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February 8, 2024 - 6 minutes

Cultural Awareness in Ethical AI: Addressing Ethical Dilemmas Globally

Discover more about AI’s development and current situation.

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Artificial Intelligence

One of the hottest topics to talk about in 2024 is the incredible power that artificial intelligence has, its impact, and the tech revolution that will no doubt happen down the line. Artificial intelligence hasn’t been available for use to the public for too long and yet it has already changed people’s lives in many ways, facilitating how people complete all types of tasks. 

Because of its power, far reach, and potential risks and issues for society, there has been some pushback, especially when ethical dilemmas are brought into the equation. But before we dive into the deeper moral questions that artificial intelligence presents, it’s important to know how artificial intelligence has developed into its status.

The History of Artificial Intelligence

Although ChatGPT launched for public use in November 2022, artificial intelligence has a story that began in the early 20th century. Here are some of the important events that have shaped the development of AI:

  • Science fiction roots: throughout fantasy and science fiction stories, robots and other automatons appeared and in the first half of the 1900s, the idea of artificially intelligent beings seeped into the minds of scientists and mathematicians alike, thanks to characters such as the Tin Man from Frank L Baum’s The Wizard of Oz. Great mathematicians, scientists, and philosophers started to grapple with AI as a possibility in the 1950s; one such example of such an individual would be mathematician Alan Turing who published “Computing Machinery and Intelligence.” But science wasn’t technologically ready to pursue that endeavor…yet. 

  • Ahead of their time: the first program that focused on artificial intelligence called the Logic Theorist was presented in 1956 at the Dartmouth Summer Research Project on Artificial Intelligence, where experts from around the globe met to discuss what they envisioned for the future of autonomous machines. The term artificial intelligence was coined by John McCarthy there and although he had hoped that the conference would achieve more, it did successfully unite these experts, motivate them to research AI, and make them believe that it was a real possibility. 

  • Does not compute: computers continued to improve and grow in power; however, they were still not where they needed to be to run more complex algorithms. Machine learning algorithms were slowly and steadily becoming more accurate and useful for all types of problem solving and governments started to see the value of artificial intelligence in the long term thanks to Moore’s Law, which stipulates that computing power such as memory and speed doubles annually. In the 1980s, there was some advancement when two experts named John Hopfield and David Rumelhart released their deep learning techniques that gave computers the opportunity to learn, thanks to experience. 

  • A chess match: Although some governments invested millions of dollars in AI programs, there was little progress made until the mid 1990s when IBM’s Deep Blue, a chess playing computer program, defeated Gary Kasparov, the reigning world chess champion. In the same year, Windows incorporated a speech recognition program developed by Dragon Systems onto their software; machines were entering a stage of development that surpassed human capabilities and allowed machines and humans to interact beyond a mere keyboard.

  • The age of big data: when computers and other devices reached sufficient computing power to handle artificial intelligence, it was time to take advantage of all the effort and research from scientists and AI experts. Businesses and companies have become more efficient and influential, thanks to the use of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and complex algorithms and these tools are now essential parts of their businesses. Collecting and analyzing the data from people’s devices, software can show you a world full of products that you want to see.

The curiosity of artificial intelligence has been paramount in motivating scientists from the last century to push the envelope even further than what they were capable of dreaming and because of all of their efforts, artificial intelligence is all around us in 2024.

Examples of Artificial Intelligence

Although you may not know it, artificial intelligence is everywhere and we interact with it daily. John McCarthy, the man who coined artificial intelligence, defined it as “the science and engineering of making intelligent machines, especially intelligent computer programs. It is related to the similar task of using computers to understand human intelligence, but AI does not have to confine itself to methods that are biologically observable.” 

Some examples of the intelligent machines and computer programs that we all use include the following:

  • Healthcare diagnosis and treatment

  • Medication development and discovery

  • Remote healthcare assistance

  • Chatbots and virtual assistants

  • AI-driven recruitment programs

  • Data analysis and insight generation

  • Financial decision-making

  • Forecast and weather modeling

  • Creative content creation

  • Cybersecurity solutions

  • Customer service and personalized marketing

  • Self-driving vehicles

  • Educational platforms

  • Infrastructure management 

These are some of the most common AI-powered softwares and programs that society depends on and uses daily across a wide variety of sectors because they create a more efficient and smooth society for all. Nevertheless, because artificial intelligence has such power, where does its limits and responsibility lie? 

The Ethical Dilemma

Our world is made up of diverse peoples, cultures, and governments and each one has their own perspective on what would be considered the ethical or moral choice. Sometimes though, an ethical dilemma occurs in which a decision must be made, but the options presented violate some sort of ethical principle. 

In the case of artificial intelligence, there are few limits on and human oversight over the decisions it can make and the data it can collect and analyze, but how do we go about restricting this technology and fully taking advantage of its benefits? There are a lot of questions to be answered sooner rather than later to decide how society continues to leverage artificial intelligence.

Examples of ethical dilemmas in AI

Some of the most pressing and controversial ethical dilemmas for artificial intelligence can be found in the following situations:

  • Accountability: when a self-driving car makes a decision that could cost lives, who will be the responsible party? Artificial intelligence takes action autonomously based on the data available without human oversight, so when it does make a choice that does harm, the liability needs to fall on someone’s shoulders. Determining who takes the blame is paramount and transparency into how AI reaches these decisions is an important point that could also build trust and settle this issue.

  • Employment: since AI has become so powerful, it’s crucial we think about how its automated processes could potentially complete the job of a human being and make their position redundant and unnecessary. This will cause unemployment for many and  have a huge impact on society and the economy down the road if we don’t prepare future generations to take jobs that won’t become redundant and upskill and reskill professionals that are already in the workforce. Mass unemployment is a real possibility in the future; however, with the proper preparation, society can mitigate its effect.

  • AI bias: although most don’t mention bias in artificial intelligence, one of the biggest issues surrounding its capabilities is the information it presents to its users. The job of these sophisticated machines and programs is to sift through a continuous stream of data and when the data is biased, the results are also equally as skewed. Consequently, AI may perpetuate and further spread these societal biases, impacting employment, education, finances, social media, and more. Society already has a huge problem with biases and addressing this issue is an important step in ensuring that humanity doesn’t allow AI to aggravate our societal problems further.

  • Data security: as we have already seen, artificial intelligence is constantly taking and analyzing our data to help make their decisions and learn more and simultaneously, we are allowing companies and social media to constantly access and collect that data. Whenever we search for something on applications, we are providing them with data about ourselves and a major concern for AI is our privacy. With the everyday use of our personal devices and interaction with the internet, we must protect our private data and striking a balance between artificial intelligence’s need for data and our own privacy is a difficult task that still hasn’t been solved.

Artificial intelligence is incredibly complicated and because of that complexity, humanity must know how to pull on the reins and maintain control over it. These ethical dilemmas have many layers to them and it will take time to create the rules and regulations that govern AI; nevertheless, artificial intelligence professionals from all over the world are already in the process of discussing and proposing the possible solutions to these problems.

As the world continues to integrate artificial intelligence more into our society, the need for professionals with expertise in artificial intelligence grows with it. If you would like to become an integral part of the discussion over artificial intelligence ethical dilemmas, consider taking the first step towards a tech career with Ironhack.

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