Ethics Is a Thing in 2022. Oh, Really?

September 5, 2022

When companies toss around the word ethics, I roll my eyes. If I am not mistaken, the high technology luminaries have created an ethical waste land. Each day more examples of peak a-ethical behavior flow to me in an electronic Cuyahoga River complete with flames, smoke, and nifty aromas. Now consider “ethical smart software.”

Why Embedding AI Ethics and Principles into Your Organization Is Critical” is an oddity, almost a prose elegiac appeal. On one hand, the essay admits ethical shortcomings exist. I noted:

Universal adoption of AI in all aspects of life will require us to think about its power, its purpose, and its impact. This is done by focusing on AI ethics and demanding that AI be used in an ethical manner. Of course, the first step to achieving this is to find agreement on what it means to use and develop AI ethically.

On the other hand, businesses must embrace ethics. That sounds like a stretch to me.

Just a possibly irrelevant question: What’s ethics mean? And another: What’s artificial intelligence?

No answers appear in the cited article.

What does appear is this statement:

 If you are not proactively prioritizing inclusivity (among the other ethical principles), you are inherently allowing your model to be subject to overt or internal biases. That means that the users of those AI models — often without knowing it — are digesting the biased results, which have practical consequences for everyday life.

Ah, “you.” I would submit that the cost of developing unbiased trained data means automated systems for building training data will be adopted and then packaged like sardines. The users of these data and the libraries of off-the-shelf models, numerical recipes, and workflow modules will further distance smart software from the pipes beneath the Pergo floor.

Costs and financial payoff, not the undefined and foggy “AI ethics”, will create some darned exciting social, political, and financial knock on effects. As I recall that bastion of MBA thinking added charcoal starter to the opioid opportunity. The world’s online bookstore struggles to cope with fake reviews and designer purses. The world’s largest online advertising outfit is — well, let’s just say — trying to look past its handling of smart software professionals who disagree with the company’s management about bias in AI/ML.

Quite a write up. The conclusion is swell too:

My organization’s development and use of AI is a minor subsection of AI in our world. We have committed to our ethical principles, and we hope that other technology firms do as well.


Stephen E Arnold, September 5, 2022


Comments are closed.

  • Archives

  • Recent Posts

  • Meta