Using AI Responsibly and Ethically

With great power comes great responsibility.

Over the past several years, we’ve developed a few new superpowers as a result of modern AI. These new AI-enabled superpowers have led to some rather concerning legal, ethical, and social issues.

For example, we can now manipulate consumer purchase decisions based on a customer’s behavioral profile. We can now generate propaganda and fake news on an unprecedented scale. We can also impersonate politicians, celebrities, and executives with deep fakes. And this is all possible with today’s technology — the next generation of AI tools will likely lead to even more significant ethical concerns.

So how do we use our new AI superpowers responsibly and ethically?

Here are my top five recommendations:

Start Asking the Difficult Questions Now

However, you do need to be thinking about what your core values are and whether they agree with or conflict with these new AI-created dilemas. Each of us needs to know where we stand on these key issues before they take us by surprise. Unfortunately, these societal changes are happening much faster than our social institutions are currently prepared to handle.

Avoid Bias in Your AI Models

To make matters worse, these model-encoded biases can create feedback loops that can further reinforce and amplify existing socio-economic divisions in our society. This will make it progressively more difficult for disadvantaged individuals to compete with those who are advantaged by existing biases in our social norms, structures, and institutions.

Provide Transparency in Your AI Decisions

To do this, you should always use the simplest tool that effectively solves a given problem. Don’t use a deep neural network if a simple decision-tree classifier will suffice. In addition, use explainable AI tools when possible. Ask yourself, could I explain to a judge how this decision was made? If not, then it’s not transparent.

Protect Your Private Data From Abuse

Think about what you are willing to make public and protect everything that you want to remain private. Only entrust your personal data to organizations that you trust can and will protect your data. If you don’t, your data may be used against you somewhere down the line, and you will likely not even know that it’s happening.

Demand More From Our Leaders

In addition, you need to choose the right corporations to lead our economy in the right direction. You vote for these corporations every time you spend your money on their products and services. Please vote for them with your dollars and hold them accountable if and when they fail us.

With great power comes great responsibility and with AI we have the greatest responsibility known to humankind.

To learn how to use AI responsibility and ethically, please watch my free online course: Artificial Intelligence: Preparing Your Career for AI.

Originally published at on September 1, 2020.

I’m a data science consultant, author, and public speaker. I’m a Microsoft MVP, an ASPInsider, and a Pluralsight author. I’ve taught over 250k devs & IT pros.