Can AI Become More Ethical Than Humans?

July 8, 2024

At Digital Bricks, we are committed to exploring the transformative potential of artificial intelligence in shaping a more ethical future. Recent research from Eindhoven University of Technology delves into a profound question: Can AI become more ethical than humans?

Michael Cannon investigated whether artificial intelligence can surpass human ethics. His findings highlight the pivotal role of paradigms in assessing AI ethics

In his PhD. research, Michael Cannon raises the question of whether artificial intelligence can become more ethical than humans. This inquiry stems from literature on artificial superintelligence, which explores the possibilities and plausibility of AI surpassing human capabilities. The answer to this question, according to Cannon’s research, depends on fundamental assumptions about the nature of human and machine cognition.

Two models

Cannon identifies two models in thinking about the mind: “cognitivism” and “post-cognitivism.” Cognitivism is the dominant model, upon which existing AI research heavily relies. In this model, the mind is viewed as a kind of machine, akin to a computer. Cognition and intelligence are seen as problem-solving abilities.

On the other hand, post-cognitivism regards the mind as a living system—an organism subject to biological and ecological demands. It emphasizes the environment in which we learn as essential. In this model, cognition is the process by which an organism understands itself and the world around it for survival.

It depends on the model

The central question is whether AI can be more ethical than humans. Cannon’s research demonstrates that this depends on the chosen model. If we adopt a cognitivist perspective, it is possible for AI to be more ethical than humans, albeit with some caveats. However, if we follow post-cognitivism, this is not feasible.

The broader significance of this conclusion lies in recognizing that existing AI research is exclusively based on cognitivist assumptions about the mind and cognition. This may mean that AI research could miss crucial aspects when modeling natural cognition

Michael Cannon defended his PhD thesis ‘Can AI become more ethical than humans? A cross-paradigmatic evaluation of the question' on Tuesday 25 June 2024.

The Challenge of Human Bias

Humans are inherently prone to biases, which can lead to unethical decisions. This is evident in various sectors, from hiring practices to judicial rulings. Our judgments are influenced by personal experiences, societal norms, and unconscious prejudices. As such, achieving consistently ethical behavior is a formidable challenge.

AI systems, unlike humans, can be programmed to adhere to strict ethical guidelines. They have the potential to process vast amounts of data without personal bias, ensuring fairness and transparency. For instance, AI algorithms in recruitment can evaluate candidates solely on their qualifications, eliminating factors such as gender, ethnicity, or age.

Ethical AI in Practice

Eindhoven's research highlights how AI can be designed to prioritize ethical considerations. For example, AI in healthcare can ensure equitable access to treatments by assessing patients purely on medical need. Similarly, AI in finance can offer unbiased credit assessments, promoting financial inclusion.

Data: The Double-Edged Sword

However, the effectiveness of AI in ethical decision-making hinges on the quality of data it is trained on. Biased or incomplete data can lead to unethical outcomes. Therefore, it's crucial to implement rigorous data governance practices, ensuring that AI systems are fed accurate, representative, and unbiased data.

Human Oversight: A Necessity

Despite AI's potential, human oversight remains essential. AI should complement human judgment, not replace it. This symbiotic relationship can harness the strengths of both AI and human intuition, ensuring decisions are both data-driven and contextually sound.

The Path Forward

To realize the potential of ethical AI, collaboration between technologists, ethicists, and policymakers is vital. Establishing clear ethical frameworks and regulatory standards will guide AI development and deployment. At Digital Bricks, we advocate for continuous dialogue and cooperation to ensure AI technologies serve the greater good.

The journey towards ethical AI is a shared responsibility. By prioritizing transparency, fairness, and accountability, we can develop AI systems that not only enhance productivity but also uphold the highest ethical standards. Digital Bricks is dedicated to leading this charge, fostering an AI-driven future that reflects our collective values.