Everyday Ethics for Artificial Intelligence

a Practical Guide for Designers and Developers

By: Adam Cutler, IBM Distinguished Designer, Artificial Intelligence Design; Milena Pribić, IBM Designer, Artificial Intelligence Design; and Lawrence Humphrey, IBM Designer, Artificial Intelligence Design

Artificial intelligence already touches our lives both directly and indirectly; it works in the open and it works behind filters, apps, APIs, and other processes. AI promises immense change but this evolution is also a cause for concern. When decisions are driven by black box algorithms, the ripples of AI’s influence are often difficult to measure.

AI’s new technologies and novel effects are spurring new methods of design and development. This marks the beginning of the age of relationship design. Software design and development can no longer focus on interactions alone. For AI to truly augment our intelligence, we must evolve our relationships with machines.

Fostering and protecting a relationship with AI is a brand-new concept. This type of design requires an incredible amount of trust. Trust between developer and user, between user and machine, between society and AI in general.

To address these new challenges and welcome in this era of design, we collaborated on this field guide for designers and developers working with AI. It is meant to help teams align with each other at every step of the design process.

is a framework for AI ethics that you and your team can immediately put into practice. We partnered with Francesca Rossi, IBM’s global leader for AI ethics, to distill a variety of information and perspectives into a digestible and actionable guide for designers and developers.

We organized this guide around five main focus areas that align with IBM’s :

1. Accountability: AI designers and developers are responsible for considering AI design, development, decision processes, and outcomes.

2. Value Alignment: AI should be designed with consideration of the norms and values of your user group.

3. Explainability: AI should be designed for humans to easily perceive, detect, and understand its decision process.

4. User Data Rights: AI should be designed to protect user data and preserve the user’s power over access and uses.

5. Fairness: AI should be designed to minimize bias and promote inclusive representation.

Each focus area includes recommended actions, necessary considerations, and questions to spark conversations.

Everyday Ethics for Artificial Intelligence is an ongoing, interdisciplinary effort. We hope it builds on public contributions concerning AI Ethics in a meaningful way and we look forward to expanding on it. Embracing a framework of ethical communication and decision-making will marry good intentions with good outcomes.

Ethical decision-making is not just another form of technical problem solving. Artificial intelligence has the potential to dramatically enrich our lives, our relationships, and ourselves. We can only get there through transparency and intentionality.

Rather than strive for perfection first, we are releasing the first iteration of the Everyday Ethics guide to allow all who read and use it to comment, critique and participate in all future iterations. So please experiment, play, use, and break what you find here and send us your feedback. You can reach us at edethics@us.ibm.com.

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Design at IBM

Stories from the practice of design at IBM