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Could an ethics team stop AI from destroying the human race?

DeepMind is bringing in a team of researchers meant to ensure artificial intelligence is created and programmed ethically

Google’s AI research strand DeepMind has kickstarted a research team that will focus on the ethical practice surrounding artificial intelligence.

It’s the same company that created the first AI program to beat a champion at the board game Go, and they’re developing plans to make future AI that’s safe and not at all likely to dominate the human race in a few decades time. A statement from the company says it will endeavour “to help technologists put ethics into practice, and to help society anticipate and direct the impact of AI so that it works for the benefit of all”.

Those aims, in more detail, will see researchers hold AI programming to account on grounds of inclusivity and transparency, and educate people on what life with AI is like. The team hope to assist in creating AI that’s unbiased and beneficial for society. This will of course come majorly into play in the next few years, as AI production speeds on. Already, there’s AI that’s differentiating people with race and sexual orientation negatively, as Gizmodo reports.

“Technology is not value neutral, and technologists must take responsibility for the ethical and social impact of their work,” a statement from DeepMind reads. “As history attests, technological innovation in itself is no guarantee of broader social progress. The development of AI creates important and complex questions. Its impact on society – and on all our lives – is not something that should be left to chance.

“Beneficial outcomes and protections against harms must be actively fought for and built-in from the beginning. But in a field as complex as AI, this is easier said than done.”

The ethics team is made up of people in academia and charitable organisations.

Google promised back in 2014 to establish an AI Ethics Board, as the Guardian reports, but no major output from that team has been heard of. There’s also the Health’s Independent Review Panel, which focuses on its healthcare.

As technology starts to gallop, there’s a growing concern for ethical and safe practice – it’s something that tech giant Elon Musk has asserted, in the fear that AI will be utilised for violent means, but he already thinks we're way too late.