Is responsible AI synonymous with AI ethics?

December 14, 2022 | 5 minute read
Sanjay Basu PhD
Senior Director - Gen AI/GPU Cloud Engineering
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The terms “responsible AI” and “AI ethics” are often used interchangeably, but they refer to two distinct concepts. While both are concerned with ensuring that artificial intelligence (AI) is developed and used in a way that is fair, safe, and beneficial to society, they approach this goal from different perspectives.

Responsible AI focuses on the practical aspects of implementing ethical principles in the development and deployment of AI systems. It involves creating processes, systems, and tools to ensure that AI is designed and used in a way that aligns with ethical values and considers the potential impacts on society. This area can include things like establishing governance structures, developing ethical guidelines and frameworks, and creating mechanisms for transparency and accountability.

AI ethics, on the other hand, refers to the philosophical and moral principles that underlie the development and use of AI. It involves examining the ethical implications of AI technologies, considering the potential consequences of their use, and determining what actions and policies are morally right or wrong. This area can include things like examining the fairness of AI algorithms, considering the potential impact of AI on society and individuals, and determining how to balance the benefits of AI with the potential drawbacks.

In short, responsible AI is about creating systems and processes to ensure that AI is developed and used in an ethical manner, while ethics in AI is about understanding and analyzing the ethical implications of AI technologies. Both are important for ensuring that AI is used in a way that’s fair, safe, and beneficial to society.

Who should be responsible for development and upkeep of responsible AI?

The development and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) technology has the potential to greatly impact society and the economy, making it a topic of significant debate and discussion. One important question is whether the responsible development of AI should be primarily the responsibility of engineers including the product owners, or whether it should be governed by policy and governance.

Some argue that the responsibility for ensuring the responsible development of AI should fall primarily on the shoulders of engineers. These individuals design and build AI systems, and so they have the expertise and knowledge necessary to ensure that these systems are developed in a safe and ethical manner. They can use their knowledge of AI and its capabilities to design systems that avoid bias, protect user privacy, and prevent misuse. Along with engineers, this groups can include other AI professionals too. As my esteemed colleague JR Gauthier states, “ensuring that an AI system is fair, unbiased, [and] ethical is the responsibility of the product owner, the owner of the AI system. Defining what’s ethical for any AI system is very hard to do and most (if not all) engineers are not trained or skilled to answer that question. It should really be a group made of the product owner, the AI system dev lead, legal counsel, CRO or risk officer, [and more].”

On the other hand, others argue that the responsibility for ensuring the responsible development of AI should be the domain of policy and governance. AI technology has the potential to impact society and the economy on a large scale, and so it requires oversight and regulation to ensure that its use is safe and beneficial for all. Policymakers and government officials can create regulations and guidelines to ensure that AI is developed and used in a responsible manner, and they can hold organizations accountable if they fail to do so.

So far, the progress in this space isn’t very satisfactory. Neither any prescriptive steps to create ethical AI or any actionable items have been made.

While both engineering and policy and governance have important roles to play in ensuring the responsible development of AI, the responsibility ultimately falls on both to work together to ensure that AI is developed and used in a way that’s safe and beneficial for society. Engineers can use their expertise to design and build AI systems that are safe and ethical, while policymakers and government officials can create regulations and guidelines to ensure that these systems are used in a responsible manner. By working together, we can ensure that AI technology is used to benefit humanity and improve our world.

Who should be responsible for AI ethics for the industries and society?

AI has been growing rapidly in the past few years, and with its increasing presence in day-to-day business operations, organizations have started to recognize the need for ethical practices when it comes to how they use AI. As such, several key players have emerged as responsible for developing standards and guidelines for the ethical use of AI within the enterprise.

Governments have been involved in the development of AI ethics. Some countries, such as China, have already implemented regulations that govern the use of AI within enterprises. Other countries are beginning to develop their own regulations on how organizations can ethically deploy AI tools to protect consumers and workers. Governments are also taking part in international discussions to ensure that common standards are established on a global level.

With governments, individual businesses have also recognized the importance of ethical AI development and usage within their organizations. Companies are now taking steps toward ensuring that their AI systems are following ethical guidelines, such as conducting risk assessments, understanding relevant regulations and laws, and using AI responsibly. Moreover, some organizations have created dedicated ethical committees or positions to oversee the development and deployment of AI technology within their organizations.

Numerous non-profits and research institutes are working toward establishing ethical standards for how companies can use AI to protect consumers and employees. These organizations include the Partnership on Artificial Intelligence, the Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence, and the Responsible AI Initiative. They’re actively researching and developing industry guidelines and creating awareness campaigns to ensure that companies are using AI responsibly.

To summarize, governments, businesses, and research organizations have all been involved in the development of ethical standards for how AI can be used within enterprises. This important step helps ensure that businesses are using AI responsibly and protecting consumers and employees.

How Oracle can help

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Want to learn more? See the following resources:

Sanjay Basu PhD

Senior Director - Gen AI/GPU Cloud Engineering

Sanjay focuses on the advanced services like Generative AI, Machine-Learning, GPU Engineering, Blockchain, Microservices, Industrial IoT, 5G core along with Cloud Security and Compliance. He has double masters in Computer Science and Systems Design. His PhD was in Organizational Behaviour and Applied Neuroscience. Currently, he is pursuing his second PhD in AI. His focus of research is Retentive Networks.


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