Welcome to the EI weekly round-up; a curation of quality posts to help you cut through the noise and get right to the heart of the discussion on AI and Tech Ethics.
Every Tuesday we publish a list of links to articles and debates that have happened over the past week in the community, allowing you to stay as up-to-date as possible on developments and facts. We will often link to arguments from all sides of the debate, even if the opinions may be controversial. We would like to mention, however, that EI does not endorse any of the information published, all links are reflections of the author's opinions and not that of Ethical Intelligence.
Last week we were busy hosting an ethics workshop on COVID-19, so this week is a double post!
The Postdigital in Pandemic Times: a Comment on the Covid-19 Crisis and its Political Epistemologies
What does the ‘digital’ and ‘digitalization’ mean today, for education and in general? Instead of jumping to an abstract theoretical discussion in the literature, let me start with something concrete, very concrete unfortunately: the current Covid-19 pandemic that currently disrupts our lives and societies.
Identifying Bias in Hospital Length of Stay Algorithm
"Recognizing the need to support shorter lengths of stay, Dr. John Fahrenbach, a data scientist at the University of Chicago Medicine (UCM), developed a machine learning model that used clinical characteristics to identify patients most suitable for discharge after 48 hours."
"After introducing zip codes into the model, however, a team member who reviewed the output raised concerns."
Checking AI bias is a job for the humans
"By pre-processing or post-processing data, or even setting datasets to expire, humans can step in to correct machine learning models"
Fairness and AI
Sandra Wachter on why fairness cannot be automated.
"In our paper, we analyzed the case law of the European Court of Justice and abstracted what the court considers to be “fair” based on its case law of nondiscrimination cases over recent decades.
In a second step, we compared the Court’s notion of fairness to the current technical fairness metrics that have been developed by the computer science community."
Leveraging AI to Battle This Pandemic — And The Next One
"Throughout the pandemic, great emphasis has been placed on the sharing (or lack of it) of critical information across countries — in particular from China — about the spread of the disease. By contrast, relatively little has been said about how Covid-19 could have been better managed by leveraging the advanced data technologies that have transformed businesses over the past 20 years. In this article we discuss one way that governments could leverage those technologies in managing a future pandemic — and perhaps even the closing phases of the current one."
"Implementing the technological innovations, however, will require policy changes. Existing policies covering data privacy and cybersecurity, and their respective and differing interpretations across countries, will largely prohibit the kind of personalized pandemic management approach we are advocating."
Google’s medical AI was super accurate in a lab. Real life was a different story.
"If AI is really going to make a difference to patients we need to know how it works when real humans get their hands on it, in real situations."
Israeli Doctors Warn Shin Bet Surveillance Actually Hindering Efforts to Combat Coronavirus
"Physicians' association claims the security service's use of technology to identify people who have come in contact with carriers of the coronavirus is not providing the right information "
Contact-tracing apps are not a solution to the COVID-19 crisis
"We are concerned by this rising enthusiasm for automated technology as a centerpiece of infection control. Between us, we hold extensive expertise in technology, law and policy, and epidemiology. We have serious doubts that voluntary, anonymous contact tracing through smartphone apps—as Apple, Google, and faculty at a number of academic institutions all propose—can free Americans of the terrible choice between staying home or risking exposure. We worry that contact-tracing apps will serve as vehicles for abuse and disinformation, while providing a false sense of security to justify reopening local and national economies well before it is safe to do so. Our recommendations are aimed at reducing the harm of a technological intervention that seems increasingly inevitable."
Advancing AI ethics beyond compliance
"Ethical considerations must be elevated in the dialogue about AI systems across the business landscape. The level of cognitive understanding between humans and machines is inherently lower than it is between humans and other humans, yet the latter arena has been structured for centuries around ethics. Since AI relies on huge computing power, it can derive insight from massive amounts of data that would challenge human cognition. Relying only on traditional ethical approaches to decision making may be insufficient in addressing AI-powered decisions."
How ‘Bias Bounties’ May Put Ethics Principles Into Practice
"The recently published paper suggests ten different approaches to turn AI ethics principles into practice. Taking a look at the recent efforts, more than 80 organisations have come up with different AI ethics principles. However, the authors of the paper firmly believe that the present set of norms and regulations is insufficient to develop a responsible AI. The team has also advised on ‘red-teaming’ to detect susceptibility, along with aligning with third-party auditing and government policies to create new regulations specific to market needs."
White Paper on Data Ethics in Public Procurement
"The present white paper covers one pivotal general area of AI adoption in Europe in which a standardized general European approach is of key importance to the adoption of AI that truly respects fundamental rights and values in its governance structures, management systems, and technical, legal and social components."
State Power to Regulate Social Media Companies to Prevent Voter Suppression
"State lawmakers should not be deterred by arguments that Section 230 of the federal Communications Act of 1934 “immunizes” social media companies from State liability. This Essay explains that Section 230 does not limit the power of States to hold social media companies legally responsible for using data collection and algorithms to target protected classes of voters with suppressive ads. By using such techniques, social media companies contribute materially to discrimination and are thus ineligible for Section 230 immunity."
Research summary: Different Intelligibility for Different Folks
"...there is a large problem in the current approach in the sense that there isn’t enough being done to meet the needs of a diverse set of stakeholders who require different kinds of intelligibility that is understandable to them and helps them meet their needs and goals. One might argue that a deeply technical explanation ought to suffice and others kinds of explanations might be derived from that but it makes them inaccessible to those who can’t parse well the technical details, often those who are the most impacted by such systems. This paper by Yishan Zhou and David Danks offers a framework to situate the different kinds of explanations such that they are able to meet the stakeholders where they are at and provide explanations that not only help them meet their needs but ultimately engender a higher level of trust from them by highlighting better both the capabilities and limitations of the systems."
Aligning AI to Human Values means Picking the Right Metrics
"How can we evaluate whether any particular product is ultimately producing positive outcomes for people and society? In principle we could create metrics that capture important aspects of the effect of an AI system on human lives, just as cities and countries today record a large variety of statistical indicators. These metrics would be useful to the teams building and operating the system, to researchers who want to understand what the system is doing, and as a transparency and accountability tool."
Ethics at a Distance
We may feel individually powerless to contribute to social transformation. But each of us bears responsibility for helping to create a more just world.