Cassiopeia

Navigating AI and Ethics

Cassiopeia Founder Stefania Barbaglio had the pleasure of moderating one of the most thought provoking and topical panels: covering the intersection between blockchain technology and AI. The panel was entitled: The Ethics of AI and took place at the Paris Blockchain Week 2024, a leading annual European event.

The panel featured:

Mariana de la Roche, Validvent Director

Oscar Wendel, Senior Manager, Dubai World Trade Centre

Nadège Martin, Partner, Norton Rose Fulbright, LLP

Below is my reflection on key takeaways from this poignant discussion.

(From left to right Mariana de la Roche, Stefania Barbaglio, Nadège Martin, and Oscar Wendel)

Avoiding the possible catch-22 of AI

AI serves as our possibly our greatest ally in advancing both technology and society, yet wielded recklessly, it can become a perilous weapon capable of great harm. AI’s rapid development needs policy, resources, and technological support. However, its cultivation in many fields appears to be lacking this kind of support.

In the rapidly evolving landscape of AI (artificial intelligence), the ethical implications of its applications across various industries have become a subject of intense debate and scrutiny. From warfare to creative work, intellectual property and societal impact, the integration of AI raises pertinent questions about morality, responsibility, and the future of human-machine collaboration.

To start with the regulatory and legislative components of AI as these terms often imply ethics or at least the consideration thereof. Recently the General Assembly approved the first United Nations resolution on artificial intelligence. The resolution, sponsored by the United States and co-sponsored by 123 countries, was adopted by consensus with a bang of the gavel and without a vote, meaning it has the support of all 193 UN member nations. This draft aims to make AI safe and trustworthy. The resolution also aims to bridge the digital divide between rich developed countries and poorer developing countries and make sure they are all at the table in discussions on AI.

It also aims to make sure that developing countries have the technology and capabilities to take advantage of AI’s benefits, including detecting diseases, predicting floods, helping farmers, and training the next generation of workers.

Both the US and the EU have also agreed to collaborate on interoperable and international standards for safer AI. The EU and US want to foster a scientific information exchange between AI experts on either side of the Atlantic that covers areas such as developing benchmarks and assessing potential risks; with the emphasis on developing safe, secure, and trustworthy AI technologies.This is just the beginning and as the technology evolves, I am certain that so will the regulatory landscape and frameworks associated with it.

In the realm of warfare, the emergence of AI-powered autonomous weapons systems has sparked concerns about violations of international law and human rights. The prospect of machines making life-and-death decisions without human oversight challenges fundamental principles of accountability and proportionality in armed conflict. Recent reports highlighted the alleged use of AI in targeting individuals, such as the controversial “lavender” system, the reliance on automated algorithms raises troubling questions about accuracy, accountability, and the decrease of human agency.

Similarly, in the creative industries, the onset of AI presents both opportunities and challenges. While AI algorithms can aid in monitoring and tracking unlicensed use of creative works, they also give rise to concerns about the authenticity and integrity of artistic expression. Issues like fake songs generated by AI algorithms underscore the need for ethical guidelines and regulations to protect the rights of creators and ensure fair compensation for their work. The intersection of AI and intellectual property (IP) rights introduces complex legal and ethical considerations. As AI-generated content becomes increasingly both prevalent and relevant, questions arise about ownership, control, and the equitable distribution of profits. The tokenisation of IP rights and the incentivisation of data sharing through blockchain technology offers potential solutions to challenges faced, but they also raise concerns about privacy, consent, and the concentration of power in the hands of a few.

When addressing these ethical dilemmas, a pragmatic approach is crucial: it balances the potential benefits of AI with both its inherent risks and uncertainties. Collaborative efforts between multiple stakeholders including AI developers, policymakers, and stakeholders are vital to ensure that AI technologies are developed and deployed in a responsible and inclusive manner. This requires transparent decision-making processes, robust regulatory frameworks, and continuous dialogue to address emerging ethical issues and safeguard against potential harms such as bias and discrimination, social manipulation and misinformation to name a few.

In the development sector and transition justice, AI has the ability to play a transformative role in advancing accountability, transparency, and reconciliation. Through harnessing AI technologies to analyse numerous amounts of data and identify patterns of human rights violations, transitional justice mechanisms can enhance truth-seeking processes, facilitate reparations for victims, and promote reconciliation in post-conflict societies. However, ethical considerations must guide the use of AI in these contexts to prevent further marginalisation and exploitation of vulnerable populations.

The intersection of AI and blockchain further creates complications in the ethical landscape, as these technologies intertwine and cannot be analysed in isolation. While blockchain offers opportunities to empower individuals by giving them control over their data, it also poses challenges in terms of data privacy and provenance, security, and governance. By leveraging the transparency and immutability of blockchain, AI decision-making processes can be made more accountable and trustworthy, and careful attention must be paid to both the socio-economic and political implications of these technologies — which is already under consideration which is evident from the discussions that have taken place and continue to take place i.e. The EU and US agree to chart a common course on AI .

In the art and film industries, AI regulation and ethics are paramount to preserve the integrity and authenticity of creative expression. Recent publications on AI, including frameworks for risk specification and regulation, provide valuable insights into best practices for ethical AI development and deployment. However, the real issue lies not only in tracking unlicensed use of work but also in addressing the broader economic disparities in the creative economy, where the majority of profits are derived from distribution rather than creation.

In the fashion industry AI could change the way that people can enter as it could literally level the playing field in an area that has historically had various barriers to entry. The same could be said about the film industry, with AI tools independent filmmakers have the opportunity to go head to head with bigger studios on a fraction of the cost and yield substantial results. Would be nice here to expand a bit more on the film and fashion industry as are two core examples discussed by Nadege and Oscar. There is also the challenge about how to build rewards systems using NFTs and how these systems add value to the business and the users that they will serve.

AI’s impact on creativity and communication raises fundamental questions about the nature of human ingenuity and the role of technology in shaping cultural narratives. While AI tools like ChatGPT can be helpful for generating ideas, true creativity requires original thinking and human connection. The democratisation of creative industries through AI poses challenges to traditional business models but also offers opportunities for innovation and collaboration. Oscar Wendel predicts AI will democratise creative industries, disrupting traditional business models, however one also needs to look at the human aspects of these industries that may be affected/impacted. This includes a look at the workforce; and understanding how AI can complement traditional or more manual elements of the workforce fostering positive collaborations between humans and technology, AI should be used as a tool to protect the future of labour and decrease the rate of employment particularly in developing countries.

The ethical implications of AI are multifaceted and far-reaching, encompassing issues of accountability, transparency, and social justice across various industries. As AI technologies continue to advance, it is imperative that ethical considerations remain at the forefront of development efforts, guided by principles of fairness, inclusivity, and respect for human dignity. Only through collaborative engagement and proactive regulation can we harness the potential of AI to create positive social impact while mitigating against its potential risks and pitfalls.

You can watch the panel discussion here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UwITXMN_w_E

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