The road to ethical artificial intelligence (AI) is a long one. High level principles must be brought down and translated into actionable steps in order to guide software developers through crucial decision-making. What seems just code and symbols in the land of bits, has very real consequences in the world of atoms.
The battle of redirecting AI towards an ethical future is a challenge that Postdoctoral Researcher, Ville Vakkuri, knows all too well. For the past five years Vakkuri has been researching the ethical implications of artificial intelligence and its development, and has been intensively engaged in developing tools to intercept the dystopian future that problems such as algorithmic biases, breach of privacy and security, as well as black box algorithms may likely bring about. One of Vakkuri’s most substantial achievements has been the development of the ECCOLA tool and method for ethical software development. The tool has now been advanced through seven iterations and has been validated in numerous studies and projects within academia and industry alike.
At the same time, Vakkuri has recognized the importance of planting ethical thinking early. He has prioritized ethical education and use case-driven learning among his diverse groups of Information Technology (IT) and related students. It is these future professionals who through action now, have a chance of instinctively reverting to ethical and humane IT development and business in their practices if awareness for these challenges is created as ‘norm’ already at this stage of their careers. More advanced professionals are not excluded, however. In fact, there has been much to gain in terms of insight and even business value through recognizing the core ingredients of developing AI for human integrity.
This passion to educate and generate wide-scale positive impact for the future of AI development has earned Vakkuri the prestigious Jorma Ollila Grant for 24,000€, awarded at the Nokia Foundation Gala (November 23). The grant will cover the costs of a one-year research and teaching residency at the Human-Centered Computing Department, University of Copenhagen, Denmark, hosted by Professor Irina Shklovski. His project “Simple Tools for Complex Issues, Approaching AI Ethics Issues through Education” will be the vehicle through which Vakkuri will reach international student pools with his unique and pragmatic approach to the ethical conditioning of those who will shape our world in years to come. Vakkuri’s visit also connects with the current Academy of Finland project (lead by Rebekah Rousi), BUGGED – the Emotional Experience of Privacy, Ethics and Cyber Security in Pervasive Everyday Systems. VME Interaction Design Environment is thriving on these synergies. Our team is extremely excited to be abreast of positive humane impact in the development of emerging technologies and interactions.