Posts in Ethics
Who do you trust most: a robot, an alarm clock or your partner?

I’ll kick off this post with a definition of trust, but focus on an analysis of trust in everyday and not-so-everyday situations: about 12,000 conversations among friends, family members and strangers. About 10% of all these conversations make some mention of trust. Then I’ll turn to more extreme situations exemplified by characters in 135 different TV shows, episodes are longer than conversations but on average 53% of TV episodes make at least one mention of trust.

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Ethical AI: Products that Love People

Algorithms neither love nor suffer (despite all the hype about super-intelligent sentient robots). The products that algorithms power neither love nor suffer. But people build products and people use products. And a product that loves is one that, as Tyler Schnoebelen laid out in his recent Wrangle Talk, anticipates and respects the goals of the people it impacts. For us, this means building models with evaluation metrics beyond just precision, recall, or accuracy. It means setting objective functions that maximize not only profits, but the mutual benefit between company and consumer. It means helping businesses appreciate the miraculous nuances of people so they can provide contextual experiences and offer relevant products that may just make a consumer experience enjoyable.

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The Ethics of Everybody Else: New video posted

I had heard about Wrangle for a while — a data science conference where folks come to talk about the hardest problems they’ve faced and how they’ve found their ways around them. It also has a rancher-rustler theme, though you can’t see the cowboy boots I wore in the newly-posted video of my talk.

Here’s how I kicked off my 20-minute talk, called “The Ethics of Everybody Else”:

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Tournament of values!

Every few years, I go through an exercise where I collect a giant list of values, virtues, and intentions and rank them. The whole endeavor is a pseudo-quantitative approach to something deeply qualitative, but it articulates what I’m finding meaningful and helps me choose how I spend time, energy, and money. In the past, it’s been especially useful for helping me come up with responses to tricky situations where I don’t immediately know what to do.

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The carrots and sticks of ethical NLP

Professions run into ethical problems all the time. Consider engineering: the US sold $9.9b worth of arms in 2016 ($3.9b in missiles). The most optimistic reading is that instruments of death prevent death. Consider medicine: Medical research is dominated by concerns of market size and patentability, leaving basic questions like “is this fever from bacteria or virus” unanswered for people treating illnesses in low-income countries. Consider lawLawyers upholding the law can break any normal definition of justice. Even in philosophyethicists are not known to be more moral than anyone else.

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