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Introduction on Ethical and Legal Challenges in the Era of AI

Updated: Nov 9, 2021

by Celeste Yang

Corporate Attorney

Corporate & External Legal Affairs, Microsoft Taiwan

Held in Da Yong Building Room 417, November 12, 2020

In yesterday’s Media and Entertainment Law in Digital Age class taught by Professor. Jesse Lu, it was of great honor to have Ms. Celeste Yang, the Corporate Attorney of Microsoft Taiwan’s Corporate & External Legal Affairs Department over in NCCU. Following the previous visitation of the students to Microsoft Taiwan in late October, where Ms Celeste have previously shared with us on Microsoft’s Digital Transformation and AI Development. This time around, she has brought us a topic which deems to be close to her, as she touched on the topic of her very own field, “An Introduction on Ethical and Legal Challenges in the Era of AI”.

Given that the overall session was split into two, in the very first session itself, Ms. Celeste has brought up several key issues, covering from how AI has been defined, what AI actually does, and how AI has been taken into adaptation among the people has been brought into a discussion with the attendees.

Ms. Celeste has shared that although AI may be a software where it is trained to recognize patterns or make simple predictions, AI remains as an algorithm, where it states either a 70% - 90% that a person has a likelihood to perform as per what AI has assumed. However, it is still crucial for us to take it with a pinch of salt, where what AI shows does not necessarily represents the end results. Hence, we, “human” would still have to take the step to make the final decision.

As AI has been categorized to both the Weak and Strong AI, people more often see weaker functionalities in the Weak AI where it probably only enhances what we have now and is not capable of thinking on its own and gaining a new knowledge on its own. However, Ms. Celeste has stated that the Weak AI is definitely blooming, where Microsoft hopes that it could reach human parity as soon as possible.

Furthermore, Ms. Celeste have mentioned, that though having both vasts amounts of data and huge computational power does make advances to real AI, however, people should more than often understand that AI isn’t a super robot that thinks like a human but instead its a software that has a deep understanding of the world based on the years of experience. Moreover, the gap of identifying good and evil would still be something in development, as the AI is now still incapable of interpreting the full context of a matter, as compared to the human minds.

As Microsoft screams for its mission to “Make AI available to everyone”, several AI practical promises has been brought into place in order to help us in our daily lives, education, transportation, healthcare and agriculture. Ms. Celeste have shared the recent project of Microsoft alongside with the African Government on saving the Zebras, they eagerly hope that AI will bring an impact to the economy, as AI has helped to improve GDP Growth gradually.

“Ultimately the question is not what computers can do. But what computers should do”.

Smith, B. (2018) The Future Computed

As Ms. Celeste has share that Microsoft’s aims to democratize AI, they wish that AI empowers each and every person and every institution to solve the most pressing problems of our society. Thought Microsoft may not have the data but they to have the AI module as they envision themselves to design AI that could amplify human ingenuity. Many may perhaps be afraid of what is like in the future, but Ms. Celeste has also pointed out that, it is important for us to take AI as a tool to help us but not to replace us and it wasn’t designed to help us take on decisions.

Despite the fact that it could be inevitable where jobs will be replaced, Microsoft hopes to ensure that AI empowers us all, where it would be unstoppable with the amplification of human ingenuity.

“AI (Artificial intelligence) + HI (Human Ingenuity) = SI (Super Intelligences)”

As we closely move into the topic of ethics in AI, Ms. Celeste mentioned that in every powerful new technology in history has brought certain risks with it. As she showed us the AI Governance Development Timeline, we need not only knew that Microsoft was one of the first few companies that talked about AI Governance, but it also talks about how we could have Responsible AI. Albeit AI being still in development, Microsoft has called for legal regulations on wanting to identify the impact of AI.

With the aim of giving people trust in new technologies, Ms. Celeste mentioned that Microsoft have taken steps to ensure that there is a trusted approach to AI, where universal principles, ethical design, open collaboration, partnerships, building on trust and governance has been strongly taken in place for not customers who are worried about the infringement issues. With that having said, preach for fairness, accuracy, reliability, security, inclusivity, transparency and accountability in the future development of AI has all came together to be the Six Principles for Ethical AI in Microsoft.

As the session comes to an end, Ms. Celeste has shared with us several case samples as a reference for us to better understand the importance of us understanding Ethics in AI, where she covered the cyberattack incident, “Wannacry” as well as, a brief note on the importance of GDPR compliance.

The talk was then followed by Q&A Session, further clarifications of work collaboration with philosophers on ethics was raised by Ella Csarno, IMICS Year 2 Student. It was then shared by Ms. Celeste that, Microsoft do work with various philosophers from all round the world as the focus on what’s right and wrong may differ in different countries. However, it is most important for them to protect human value.

Furthermore, questions on whether if AI could exclude bias having that humans are inherently faulty were raised by Kati Reino, exchange student from Denmark. Ms. Celeste then emphasized that as AI plays the role of providing recommendation but not making decisions, and hence, there would definitely be space for us to monitor and take note of.

As the Q&A Session goes on, several key points were raised by Ms. Celeste, as she mentioned that Microsoft has been working closely with the Department of Technology, Taiwan to bring in local talents to the company to ensure that the outflow of talents would be reduced by providing comprehensive training on AI Technology, which includes bringing experts from the US to conduct the training.

Having the session to end on a high note, it was completed with a group photo with fellow students and professors, as well as Ms. Celeste.

We believe that we have got to learn and better understand AI in a different perspective and it was of great pleasure to have Ms. Celeste over in NCCU, as she have shared many valuable insights from the industry itself.

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