New Research Center to Explore Ethics of Artificial Intelligence

by John Markoff,   The New York Times

Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) on Wednesday will announce the launch of a new research center for investigating the ethics of artificial intelligence (AI).

Subra Suresh, Carnegie Mellon’s president, said injecting ethical discussions into A.I. was necessary as the technology advanced. While the idea of “Terminator” robots still seems far-fetched, the United States military is studying autonomous weapons that could make killing decisions on their own — a development that war planners think would be unwise.

“We are at a unique point in time where the technology is far ahead of society’s ability to restrain it,” Mr. Suresh noted.

Suresh also cites excessive optimism over certain people’s claims about AI’s sophistication, especially as it pertains to autonomous vehicles. The K&L Gates Endowment for Ethics and Computational Technologies will draw staff from multiple academic disciplines and initially add two faculty and three positions for graduate students. It also will set up a biennial conference on ethical issues facing the AI field.

The K&L Gates law firm is the primary underwriter of the center with a $10-million endowment. K&L Gates chairman Peter J. Kalis says the potential economic and cultural impact of AI makes it vital that society makes ethical choices about its use. “Carnegie Mellon resides at the intersection of many disciplines,” Kalis says. “It will take a synthesis of the best thinking of all of these disciplines for society to define the ethical constraints on the emerging AI technologies.” Read the report.

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