Alien Anthropology

On AI Ethics-Washing

Context: In 2020, let’s stop AI ethics-washing and actually do something

The most mystifying aspect of this ethical issue is that, on a quick survey of available literature, the emphasis is clearly on “fixing the technology” but leaves as conspicuously absent any concerted attempt to “fix our societies” even though these are in fact the fractured source-encodings and function libraries for the dissonant inequities which percolate through – and decompress out of – this technology; holding, as it were, the broken mirror of our own profoundly human failures back up for introspection. It is yet another situation in which we might mistake the tragic instance of a fatal error or the bloviated profanity of some bumbling clown for the cause and fail to acknowledge the deeper structural, intellectual and logical flaws which underlie both it (or them) and the entire system that nourishes and cultivates the possibility, probability and plausible inevitability of it occurring. These are distributed, holistic problems and no amount of algorithmic craft or policy-pruning is going to change the fact that something deep, indeed, “is rotten in the state of Denmark” and the ethical aberration of our material artefacts is a mere symptom and empty symbol of the ethical impropriety of our cultures and of our shared selves.

The fault is not in our stars, or our technologies, but in ourselves.

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