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Understanding AI Ethics: A Vital Skillset for Tomorrow's Decision-Makers


Considering the intersection of ethics and Artificial Intelligence (AI), it is easy to conclude that AI majors are the best candidates for ethics classes. However, my thesis is that today's business majors make up tomorrow's leadership and the decision-makers in an organization. These decision-makers will be the ones who determine internal and external policies. These policies may surround privacy, surveillance, data manipulation, transparency, and others as providers and consumers of data and AI. This article explains what AI ethics is and why it's essential.

AI Ethics

AI ethics is a branch of tech ethics that deals with the potential impact of AI on society and individuals. It asks questions like: "Is it fair for a self-driving car to make decisions that could harm some people to save others?" or "Should an AI system be allowed to decide who gets a job interview?". Some of these ships have already sailed. For example, today, an applicant is most likely making a resume for an AI gatekeeper. The AI applies algorithms to these resumes, only passing a tiny percentage to a human hiring manager for consideration.

AI ethics looks at issues like privacy. It asks, "Should your smart speaker listen to all your conversations?" Bias asks, "If the AI is trained with biased data, it could make unfair decisions?" Transparency asks, "How can we understand what the AI is doing?" Today even AI creators cannot comprehend what large AI systems are doing under the hood to reach conclusions. The goal of solving explainable AI is beyond the scope of this article.

Who uses AI?

Most humans use Artificial Intelligence already. It's the technology behind voice assistants like Siri or Alexa, the self-driving cars you see on the road, and the proverbial elephant in the server room, generative AI systems like ChatGPT. The rise of ChatGPT has raised a lot of ethical concerns. In the future, more intelligent versions of these AI systems could be used to cure the most harmful diseases or to create them.

AI Ethics for Business Majors

While tech ethics is essential to AI engineering, it is more consequential in the business space. To prepare future business leaders, today's business students should learn AI ethics. Anything with AI in front of it can seem like an intimidating topic. However, AI ethics is more straightforward. Learning AI ethics is about applying critical thinking skills rather than understanding complex algorithms. AI ethics is understanding the effects algorithms and data can have on people and society and making informed decisions about how to use them.

Ethics for AI Majors

AI majors, don't feel left out! Understanding AI Ethics is also crucial. The AI major works with data and algorithms, and their ethical responsibility is to ensure that bias is out of the AI system. Biases in this context would be race, politics, gender, stereotypes, and others. AI students need to understand the ethical implications of what they're creating. Software developers must focus on bias in data and algorithms, which is something decision-makers cannot.

Why is this so important? Imagine a ChatGPT model that's been trained on countless documents, books, and internet text. It's pretty smart, right? But here's the kicker, it's only as ethical as the data it's been fed. It doesn't have a moral compass, doesn't understand fairness, and certainly can't tell right from wrong. It's impressive, powerful software, but really all it is doing is using math. When it is not generating a response to a prompt, it is not sitting there thinking of ethics or anything.

Conscientious Creators

Software developers who create AI need to understand the potential consequences of making bad decisions during development. Making decisions during AI development with understanding these issues could help clients and protect a company's reputation. Businesses today are increasingly held accountable for their ethical stances. Consumers, employees, and investors all care about companies acting responsibly and having reasonable expectations for them to navigate a market ethically.

The creator has the power, and with great power comes...well, you know the rest. The choices in designing, training, deploying, and using these models can either contribute to a fairer, more equitable society, or they can reinforce existing biases, spread misinformation, or even cause harm.

UAT Playbook

At UAT, tech ethics is a living, breathing guidebook. We stress the importance of deploying AI responsibly, recognizing its limitations, and continuously monitoring its applications. Our students are encouraged to develop and apply critical thinking skills to shape AI that benefits our community and society. As AI systems rapidly expand, AI ethics will only grow in importance. So too, must our wisdom. Just being aware of AI risks can mitigate them.

We have seen many well-meaning, highly educated people fooled by outlandish theories and deep fakes. Education and ethics need more than critical thinking skills. UAT emphasizes critical thinking as the last piece of the puzzle for the trifecta. By teaching students how to combine education, ethics, and critical thinking, UAT is preparing them to be responsible and ethical professionals in the industry for their safety. We don't want them to end up in a situation where they do not realize the implications of their actions. For example, in the classroom, we teach how to interrogate datasets for bias, consider the implications of design choices, and apply principles of fairness and accountability. We want them to ask themselves, "If my algorithm was a person, would I want to be friends with it?" It's an unorthodox thought, isn't it?

In addition to teaching tech ethics, we also encourage our students to be active in the tech ethics community. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) is a professional organization that promotes the responsible use of technology. We encourage our students to explore the Ethics in AI Initiative, a global effort to promote ethical AI. By being active in the tech ethics community, our students are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to be responsible and ethical leaders in the tech industry.

The Future

AI use is growing. For better and for worse, decreasing human operating costs has been in business for thousands of years. Today's AI is revolutionizing various industries by streamlining tasks that would otherwise require significant white-collar labor. This cost reduction is a historical driver in business DNA that cannot be removed. People ask the question, will AI replace me? AI will not replace people. However, people trained to use AI will replace people who are not trained to use AI.


In conclusion, AI ethics is essential for all majors, especially for future business leaders. By learning about AI ethics, students can make informed decisions about how to create and use AI. UAT's commitment to promoting ethics in technology also aligns with the growing demand from industry partners seeking graduates equipped with technical expertise and an understanding of their professional obligations.