Ethics of AI – Introduction

Why think about Ethics of AI:

We are experiencing a generational shift in the impact of technology in the human experience.  The infusion of technology into every aspect of life is changing the way we live our daily lives and the way businesses engage their customers, partners, and employees.    The transformation via technology is not simply the pervasiveness of apps, access to information, or intrusion into personal experiences, but even greater is the intelligence of machines themselves and the manner in which they replace activities previously performed by humans.  This intelligence and replacement or augmentation of human action is frequently described as “artificial intelligence”, which takes on many forms, levels, and capabilities.  The impact of this intelligence cannot be understated, both in its potential for good and its potential for mis-use or disaster.  A critical question at this moment is “how do we embody our use of artificial intelligence with ethics which reflect humanity’s best intentions for all people corporately, each person individually, and for the relationship between person and intelligent machine?”  I do not intend to answer all of the potential questions, nor could I, but I do intend to advance the conversation of ethics in artificial intelligence and how we can implement systems which benefit humanity and appropriately treat machines, as well as addressing some aspirational concerns which will eventually become very relevant.

State of Ethics of AI:

At the time of this writing, the definition of ethics for the AI industry are in their infancy, but make no mistake that we will ever enter a time where questions of ethics in AI cease, just as ethical questions in the human experience have not ceased.  There will be arguments, different standards, and varied approaches which will consume the greatest thinkers in all of philosophy, theology, science, and engineering.  There are many organizations who have developed initial sets of principals, but they exist with diverging intents, presuppositions, and levels of detail.  Garry Kasprov states “we should not worry about what our machines can do today.  We should worry about what our machines CANNOT do today”.  The intent of defining applied AI ethics is to understand the impact of AI to the world and how we apply moral principals through engineering and governance to address the things machines can and cannot do, as well as how we humans and machines relate to each other.

There are many organizations who have begun to define and implement machine oriented ethics.  The following are just a few such organizations that are already making an impact in this space, although no consensus has been arrived at, nor comprehensive models implemented:

Key Points:

I can’t answer the questions of artificial intelligence comprehensively (nor could anyone), but this content should serve to advance the conversation.  The key points I intend to drive in this conversation and hope to valuably contribute to the community are:

  1. Understanding the uniqueness and value of humanity is critical to governing our future in artificial intelligence
  2. We should seek to understand the areas where humanity and AI reach parity
  3. We should seek to understand how humanity is impacted by the advent of AI
  4. We should, despite those impacts, invest and leverage AI to positively benefit humanity and creation
  5. We should implement counter-balancing forces which respects the value of humanity even in scenarios where artificial intelligence has replaced some of humanity’s previous activity
  6. We should adequately prepare humanity for the changes in the AI powered economy, not just technically, but in matters of ethics and ideas
  7. We should understand and define proactively how a fully human equivalent AI would coexist with humanity and what its impact on humanity’s value is


The following chapters articulate the journey through the key points and the advancements of the conversation.

  1. The Human Difference
  2. The Definition of AI
  3. The Positive Impact of AI to Humanity
  4. The Negative Impact of AI to Humanity
  5. Considerations in Leveraging AI to Augment Humanity
  6. Considerations of Human Adaptation to AI Economy
  7. AI Ethics Model Definition
  8. AI Technical Models for Applying Ethics
  9. Legal Impact of AI Ethics
  10. Bias and Data Problem
  11. Testing for Ethics Models in AI
  12. Strong AI and the Human Difference
  13. Summary and Forward Direction

Let’s advance this conversation and ideally create additional intellectual capital in the necessity of ethically oriented artificial intelligence which positively impacts humanity and the greater world.

Nathan Lasnoski

One thought on “Ethics of AI – Introduction

  1. I wasn’t too concerned about the ethical (and moral) aspects of AI until I read, “Out Final Invention” by James Barrat… and now I am concerned. If a vast majority of the people creating and designing AI software don’t have a moral compass other than their own personal desires, what are the odds that the software they create will be any better?


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