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Tag: Ethical Principles and Guidelines for Artificial Intelligence: European and American Perspectives

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As US grapples with AI, laws and regulations enter nascent stages

Imagine a world without environmental regulations or traffic laws, where unlicensed motorists drive as they please and factories pollute with impunity.

Computers are increasingly involved in the most important decisions affecting Americans’ lives – whether or not someone can buy a home, get a job or even go to jail.” This spring, Democratic senators Cory Booker and Ron Wyden proposed the first national AI ethics bill in the form of the Algorithmic Accountability Act.

Artificial intelligence is also increasingly relied upon for tasks like financial underwriting, as well as to make marketing decisions for housing and education, raising new questions about how biased algorithms can shape people’s opportunities.

Booker reflected on a time 50 years ago when his parents experienced a practice called “real estate steering,” in which realtors nudged them away from certain neighborhoods.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development charged Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act because its ad targeting software could be used to discriminate who sees housing ads based on sex, race, religion and disability status.

When you train a model with data, your model is going to learn what’s in the data.” Left unchecked, these algorithms can reinforce prejudices in our society, as one Princeton study found.

The algorithm ended up matching male names to words like “profession” and “salary,” and female names to “parents” and “wedding.” In announcing the AAA, Senator Wyden expressed concern about precisely these kinds of issues: “Computers are increasingly involved in the most important decisions affecting Americans’ lives – whether or not someone can buy a home, get a job or even go to jail.

But instead of eliminating bias, too often these algorithms depend on biased assumptions or data that can actually reinforce discrimination against women and people of color,” Wyden said in a statement.

“Our bill requires companies to study the algorithms they use, identify bias in these systems and fix any discrimination or bias they find.” Considering the ways in which bias shapes human interactions, it’s not hard to see how these problems crop up.

It’s very tempting to think that we can replace humans en masse with new technology, but this misguided thinking.” Google has already released an open-sourced tool called the What-If Tool to help AI developers analyze algorithms and visualize bias.

Around the world, governments are wrestling with the same challenges as the U.S. Proposing a bill like the Algorithmic Accountability Act is a huge step forward for the U.S., said Manoj Saxena, who’s the executive chairman at the Austin-based AI company, Cognitive Scale, on the board of the ethical AI nonprofit AI Global and a lecturer in AI ethics at the University of Texas at Austin.

The EU has taken large steps to specifically protect consumer data with the General Data Protection Regulation Act, which requires companies to ensure they have an airtight data consent management process — and fines them if they don’t.

Just like the physical me has rights, the digital me needs to have human rights, too.” In his view, it’s important for business leaders to work with engineers to establish principles and guidelines on what they want the technology to do so that it reflects their core values.

The ethics of artificial intelligence: laws from around the world

Like Australia's Discussion Paper, the EU Guidelines highlight the importance of non-discrimination, promoting societal and environmental wellbeing, privacy, accountability and transparency.

For example, amongst the wide-reaching provisions of the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation, article 22 provides that a decision with legal ramifications for a person (or which would similarly seriously affect them) cannot be based solely on automated processing or profiling, in most situations.

In 2018 the tech giant established an AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research (AETHER) committee, to bring together senior leaders to craft internal policy and address ethics in specific issues.

The principles set out Google's objectives in assessing AI applications, including to: Google has also published a list of AI applications which it will not pursue, including technologies that cause or are likely to cause overall harm, weapons or other technologies whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people, technologies that gather or use information for surveillance violating internationally accepted norms or technologies whose purpose contravenes widely accepted principles of international law and human rights.

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