AI Ethics Resources

My newest Ask-A-Data-Scientist post was inspired by a computer science student who wrote in asking for advice on how to pursue a career in policy making related to the societal impacts of AI. I realized that there are many great resources out there, and I wanted to compile a list of links all in one place.

You can find my previous Ask-A-Data-Scientist advice columns here.

Everyone in tech should be concerned about the ethical implications of our work and actively engaging with such questions. The humanities and social sciences are incredibly relevant and important in addressing ethics questions. While tech ethics is not a new field (it has traditionally been studied within science, tech, & society (STS), or information science departments), many in the tech industry are now waking up to these questions, and there is a much wider interest in the topic than before.

Working on AI ethics takes many forms, including: founding tech companies and building products in ethical ways; advocating and working for more just laws and policies; attempting to hold bad actors accountable; and research, writing, and teaching in the field. I have included many links to further resources in the rest of this post, as well as a few concrete suggestions. Don’t be overwhelmed by the length of these lists! This post is intended to be a resource that you can refer back to as needed:

For an overview of some AI ethics issues, I encourage you to check out my recent PyBay keynote on the topic. Through a series of case studies, both negative and positive, I counter 4 misconceptions about tech that often lead to human harm, as well as offer some healthier principles:

Build up your technical skills

For anyone interested in the societal impact of AI, I recommend building up your technical knowledge of machine learning. Even if you do not plan on working as a programmer or deep learning practitioner, it is helpful to have a hands-on understanding of how this technology works and how it can be used. I encourage everyone interested in AI ethics and policy to learn Python and to take the Practical Deep Learning for Coders course (the only pre-requisite is one year of coding experience).

Start a reading group

Casey Fiesler, a professor in Information Science at CU Boulder, created a crowd-sourced spreadsheet of over 200 tech ethics courses and links to the syllabi for many of them. Even if your university does not offer a tech ethics course, I encourage you to start a club, reading group, or a student-led course on tech ethics, and these syllabi can be a helpful resource in creating your own.

For those who are not college students, consider starting a tech ethics reading group at your workplace (that could perhaps meet for lunch once a week and discuss a different reading each week) or a tech ethics meetup in your city.

10 AI Ethics Experts to Follow

Here are ten researchers whose work on AI ethics I admire and whom I recommend following. All of them have a number of great articles/talks/etc, although I’ve just linked to one each to get you started:

Institutes and Fellowships

The below institutes all offer a range of ways to get involved, including listening to their podcasts and videos (wherever you may be located in the world), attending in-person events, or applying for internships and fellowships to help fund your work in this area:

Create your own

If what you want doesn’t yet exist in the world, you may need to create your own group, organization, non-profit, or startup. Timnit Gebru, a computer vision researcher, is an excellent role model for this. Dr. Gebru describes her experience as a Black woman attending NIPS (a major AI conference) in 2016, I went to NIPS and someone was saying there were an estimated 8,500 people. I counted six black people. I was literally panicking. That’s the only way I can describe how I felt. I saw that this field was growing exponentially, hitting the mainstream; it’s affecting every part of society. Dr. Gebru went on to found Black in AI, a large and active network of Black AI researchers, which has led to new research collaborations, conference and speaking invitations for members, and was even a factor in Google AI deciding to open a research center in Accra, Ghana.

Related fast.ai links

At fast.ai, we frequently write and speak about ethics, as well as including the topic in our deep learning course. Here are a few posts you may be interested in:

Here are some talks we’ve given on this topic:

The ethical impact of technology is a huge and relevant area, and there is a lot of work to be done.