Kick-Off for the project "Desirable Digitalization". Sponsored by Stiftung Mercator
Artificial intelligence is on everyone’s lips. But what does AI do to us and our society? How does it change our view of humanity? How can AI applications be steered in an ethically desirable direction? In the project "Desirable Digitalization" of the Center for Science and Thought at the University of Bonn and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge, which is funded by Stiftung Mercator, researchers take a look at the challenges of AI for society as a whole. Participants discussed these topics at the kickoff in Bonn.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is profoundly changing society: algorithms are influencing access to professions and insurance, the justice system and medical treatments, as well as our everyday relationships among friends and family. Led by Markus Gabriel, director of the Center for Science and Thought at the University of Bonn, and Dr. Stephen Cave, director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence in Cambridge, the project "Desirable Digitalization" focuses on ethical principles.
"AI research and AI systems are parts of human society. We are not dealing with inert technologies. AI systems and the way they are sold change our human behaviour. This is the consideration for the anthropological perspective of our sub-project," says Markus Gabriel about the connection between AI and human nature.
Dr. Stephen Cave: "Desirable digitalisation means being really conscious of the value choices we make at every stage of developing and deploying these technologies, to ensure they support the foundational values on which our flourishing society is based."
Aimee van Wynsberghe, Humboldt Professor at the University of Bonn, Germany, brings her expertise on sustainability. On the connection between AI and climate change, she says: "It is Important for us to remember that AI is a physical thing. Even though we think of the cloud and algorithms of not being a part of this earth, there is a physical infrastructure behind these things. So if we train models we use earthly resources."
Addressing the first steps toward desirable digitization, Dr. Kanta Dihal of the University of Cambridge’s Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence said: "We must keep in mind that many different groups of people want different things from technology, and we must find out what people want from technology before we go and put this technology out there in the world."
The project, "Desirable Digitization: Rethinking AI for a Just and Sustainable Future," is a joint research program between the Universities of Cambridge and Bonn, funded by Stiftung Mercator to the tune of ¤3.8 million over the next five years. Researchers are investigating how artificial intelligence and other digital technologies can be designed responsibly. Questions of social justice and ecological sustainability are at the center of this.