AI is coming to our phones and our homes, and with it, a new set of tricky questions appears on the horizon. DeepMind, the UK-based AI company that was bought by Google back in 2014, has declared their intention to tackle these issues with the formation of a new research team dedicated to the ethics and morality of AI use.
Dubbed DeepMind Ethics & Society, or DMES, the group will research areas of concern such as the potential biases of AI, the impact of increasing automation on the labor market as well as legal and healthcare systems and the need to ensure that AIs are developed in a way that benefits society. There is no Skynet-style science fiction doomsday on the horizon, it’s more about keeping the human impact in perspective as we rush to adopt exciting new technologies.
Right now DMES is a small team of eight full-time staffers, but the team also draws upon the expertise of six unpaid fellows drawn from academia and industry think-tanks. Among them is Oxford philosopher Nick Bostrom, who literally wrote the book on the risks of AI. DeepMind is hoping to more than triple their DMES staff within the year.
Of course DeepMind isn’t alone in wading into the moral quagmire of AI. The six giants of tech—Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, IBM and Apple—are already collaborating in the Partnership on AI. DMES will also be partnering with established groups such as The AI Now Institute at NYU, and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence.
DMES outlined their mission statement in a blog post by co-leads Verity Harding and Sean Legassick: “If AI technologies are to serve society, they must be shaped by society’s priorities and concerns.”