The Case for an Ethical AI Movement Across the Tech Industry

The past two decades have seen a remarkable and dramatic rise in the role of technology in our lives, society, and democracy.

The Case for an Ethical AI Movement Across the Tech Industry

September 12, 2019



The past two decades have seen a remarkable and dramatic rise in the role of technology in our lives, society, and democracy. While many of these technologies have led to wonderful and inspiring advances, other aspects of these technologies have led to troubling, dangerous and deadly consequences. This has come in the form of spectacular privacy violations, misinformation campaigns designed to disrupt global democratic elections and sow civil unrest, the radicalization and recruitment of extremists who then go on to carry out horrific acts of violence, the distribution of child sexual abuse material, and the sale of deadly and illegal drugs and weapons.

The time has come for the technology sector as a whole to take more responsibility for how their technologies are negatively impacting our lives, society, and democracy.

For this reason, I am excited to join the advisory boards of the AI Foundation and to work with the AI Foundation in their efforts to curb the risks of technology and in particular, recent advances in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data. Among a broad range of issues that we seek to tackle, I’m particularly excited to address the growing problem of AI-synthesized content (deepfakes) and its role in everything from misinformation campaigns to fraud, and non-consensual pornography.

Advances in AI have led to the democratization of access to technology to create sophisticated and compelling fake images, videos, and audio recordings. This includes creating images of people who don’t exist, creating videos of people saying and doing things that they never did or would, and creating audio recordings in anyone’s voice saying just about anything. While there are many exciting and entertaining opportunities created by these technologies, there are also nefarious applications. Of particular concern to us is how fake content of candidates and world leaders can be used to disrupt democratic elections.

The AI Foundation’s Nonprofit is pioneering efforts to combat the negative impacts of the misuse of these technologies. Perhaps more importantly, their commercial business is also charting a philosophy of “capitalism in service of humanity,” that I encourage others in the technology sector to adopt.

From working on powerful new technologies to helping chart a more socially responsible model of technology, I’m excited to be working with the AI Foundation on these increasingly more important issues, and hope to inspire the greater technology community to join the mission.

About Me: Hany Farid is a Professor at the University of California, Berkeley with a joint appointment in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science and the School of Information. His research focuses on digital forensics, image analysis, and human perception. He received his undergraduate degree in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics from the University of Rochester in 1989, his M.S. in Computer Science from SUNY Albany, and his Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1997. Following a two-year post-doctoral fellowship in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT, he joined the faculty at Dartmouth College in 1999 where he remained until 2019. He is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Fellowship, a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and is a Fellow of the National Academy of Inventors.

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