Topic: Introduction to Virtue Ethics in AI
Virtue ethics, moral character, technology ethics
- What is virtue ethics and how does it apply to AI?
- How can AI and technology shape human character?
- How can we develop AI systems that promote virtue?
Shannon Vallor’s Technology and the Virtues: A Philosophical Guide to a Future Worth Wanting
This video below is a little newer, but the recording quality isn’t great (echo).
for facilitation schedule
Reading: "After Virtue" - Alasdair MacIntyre
Chapter 20 in
Summary: In this seminal work, MacIntyre critiques modern moral philosophy and advocates for a return to Aristotelian virtue ethics. He argues that moral concepts are culturally situated and makes the case for the importance of community and tradition in ethical reasoning. Students will discuss how these ideas might be applied in the context of AI ethics.
- How does MacIntyre's critique of modern moral philosophy apply to the use and development of AI?
- What role does community and tradition play in the ethics of AI according to MacIntyre's perspective?
- How might AI systems be designed or used in a way that promotes virtue and aligns with MacIntyre's vision of ethical behavior?
Journal / In Class Work
Group Activity: Designing a Community for Ethical AI
Objective: Using MacIntyre's emphasis on the importance of community and tradition in ethical reasoning, students will work in groups to design a community that fosters the ethical use and development of AI.
Instructions: Each group will create a "Community Blueprint for Ethical AI". This should be a visual and/or written representation of their ideal community, highlighting the virtues, traditions, and structures that would support ethical AI practices. You can make use of digital tools (Miro, Photoshop, Freeform, etc), sketches, or text to create this blueprint.
Examples of existing Communities:
These communities and organizations show different ways that groups can come together to focus on the ethical implications and applications of technology.
- AI Now Institute: This is a research institute focused on the social implications of artificial intelligence. Their work ranges from politics to media transparency and bias mitigation. They have a team of interdisciplinary researchers striving to understand the implications of AI and related technologies.
- Algorithmic Justice League (AJL): Founded by Joy Buolamwini, the AJL is a community that aims to raise public awareness about the impacts of AI, equip advocates with empirical research to bolster campaigns, build the voice and choice of most affected communities, and galvanize researchers, policymakers, and industry practitioners to mitigate AI harms and biases. They have successfully driven changes in policy and practices at influential institutions like IBM and Amazon.
- Data & Society: Data & Society is a research institute that focuses on the social and cultural issues arising from data-centric and automated technologies. They provide original research and convene multi-disciplinary thinkers to challenge the power and purpose of technology in society.
- The Partnership on AI: This partnership was established to study and formulate best practices on AI technologies and to advance the public's understanding of AI. Its partners include both corporations and non-profit organizations, and it aims to be a global platform for open discussion and engagement about AI and its influences on people and society.
- Discussion: Identify virtues and traditions that would support the ethical use and development of AI. Review some of the existing communities and see how they build their values. Your values should be rooted in every aspect of your community.
- Design: Each group should outline the characteristics of their community, such as its structure, values, rules, traditions, roles, etc., and how these elements encourage ethical AI practices. They should consider important aspects such as bias reduction, transparency of data, and accessibility.
- Structure: This community would be organized as a global online network of AI professionals, researchers, policymakers, and interested citizens. The structure of the community would foster interaction, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.
- Values: The key values for this community would be transparency, fairness, inclusivity, accountability, and respect for human dignity. These values would guide all community activities and decision-making processes.
- You can define these in mission or vision statements.
- Rules: The community would operate under a set of rules to ensure ethical behavior. For example, members must disclose any potential conflicts of interest in their work, and all AI-related work shared in the community must comply with principles of fairness and transparency.
- Traditions: To keep the values alive, the community could host regular events, such as a monthly "Ethics in AI" webinar, an annual conference, and small group discussions on specific topics. It might also maintain a public library of resources on AI ethics.
- Roles: Different roles could be established within the community. For instance, there could be mentors who guide newcomers, a council responsible for upholding community rules, and working groups focused on specific issues such as AI in healthcare or education.
- Activities: Community activities could include peer review of AI projects, discussion forums, shared research initiatives, and public advocacy for ethical AI policies. Additionally, the community could provide educational resources and training on ethical AI development.
- Presentation: Each group presents their community design to the class, explaining their choices and the virtues that their community promotes.
Through this community, members could learn from each other, foster a shared understanding of ethical AI, hold each other accountable, and contribute to a culture that prioritizes ethical considerations in the development and use of AI. Here’s an example of the things to include in building a community (keep in mind, yours should be more far more detailed than I’ve provided):
Journal & Reflection:
Once you’ve completed the activity, write a paragraph (~200 words) on one or more of the following questions
- How has this activity changed your understanding of the role of community and tradition in ethical AI?
- Which virtues being embodied and promoted in the community you designed?
- How would you see your role as an individual within this community?
Turn in to eLearning
Turn in your illustration or writeup done doing the group activity plus the 1 page writeup from your Journal & Reflection.