At the AI Ethics Lab, we developed our Ethics in R&D (ERD) model to integrate ethics into AI research and development.
Our model consists of 3 components, which together provide a comprehensive approach to ethics. Yet, each one of these components can also be implemented in isolation. These are,
(1) Understanding Ethics: researchers’ and developers’ awareness and understanding of ethics
(2) Ethics Analysis: embedding ethical analysis into the design and development process
(3) Institutional Ethics Policy: developing institutional policies for recurrent crucial ethical questions
We argue that the ERD model provides a meaningful way of integrating ethics into innovation, where ethics complements and enhances R&D process. In our model, ethicists are not sitting in an isolated board – they are trusted collaborators of researchers and developers, working together to improve technologies.
ERD model can be implemented fully (with all 3 components) or partially within companies, start-ups, research centers, and incubators.
Our first component—understanding ethics—helps developers and researchers to identify and catch the ethical problems as they work through their projects.
Of course, we want to go beyond pointing to the problems—we want to solve them or at least make the best possible decision going forward. Ethical issues arise in each stage of innovation: research, design, development, manufacturing, and even updating. Our aim is to catch these ethical problems early on as they arise and mitigate them before we proceed to the next stage. Doing so not only helps finetune the technology for the better but also would avoid wasted resources and public scandals.
How do we do that?
- Our ethicists join your project team and provide ethics analysis and consulting before product release.
- We also provide mentorship, during which period our ethicists are available for any questions.
This collaboration has several benefits. Even though in our first stage (understanding ethics) we help researchers and developers be skilled at recognizing and approaching ethics problems, they cannot be fully responsible in mitigating them. We bring in our ethics expertise to do just that.
It is important to emphasize that the ERD approach aims to do more than just avoiding unethical outcomes. Our aim is to enhance technology and make it more beneficial.
To request an assessment of your company / institution and discuss implementing ERD, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.