Are you looking for examples and case studies of ethics of artificial intelligence (AI)? Would you like to understand how these ethical issues can be addressed? If so, our new book will interest you: “Ethics of Artificial Intelligence – Case Studies and Options for Addressing Ethical Challenges” by Bernd Carsten Stahl, Doris Shroeder & Rowena Rodrigues published in November 2023.
The book contributes to the rapidly growing and critical discussion of the ethical questions around AI. One might think that is there no room for another book on AI ethics. This book addresses a gap and contributes to the discussion.
Existing books cover conceptual questions on the nature of AI ethics, explore specific issues of applications, such as algorithmic bias, and develop many suggestions on how the ethical questions can be addressed. What was missing so far is a book of cases that demonstrates the breadth of issues and explores how these issues could be addressed. This gap in the AI ethics literature is what we sought to fill, given the importance of using real-life cases in facilitating the understanding of ethical issues in any technology.
Our book started with the EU-funded Horizon 2020 SHERPA project, but other projects such as the Human Brain Project, and SIENNA also contributed to the research we undertook to explore ethical issues of AI and emerging technologies.
The book covers cases that are in the public domain and have generated discussion. For each of the cases, presented as short vignettes, we offer an analysis of the relevant ethical issue, why it might be considered an ethical issue and what could be done about it.
We start with what is probably the most widely discussed ethical issue in AI, namely unfair and illegal discrimination. This issue is exemplified by discriminatory practices in job selection that includes gender bias or the treatment of individuals by automated systems that incorporate bias based on ethnicity.
We then cover the case of privacy violations, a well-discussed topic that can raise novel concerns due to the capabilities of AI.
The next case focuses on what has been called ‘surveillance capitalism’ (Zuboff, 2019), which is focused on the increased power and influence of the organisations that control AI resources. This can and often does spill over into the case of manipulation where AI-derived insights are used to manipulate, for example, democratic elections. Individual purchasing decisions are also potentially subject to AI-drive manipulation. AI, furthermore, raises threats to fundamental human rights, including the rights to life, liberty and security.
These lead to our discussion of the case of dignity. This case is concerned with how AI can affect how human beings are treated in ways that affect their dignity. Our final case looks at helicopter research and how AI can create ethical issues under the umbrella of promoting the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
These cases will interest individuals and organisations engaged in thinking about and addressing ethical questions of AI.
The focus of the book is not just on illustrating the ethical issues using real-life cases but also on providing practical suggestions on what can be done to address them. These suggestions assume that AI is not so much an individual technology or even a family of technologies but an enabler of specific socio-technical ecosystems. Ethical concerns are therefore not easily localised but must be considered and addressed from a perspective that is sensitive to the way in which social and technical systems interact in often difficult to predict ways.
This idea was developed earlier in a book on “Artificial Intelligence for a Better Future: An Ecosystem Perspective on the Ethics of AI and Emerging Digital Technologies” (Stahl, 2021). This book proposed ways of dealing with the ethics of AI which is now described in more detail in relation to specific case studies. It explored how specific interventions might play out in practice, for example how an AI impact assessment could be used to prevent bias and discrimination, which legislative developments would be desirable or how AI development methodologies based on ethics by design might be employed.
The combination of real-life cases, covered in our book, with plausible interventions and mitigations makes the book a unique resource. We hope that it can inspire researchers working on AI to find ways to prevent and address ethical concerns. It will also be useful in teaching and educational settings as the case study method is an effective way to achieving good learning outcomes. The same is true for policy interventions, where insights into the practical uses of AI and their consequences can illustrate the potential value of policy-oriented interventions.
Thanks to the European policy on Open Access, we can offer the electronic version of this book free of charge. You can download Ethics of Artificial Intelligence – Case Studies and Options for Addressing Ethical Challenges. We hope it will inspire reflection and action to enhance ethical AI.
This text was written by Bernd Stahl, Doris Schroeder & Rowena Rodrigues.
Stahl, B. C. (2021). Artificial Intelligence for a Better Future: An Ecosystem Perspective on the Ethics of AI and Emerging Digital Technologies. Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-69978-9
Stahl, B. C., Rodrigues, R., & Schroeder, D. (2023). Ethics of Artificial Intelligence: Case Studies and Options for Addressing Ethical Challenges. Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-031-17040-9
Zuboff, P. S. (2019). The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power (1st edition). Profile Books.