiles. George is responsible for igniting ideas, discussion on the practical applications of the digital revolution of business and how artificial intelligence will impact our professional lives in the future. As a visionary George has a long career in technology across enterprise architecture, business processes and human resources transformation. As the previous Futurist for IKEA George was in charge of visualizing the future workplace.

He will be leading a session at the 2018 European SharePoint Conference in Copenhagen on Tuesday 27th from 4:15pm to 4:45pm entitled ‘The Ethical and Moral Dilemma of Artificial Intelligence’ at Room T36, Level 100 of The Bella Center.

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