The introduction of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies has significantly changed how we live, work and connect with one another – and it will continue to do so.
The question, then, is whether it can and will have any bearing on our ethics, writes Mergan Velayudan, Acting CIO at MultiChoice Group.
At its core, the concept of human ethics revolves around distinguishing what is right from wrong. It is like a set of guidelines founded on our beliefs, shaped by the communities of which we’re a part.
Human ethics are deeply rooted in cultural, social, and historical contexts. They reflect the evolving values of societies. Ethical norms guide our behaviours and decisions, forming the foundation of human interactions.
So can AI, devoid of human experiences and emotions, develop its own sense of ethics? The answer is complex, and this is why…
AI is designed by humans, and its decisions are guided by algorithms that are driven by data.
Robots and AI systems can be programmed with rules and guidelines to align their actions with human ethical standards.
However, this alignment does not inherently imply the possession of ethics by AI. Instead, it underscores the importance of human agency in designing AI systems that adhere to ethical principles.
When thinking about the ethics of AI, there are two important things to consider; first, we need to look at how the AI system acts on its own, and second, we must study how people use this AI system to achieve their goals.
It is important to understand that there’s a distinction between the outcomes AI produces and whether those outcomes are morally right and acceptable, which is usually determined by humans.
Impact of AI morality
As AI advances, the traditional boundaries of ethical frameworks may be challenged.
AI’s capacity for autonomy and decision-making prompts us to reevaluate how ethical principles are applied, to ensure technology respects societal values.
Technology, of which AI forms an increasingly fundamental part, does not decide what is ethical.
Instead, society decides what’s right or wrong, and then we make rules for technology to follow.
Our ethics, which reflect the shared values of the majority, should always come first.
Any new technology, regardless of the impact it has and what it can achieve, must abide by the guidelines and principles set in place by humans.
The problem, however, is the pace at which technology evolves often opens gaps in our regulations – which makes it difficult to determine what it will do and how to make sure it’s used ethically.
Throughout our human history, new technologies have provoked uncertainty, but societies have eventually adapted by establishing rules and norms.
This adaptability underscores the importance of our role in shaping the ethical landscape that underpins AI.
Human ethics should guide technological advancements – this approach safeguards the integrity of our ethical foundation while accounting for advancing AI systems.
Human in the loop
Navigating the complex relationship between AI and human morality introduces both challenges and opportunities, especially for technology-led companies, like MultiChoice South Africa.
The responsibility of businesses in this context is multi-faceted.
In advocating for the benefits of technology, we need to understand and acknowledge that the determination of morality ultimately rests with our customers.
Thus human involvement in systems remains paramount. While AI can provide answers, human oversight ensures ethical considerations aren’t compromised.
An example of this, in the context of involving people, is what’s called “human in the loop” systems.
In instances where we rely on AI to be about 80% accurate, the remaining 20% of the accuracy comes from a human – together resulting in a 100% accurate and acceptable result.
In simple terms, a human in the loop system means that an actual human being provides some kind of oversight to help improve AI’s accuracy, for the benefit of the end user.
This kind of system is especially important in the context of operations like credit scoring or risk profiling.
Human judgement plays a massive role in guiding the outcome of these tests. In these instances, relying solely on an algorithm would be an irresponsible approach.
A core component of this collaborative system is accountability. At MultiChoice, we have established our own AI ethics and governance policy.
These guiding principles underscore our dedication to the responsible integration of AI.
We remain steadfast in our commitment to ensuring that these principles are thoroughly embedded in every AI system we develop and deploy.
The integration of AI into our lives is reshaping how we interact with technology and the world, but the ethical foundations upon which human societies are built remain unchanged.
The implications of AI on human morality necessitate a delicate balance between technological advancements and ethical norms.
Society, armed with the wisdom of history and guided by collective values, should hold the power to define AI’s ethical boundaries.
As AI continues to evolve, its intersection with human morality is a reminder of the responsibility and accountability businesses have in navigating the potential of any emerging technology.