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Artificial intelligence, an ethical dilemma

July 7, 2021

Artificial intelligence is increasingly present in our daily lives today. It plays an important role in the lives of billions of people. Sometimes unnoticed but with visible consequences, artificial intelligence is transforming society. It calls into question the human being and human values. The development of these new technologies brings many benefits, but also challenges and risks, when they are used maliciously or to exacerbate inequalities or divides. To ensure that artificial intelligence serves the common good, it is important to ask the right questions by addressing the ethical dilemmas.

WHAT IS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE (AI)?

The term artificial intelligence was coined in the 1950s to describe machines capable of learning and performing tasks automatically. Several definitions of AI exist. However, it is commonly accepted that machines incorporating artificial intelligence can mimic or exceed human cognitive abilities such as reasoning, analysis, detection, linguistic interaction or problem solving. These intelligent machines can demonstrate learning capabilities using machine learning or deep learning algorithms to mimic the functioning of the human brain.

The influence of AI is increasing and can be found in various fields such as health, scientific research, communications, transport, education, security and art. Companies using artificial intelligence to train their machines have access to a large amount of data, "big data", to collect and process.

Artificial intelligence can be a powerful tool to address various environmental issues. Nevertheless, several ethical dilemmas arise and need to be discussed. It is therefore important to define international and national policies and regulatory frameworks to enable emerging technologies and AI to serve humans. Every actor in society, individuals and companies, has a role to play.

TECH FOR GOOD, TECHNOLOGY FOR THE COMMON GOOD

"Tech for Good" literally means "technology for good". It is an initiative launched in 2018 by French President Emmanuel Macron with the aim of ensuring that technology acts for the common good. This dynamic manifests the collective awareness that "positive societal impact" must be put back at the heart of tech and the digital transformation of society. It can also be a lever to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) created by the United Nations to make the world a better place. With the development of new technologies, including artificial intelligence, the various economic players, including those in the social economy (SSE), can see new opportunities for action.

At isahit, artificial intelligence is used to develop its digital project outsourcing platform. Thus, the startup offers an innovative and responsible solution for companies looking to outsource their digital projects (annotations of images or videos to train machines in the automotive sectorThis is not only for the employees who work on the digital platform, by having financial support for the realisation of their professional projects and their integration in the world which is becoming more and more digital.

Aware of the opportunities offered by artificial intelligence and digital technology as a whole, isahit is also part of Tech For Good, which ensures that the biases of AI are reduced or even absorbed. The regulation of the use of artificial intelligence is crucial. In this way, deeply rooted stereotypical representations in our societies can be abolished and lead to a more just and equitable world in the future.

Related post: Isahit is present in the 1st mapping of startups with a positive impact on society, the economy and the environment.

WHAT ARE EXAMPLES OF ETHICAL DILEMMAS?

  • AI bias: artificial intelligence systems produce biased results. Take the example of search engines explained by UNESCO. If you do a search on "greatest historical figures" in your favourite search engine, you will probably see a list of the most famous male figures in the world and few if any women highlighted. You can also do another test by searching for images on "colours for girls". The predominant colour is pink with its different shades. There are many other examples related to the representation of women in search engines, especially in digital. These are examples of stereotypes and prejudices that are deeply rooted in society. Search engine technology is not neutral. It processes and collects complex data and then prioritises results according to users' preferences and location. To ensure fairer and more relevant results, it is crucial that gender bias is reduced or avoided in the development of AI-based algorithms, in their training and in their use.
  • the autonomous car: this is a vehicle that is able to detect and analyse its environment and move around with little or no human intervention. In order to move safely, the car will capture thousands of pieces of data using its various sensors located in its interior. This data will then be processed by the car's autonomous driving computer system. The autonomous car must also be trained to understand its environment in order to be able to make decisions according to the different situations in which it may find itself.
    Everyone faces moral decisions every day. When a driver chooses to brake to avoid hitting a pedestrian, he or she is making a moral decision to pass on the risk to the pedestrian to the people in the car with them. Consider a car with damaged brakes speeding towards two individuals: a grandmother and a child. By swerving a little, one of the two people can be saved. In this situation, the car's trained algorithm will make the decision instead of the human driver. Which person should be saved? Do you think there is only one right answer in this case? The choice is difficult for the human. This is a typical dilemma that shows the importance of ethics in the development of artificial intelligence, and in technology on a larger scale.
  • Other examples of ethical dilemmas exist with the use of artificial intelligence in the fields of art or in legal systems.


To address this problem of ethical dilemmas, UNESCO has prepared a comprehensive legal document on the ethics of AI.

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