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Some assembly required: building an interdisciplinary superteam to tackle AI ethics

Harvard Business School Digital Initiative – “What do a communications studies professor, a politics PhD, a technology policy advisor, and a machine learning engineer have in common? They share deep expertise in the ethics and governance of artificial intelligence — and they’re members of the 2019 Assembly program. Hosted by the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society and the MIT Media Lab, Assembly brings together a small cohort of technologists, managers, policymakers, and other professionals to confront emerging problems related to the ethics and governance of AI.

AI technologies are increasingly embedded in our lives at home and work — powering our virtual assistants, moderating content on social networking platforms, and helping companies hire new employees. Yet, as AI technologies become more ubiquitous, applying them can raise serious ethical concerns. AI systems are trained using data from the past to make decisions or predictions about the future. This can pose serious risks as societal biases embedded in data get baked into new technical systems. Biased algorithmic outputs are opaque; sometimes even a system’s programmers aren’t sure how a prediction was made. In a world plagued by systemic bias, how do we create AI systems that reduce inequality, rather than perpetuate it? What frameworks can companies use to determine if the application of a machine learning system is unethical? How do we bring communities impacted by AI systems into conversations about AI design and use?..”

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