THE ETHICAL SIDE OF EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES

Wendell Wallach is a consultant, ethicist, and scholar at Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Bioethics. He has an international reputation as an expert on the ethical and governance concerns posed by emerging technologies, particularly artificial intelligence and neuroscience. Following his presentation at the IFA+ Summit, he spoke to IFA International about his work.

THERE ARE HUNDREDS, IF NOT THOUSANDS, OF PEOPLE JUMPING INTO THE ARENA

I am best known for work on ethical issues and societal impact issues. I have co-authored one book called Moral machines: Teaching robots right from wrong, which was the first book to really look comprehensively at whether we could implement moral decision-making faculties in computers and robots; and my more recent book was called A dangerous master: How to keep technology from slipping beyond our control. I focus particularly on risks and undesirable consequences and how we can ameliorate those through ethics, engineering and oversight.

What are your main concerns around emerging autonomous and self – driving technologies?

There are hundreds of concerns I have posed, but at the IFA+ Summit I laid out the broad problems. What are the broader issues in moving down the road to increasing autonomy, particularly around responsibility, culpability and liability?

What was your key message to delegates at the IFA+ Summit around AI?

The joy is that there are hundreds, if not thousands, of people jumping into the arena. However, there are times that people’s ideas are relatively naïve, so I am taking the opportunity to help shape their education and understanding, and how we start to think about some of the policy agendas. Instead of silo thinking, people should be thinking systemically about how all these factors affect each other.


Photo: Wendell Wallach – Consultant, ethicist, and scholar Yale University’s Interdisciplinary Centre for Bioethics