• Otávio Santiago

An ‘ethical’ AI trained on human morals has turned racist


Are you currently facing a moral dilemma but have no one to turn to? It’s your lucky day! Thanks to science, you can now get life advice from artificial intelligence – and no, I’m not talking about a Magic 8 Ball (ha ha ha). A group of researchers have taught a piece of machine learning software how to respond to ethical conundrums – for example, ‘Casually masturbating with friends?’ It’s wrong, according to AI.


Launched last month by the Allen Institute for AI, Ask Delphi allows users to input any ethical question (or even just a word, e.g. ‘Murder’) and it will generate a response (e.g. ‘It’s bad’). As reported by Vox, Delphi was trained on a body of internet text, and then on a database of responses from the crowdsourcing platform Mechanical Turk, which is a compilation of 1.7 million examples of people’s ethical judgements. Though, as VICE points out, it should be noted that its sources include the likes of Reddit’s ‘Am I the Asshole?’ subreddit.


Explaining Delphi’s goal, its creators wrote online: “Extreme-scale neural networks learned from raw internet data are ever more powerful than we anticipated, yet fail to learn human values, norms, and ethics. Our research aims to address the impending need to teach AI systems to be ethically-informed and socially-aware.”

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