For years, major technology companies deployed AI with minimal consideration of the ethical repercussions of these systems. When these companies first launched their AI systems with speech mimicking, photo-tagging, and chatbots, there were few safeguards to protect consumers from harm and biases. In a positive sign of the times, last year industry leaders like Google, Microsoft, and IBM took steps to reject new AI technologies that failed their ethical guidelines. This article highlights a few poignant examples, showing a more sophisticated ethical review process in operation – a muscle that many large companies are developing.
Yet the academic and data science community as a whole is skeptical to trust the tech giants’ ethics. We have referenced Google’s mixed record in previous issues, including the firing of ethics leader Timnit Gebru and academics refusing funding from the company on ethical grounds.