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Algor-ethics: Building Ethical Algorithms

By Dick Weisinger

Trust, ethics, governance. Technology needs to build these qualities into algorithms and their software implementations. A failure to do so is not only a reputational risk to technology companies but also a blow to fairness and decency in society.

But what needs to change in order to create ethical algorithms?

Aaron Roth, professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that for algorithms to address privacy and fairness issues that “you have to design them from the beginning with these concerns in mind. These are not just policy questions, but technical questions. It’s important to get people who understand the science and the technology involved from an early stage.”

The topic of ethical AI and algorithms has gotten a lot of attention and technology companies have begun to work to address concerns.

For example, IBM and Microsoft, among other tech companies, recently signed off on the principles of a document called “Rome Call for AI Ethics” which include:

  • Transparency – algorithms need explainability
  • Inclusion – algorithms need to consider all human beings
  • Responsibility – algorithm designers must commit to ethics and transparency
  • Impartiality – algorithm designers must act to avoid biases
  • Reliability – AI system must work reliably
  • Security and Privacy – security and privacy must be respected.
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