Ethics and rhetoric: things AI can do we can do better

The ever erudite, always entertaining Alan Finkel spoke at a “collaboration and commercialisation summit” on artificial intelligence yesterday

It was the usual Chief Scientist’s quality address, rather making his point that whatever AI can do better than humans, it does not know how to make a speech about ethics. “We remain solely capable of putting thoughts together for a speech … our unique human ability to meditate on the known and unknown, … will be critical as we delve into the challenge of ensuring our zeal for innovation never betrays our values, “he said.

Which was his point; what’s next in AI, “requires the application of ethics rather than physics” and a focus on “clear benefits to everyday Australians.”

He nominates medical diagnostics, financial services and agriculture as industries where AI can serve us. Where it can, but should not, is in analysing surveillance data of all our lives.

This will require policy at interface of ethics and utility and is where Dr Finkel sees the need for academics outside computing, “in academic leaders in ethics, philosophy, law and business.“

“As a reservoir of ideas, and a touchstone of our morality, input from across our universities will be crucial as we navigate the uncharted waters of promoting A.I.’s promise, while safeguarding against its potential perils.”


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