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Teaching AI Ethics to High School Students - Curriculum, Resources, Tips



As AI expands and enters all aspects of our industries, services and public policy, it becomes ever more important for students to appreciate the ethical challenges posed by the technology. This blog answers the big questions around teaching AI Ethics and provides resources that high school teachers and students can use to learn about AI Ethics.


What is AI Ethics and what does it include?


There are many aspects that one should consider when being ethical and responsible with AI. They include:

- AI Bias: AIs learn from data, and it is possible for AIs to learn biases against minorities and other underrepresented groups. As AI becomes more widespread, we are seeing more cases of AI bias in everything from hiring tools to facial recognition systems. Learning about AI Bias and how to avoid it is a critical part of AI Ethics.

- AI and Privacy: Since AIs learn from data, information gathered by companies and websites can be used to discover patterns about users. Countries and states are enacting laws to help consumers control how their private information is gathered and used (examples are the Right to Explanation clauses in the European Union's Data Protection Regulation).

- AI and the Environment: Large AI models consume a lot of computer resources during training. For example - a large language AI model can consume as much energy during one training as five cars will in their lifetime. Reducing the energy use of AI is an important element of AI Ethics.

- The Role of Humans: AIs can automate many tasks. Where do humans fit in? What decisions should AIs be allowed to make alone and which decisions should have human involvement? This is possibly the hardest question around Ethical AI.


Can you teach AI ethics?


Absolutely. It is quite straightforward to lead students in discussions about the topics above. Later in this blog post we point to resources and exercises that you can use. The important thing to keep in mind when teaching AI ethics is that all of these are unsolved problems. Encourage the students to gather information and form their own opinions. A successful AI Ethics lesson will leave students ready to participate in this important questions for their society.


What are top principles for ethical artificial intelligence?


The top principles are Fairness, Transparency, Privacy, and Human Centeredness. Lets discuss these in turn. Fairness means that the AIs treat all groups in a similar fashion and is not biased against some groups. Transparency (also called Explainability in the AI world) means that we can understand and explain how an AI made its decision. Privacy means that the information used to create the AI is appropriate and did not violate the rights of anyone. Human Centeredness means that the role of humans in the process was carefully considered.


Another emerging principle is security. As AI becomes more pervasive, more incidents are emerging of AIs being "hacked" or broken into. Preventing this will become a key element of AI ethics in the future. What are the 3 big ethical concerns of AI?


At the moment, the three biggest concerns are Fairness (also called AI Bias), Privacy, and lack of Transparency (need for Explainability).

Does AI understand morality?

No. AIs learn patterns from information, and will learn whatever pattern is represented in the data. For example, if an AI is given historical data about car loan approvals and asked to find a pattern, it can easily discover that loans are best given to male applicants and possibly that loans are not given to minorities (if the data included such historical discrimination). The AI has no ability to apply judgement to the data. It is the responsibility of the human to ensure that such patterns are removed from the data before giving the data to the AI.


What resources can I use to teach AI Ethics to my high schoolers?



Stay tuned on this blog. In the next few weeks we will be posting details about how to teach AI Ethics to Middle School and also to Elementary School students.




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