Ethics and Technology

The ABC of Responsible AI

Written by Maximilian Kiener

 

Amazon’s Alexa recently told a ten-year-old girl to touch a live plug with a penny, encouraging the girl to do what could potentially lead to severe burns or even the loss of an entire limb.[1] Fortunately, the girl’s mother heard Alexa’s suggestion, intervened, and made sure her daughter stayed safe.

But what if the girl had been hurt? Who would have been responsible: Amazon for creating Alexa, the parents for not watching their daughter, or the licensing authorities for allowing Alexa to enter the market?

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Cross Post: Why you might want to think twice about surrendering online privacy for the sake of convenience

Written by Carissa Veliz

DPhil Candidate in Philosophy, Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford

This article was originally published in The Conversation

Just a click away once you tick this too-long-to-read privacy agreement. Shutterstock

It is inconvenient to guard one’s privacy, and the better one protects it, the more inconvenience one must endure. Enjoying privacy, at a minimum, demands installing software to block tracking online, using long and different passwords for online services, remembering to turn off the WiFi and Bluetooth signals on your mobile phone when leaving the house, using cash, and so on. Continue reading

An Ethics for Maintenance?

Last Sunday, Sasago Tunnel – a major tunnel in Japan – collapsed and caused nine deaths. And, according to the latest report, Central Nippon Expressway (Nexco), the company in charge of the tunnel, might be the party to blame as it is reported that they “had relied on rudimentary visual inspections…, with no reinforcement or repairs since construction [of the tunnel] in 1977”.

This tragic incident has prompted me to (re)consider the ethical dimension of maintenance of technologies and infrastructures. Surprisingly, although philosophers and ethicists have began to explore ethical issues surrounding new and emerging technologies, such as biotechnology, nanotechnology, information technology, etc., not many of them have written on the normative issues of maintenance. This is curious, because, unless we assume the technologies and infrastructures will last forever without degradation, there is minimally a need for assigning the responsibility for maintaining their functionality. Here, the case of Sasago Tunnel might be relatively easy, as we could point at Nexco, which, in some sense, owns the tunnel; and, the same may be true of many consumer products too. Since they are ours, we are responsible for maintaining them. Perhaps, this is why the questions about maintenance are very much ignored by philosophers and ethicists, as they present no special ethical problem. Continue reading

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