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How Future AI Systems Make the Ethical Choices

Artificial intelligence (AI) is already making decisions in the fields of business, health care and manufacturing. But AI algorithms generally still get help from people applying checks and making the final call. However, the issue of trust escalates when AI systems have to make independent decisions that could mean life or death for humans.

Unlike humans, robots lack a moral conscience and follow the “ethics” programmed into them. At the same time, human morality is highly variable. The “right” thing to do in any situation will depend on the person. For machines to help us to their full potential, humans need to make sure they behave ethically. So the question becomes: how do the ethics of AI developers and engineers influence the decisions made by AI?

In a future with self-driving cars that are fully autonomous, If everything works as intended, the morning commute will be an opportunity to prepare for the day’s meetings, catch up on news, or sit back and relax. However, when things go wrong, for example, the car approaches a traffic light, but suddenly the brakes fail and the computer has to make a split-second decision. It can swerve into a nearby pole and kill the passenger, or keep going and kill the pedestrian ahead.

The computer controlling the car will only have access to limited information collected through car sensors and will have to make a decision based on this. Autonomous cars will generally provide safer driving, but accidents will be inevitable—especially in the foreseeable future when these cars will be sharing the roads with human drivers and other road users.

A big car company does not yet produce fully autonomous cars, although it plans to. In collision situations, the cars do not automatically operate or deactivate the Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system if a human driver is in control. In other words, the driver’s actions are not disrupted—even if they themselves are causing the collision. Instead, if the car detects a potential collision, it sends alerts to the driver to take action.

In “autopilot” mode, however, the car should automatically brake for pedestrians. Some argue if the car can prevent a collision, then there is a moral obligation for it to override the driver’s actions in every scenario. But would we want an autonomous car to make this decision?

A car’s computer could evaluate the relative “value” of the passenger in its car and of the pedestrian. If its decision considered this value, technically it would just be making a cost-benefit analysis. There are already technologies being developed that could allow for this to happen.

Through the Moral Machine experiment, researchers posed various self-driving car scenarios that compelled participants to decide whether to kill a homeless pedestrian or an executive pedestrian. Results revealed participants’ choices depended on the level of economic inequality in their country, wherein more economic inequality meant they were more likely to sacrifice the homeless man.

There have been many philosophical debates regarding the ethical decisions AI will have to make. The classic example of this is the trolley problem. People often struggle to make decisions that could have a life-changing outcome. When evaluating how to react to such situations, one study reported choices can vary depending on a range of factors including the respondent’s age, gender and culture.

AI is not good or evil. The effects it has on people will depend on the ethics of its developers. So to make the most of it, humans need to reach a consensus on what we consider “ethical.” While private companies, public organisations and research institutions have their own guidelines for ethical AI, the United Nations has recommended developing what they call “a comprehensive global standard-setting instrument” to provide a global ethical AI framework—and ensure human rights are protected.

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Qlik’s vision is a data-literate world, where everyone can use data and analytics to improve decision-making and solve their most challenging problems. A private company, Qlik offers real-time data integration and analytics solutions, powered by Qlik Cloud, to close the gaps between data, insights and action. By transforming data into Active Intelligence, businesses can drive better decisions, improve revenue and profitability, and optimize customer relationships. Qlik serves more than 38,000 active customers in over 100 countries.

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As a Titanium Black Partner of Dell Technologies, CTC Global Singapore boasts unparalleled access to resources.

Established in 1972, we bring 52 years of experience to the table, solidifying our position as a leading IT solutions provider in Singapore. With over 300 qualified IT professionals, we are dedicated to delivering integrated solutions that empower your organization in key areas such as Automation & AI, Cyber Security, App Modernization & Data Analytics, Enterprise Cloud Infrastructure, Workplace Modernization and Professional Services.

Renowned for our consulting expertise and delivering expert IT solutions, CTC Global Singapore has become the preferred IT outsourcing partner for businesses across Singapore.

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Planview has one mission: to build the future of connected work. Our solutions enable organizations to connect the business from ideas to impact, empowering companies to accelerate the achievement of what matters most. Planview’s full spectrum of Portfolio Management and Work Management solutions creates an organizational focus on the strategic outcomes that matter and empowers teams to deliver their best work, no matter how they work. The comprehensive Planview platform and enterprise success model enables customers to deliver innovative, competitive products, services, and customer experiences. Headquartered in Austin, Texas, with locations around the world, Planview has more than 1,300 employees supporting 4,500 customers and 2.6 million users worldwide. For more information, visit www.planview.com.

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SIRIM is a premier industrial research and technology organisation in Malaysia, wholly-owned by the Minister​ of Finance Incorporated. With over forty years of experience and expertise, SIRIM is mandated as the machinery for research and technology development, and the national champion of quality. SIRIM has always played a major role in the development of the country’s private sector. By tapping into our expertise and knowledge base, we focus on developing new technologies and improvements in the manufacturing, technology and services sectors. We nurture Small Medium Enterprises (SME) growth with solutions for technology penetration and upgrading, making it an ideal technology partner for SMEs.

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HashiCorp provides infrastructure automation software for multi-cloud environments, enabling enterprises to unlock a common cloud operating model to provision, secure, connect, and run any application on any infrastructure. HashiCorp tools allow organizations to deliver applications faster by helping enterprises transition from manual processes and ITIL practices to self-service automation and DevOps practices. 

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IBM is a leading global hybrid cloud and AI, and business services provider. We help clients in more than 175 countries capitalize on insights from their data, streamline business processes, reduce costs and gain the competitive edge in their industries. Nearly 3,000 government and corporate entities in critical infrastructure areas such as financial services, telecommunications and healthcare rely on IBM’s hybrid cloud platform and Red Hat OpenShift to affect their digital transformations quickly, efficiently and securely. IBM’s breakthrough innovations in AI, quantum computing, industry-specific cloud solutions and business services deliver open and flexible options to our clients. All of this is backed by IBM’s legendary commitment to trust, transparency, responsibility, inclusivity and service.