Ethical and social issues in AI

April 23, 2019 11:25
As AI develops fast and finds its way into a growing number of applications, the technology brings challenges in relation to preventing its misuse. Photo: Bloomberg

As artificial intelligence (AI) gets deployed in a host of applications and for various purposes, it is throwing up some social and ethical issues.

Every new innovation can be applied for good or bad purposes. For example, Face recognition programs and chat robots offer us various algorithms that can give us best solutions, and numerous algorithms can generate huge economic benefits, but they can also stoke problems such as gender and race discrimination.

Are we progressing fast or we are closing in on the safety limits?

As data about our economic life, culture and other activities is probably going to be collected at anytime and anywhere in the future, the ownership of these data becomes an issue.

Data is an essential part of smart systems. But does that mean data is used without accountability and scrutiny?

AI has great potential, but the technology can also be abused. Transparency has not improved in relation to its use, even as the technology is gaining in complexity.

Last month, the US Department of Housing and Urban Development accused a leading advertiser of causing discrimination by restricting people from seeing specific version of ads based on their race, national origin, and religion.

The same kind of discrimination can be found elsewhere involving algorithms. For example, job ads on primary school teachers are more likely to be shown to women customers, while cleaning-work recruitment ads are shown more to minority groups.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on April 18

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Venture Partner of Sequoia Capital China, former head of the data committee and vice president at Alibaba Group.