Democratic values in AI: ANU-led research seeks answers

Finding ways to safeguard human rights and democratic values when artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled products and systems increasingly operate without human intervention is the focus of a new international academic research consortium.
13 September 2021

Finding ways to safeguard human rights and democratic values when artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled products and systems increasingly operate without human intervention is the focus of a new international academic research consortium that includes the Australian National University (ANU).

ANU has struck a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on philosophy, AI and society (PAIS) with researchers from Harvard, Oxford, Stanford, Toronto and Princeton universities to help build an international research community that shapes how AI is designed and regulated.

With government and non-state actors more frequently using AI to influence elements of people's lives, the MoU is a timely step that brings together academics from philosophy, computer science, sociology, law and political science to examine AI ethics topics.

These will include how AI systems take moral or political values into account, which values should be incorporated, who decides those values, and how they should be operationalised in AI algorithm design.

The PAIS consortium's work may have important implications for the rollout of AI-enabled products such as autonomous weapons or vehicles, or of regulating AI-enabled systems such as social media where AI is used to filter and customise individuals' experiences as part of the 'economy of attention'.

Among the research leaders is ANU Professor of Philosophy Seth Lazar who has been a long-time advocate for intrinsic efforts to formulate AI research questions as a cross-disciplinary group rather than as an 'add-on' to the work of singular disciplines.

In recognition of his novel efforts, Professor Lazar will become the first philosopher to co-chair the international Association for Computing Machinery Conference on Fairness, Accountability and Transparency in 2022.

ANU Enterprise has been integral in promoting the consortium MoU and the endeavours of Professor Lazar and his ANU colleagues.

To connect with Professor Lazar or other ANU researchers, contact innovation@anu.edu.au.

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