Exploring or Exploiting? Social and Ethical Implications of Autonomous Experimentation in AI

Workshop on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning, 2016

4 Pages Posted: 4 Oct 2016 Last revised: 13 Oct 2016

Sarah Bird

Microsoft Corporation

Solon Barocas

Microsoft Research

Kate Crawford

Microsoft Research; MIT Center for Civic Media; NYU Information Law Institute

Fernando Diaz

Microsoft Research

Hanna Wallach

Microsoft Research New York City

Date Written: October 2, 2016

Abstract

In the field of computer science, large-scale experimentation on users is not new. However, driven by advances in artificial intelligence, novel autonomous systems for experimentation are emerging that raise complex, unanswered questions for the field. Some of these questions are computational, while others relate to the social and ethical implications of these systems. We see these normative questions as urgent because they pertain to critical infrastructure upon which large populations depend, such as transportation and healthcare. Although experimentation on widely used online platforms like Facebook has stoked controversy in recent years, the unique risks posed by autonomous experimentation have not received sufficient attention, even though such techniques are being trialled on a massive scale. In this paper, we identify several questions about the social and ethical implications of autonomous experimentation systems. These questions concern the design of such systems, their effects on users, and their resistance to some common mitigations.

Keywords: Autonomous Experimentation, Artificial Intelligence, Privacy, Ethics

Suggested Citation

Bird, Sarah and Barocas, Solon and Crawford, Kate and Diaz, Fernando and Wallach, Hanna, Exploring or Exploiting? Social and Ethical Implications of Autonomous Experimentation in AI (October 2, 2016). Workshop on Fairness, Accountability, and Transparency in Machine Learning, 2016. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2846909

Sarah Bird

Microsoft Corporation ( email )

One Microsoft Way
Redmond, WA 98052
United States

Solon Barocas (Contact Author)

Microsoft Research

641 Avenue of Americas
New York, NY 10011
United States

Kate Crawford

Microsoft Research ( email )

641 Avenue of the Americas
641 Avenue of the Americas, level 7
New York, NY NY 10011
United States

MIT Center for Civic Media ( email )

75 Amherst St
Cambridge, MA 02139
United States

NYU Information Law Institute ( email )

Wilf Hall
139 MacDougal Street
New York, NY NY 10012
United States

Fernando Diaz

Microsoft Research ( email )

641 Avenue of Americas
New York, NY 10011
United States

Hanna Wallach

Microsoft Research New York City ( email )

641 Avenue of Americas
New York, NY 10011
United States

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