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Analysis of AI applications, drawing on ethical understandings

Integrating Digital Technologies
Years 5-6; 7-8

AI has potential to be an integral part of systems across many industries and transform the way we do things. This technology though, needs to be used carefully and thoughtfully. What are some of the challenges we face when implementing AI systems? How can AI be used for good? How do we ensure fairness for all? AI systems need to be safe and reliable. We need our personal information and privacy protected. These are all ethical considerations that must be part of the development and lifecycle of an AI system.

This lesson plan explores the ethical aspects of artificial intelligence and the implications on our future lives.

This lesson was developed by the Digital Technologies Institute in collaboration with the DT Hub.


 

Image credit: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke/ Pixabay


Preliminary notes

Key terms

Key learnings

Increased proficiency in both analysing how existing AI systems meet needs, affect people, and change society and the world, and in predicting the effects of future systems.

Development of ethical understanding through analysis of AI systems and related questioning about their development and lifecycle.

Prerequisites

Print out sufficient copies of the worksheets in the Resources section.

Background: Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence is the ability of machines to mimic human capabilities in a way that we would consider 'smart'. Machine Learning is an application of AI. With Machine Learning, we give the machine many examples of data, demonstrating what we would likethe machine to do so that it can figure out how to achieve a goal on its own. The machine learns and adapts its strategy to achieve this goal.

Implementing the lesson

This lesson can be carried out as a whole-of-class, or by students working in smaller groups.

  • Use a video to introduce AI and machine learning and to discuss benefits and possible risks.
  • Provide your students with the three scenarios provided below to stimulate discussion about AI. (Alternatively, use some of your own AI scenarios if they better suit your students' needs and interests.)
  • Use a flow chart to support and guide students as they consider questions that draw on ethical understandings.
  • Use a worksheet (provided) to record the good points, bad points and mitigation steps related to some uses of AI.

Suggested steps

Introduce AI applications

Ask students to think about the potential for using AI and how society may benefit.

Explain that as with any technology there may be risks associated with its use.

View the video AI: Impact on Society which provides an introduction to machine learning and raises possible risks associated with this powerful technology.

Introduce the following AI scenarios. View the suggested videos and discuss the applications.

Scenario 1: Face Recognition

Option A

Face recognition is increasingly being used by the Australian Border Force to determine if a person should be allowed to enter the country. You may have seen this at international airports, where people can have their passport scanned and photos of their faces taken. The computer then checks a database, which determines if the passport holder and the person in front of the camera are the same, and if that person is a citizen of Australia or a valid visa holder. If the answers are all ‘yes’, then a gate opens to let the person walk through.

Option B

Airlines use AI to improve the efficiency of boarding a plane at the airport by automating the process of baggage drop-off, getting a boarding pass and matching you with your passport using facial recognition software. You may choose to show the video Don’t smile for surveillance: Why airport face scans are a privacy trap. Although this video features US airports and related US-based protocols, it provides some of the fundamentals about the technology – and some of its pitfalls.


Scenario 2: AI powered skin cancer app

Smartphone apps with AI technology are assisting people to diagnose potential skin cancers. One such example is the app Helfie.

You may choose to use the fact sheet Check for signs of skin cancer. This fact sheet can be used to discuss the importance of a diverse range of skin types to create the AI model and potential for risk of incorrect classification.


Scenario 3: Self-driving cars (autonomous vehicles)

Some new cars now come with AI assistants that help drivers. Here are two examples:

  • Lane assistants help keep the car in the lane, so that it does not veer off the road to the left, or crash into other cars on the right.
  • Adaptive cruise control keeps the driver’s car at a constant distance from the car in front. To enable this, the system adjusts the speed of the driver’s car as necessary.

Many new cars have cameras, radar and other sensors that provide information to an onboard AI. The AI makes decisions and then instructs the steering wheel or the brakes to carry out these decisions.

Some cars are ‘autonomous’ – can even drive themselves.

To see one of these, view the video Waymo 360° Experience: A Fully Self-Driving Journey.


Analysis

Use a flow chart to support and guide students as they consider questions that draw on ethical understanding. Select the appropriate flowchart to present to your class: simplified version, complex version. Discuss each question on the flowchart with the aim of providing and eliciting related concrete examples. Elaborate as necessary to ensure student understanding.

Ethical considerations flowchart simplified: Step 1: Who benefits from the AI system and how? Step 2: Does the AI system respect people's rights? Step 3: Is the AI system developed around fairness? Step 4: Does the AI system uphold privacy and protect security of data? Step 5: Is the AI system reliable and safe? Step 6: Who is accountable if something goes wrong.

Ethical considerations flowchart: Step 1: Who benefits from the AI system and how? Consider individuals, society, organisations and environments? Step 2: Does the AI system respect people's rights? Consider the potential negative impact on people's freedom. Step 3: Is the AI system developed around fairness? Consider whether certain groups of people are discriminated against or treated unfairly. Step 4: Does the AI system uphold privacy and protect security of data? Consider the potential for breaches in security or privacy or personal information. Step 5: Is the AI system reliable and safe? Consider whether it works as iintended and if it's accurate. Step 6: Who is accountable if something goes wrong. Consider what might go wrong and some of the risks.

Provide students with the worksheet Analyse an AI application: Considering ethical design and impacts.

Here’s an example of the completed worksheet: Analyse an AI application: Considering ethical design and impacts

Ask students to view the flowchart as they complete the worksheet, focusing on the analysis of one of the AI scenarios.

At the completion of the task, have students share what they have identified as good and bad points as well as their suggestions for how the issues may be addressed and avoided/mitigated.


Extension

To learn more about artificial neural networks, explore the experiments in this course at https://mycomputerbrain.net/php/courses/ai.php

Ethical questions

An AI makes decisions purely on the basis of its training and its input data. How could an AI become aware of ethical decision making? Possible avenues of exploration are:

  • training the AI in an ethical process that provides feedback when the AI behaves unethically
  • using a second AI (ethics-AI) to watch over the output of the AI and intervene if the AI makes unethical decisions – acting like a conscience
  • comparing an AI’s decision-making process to some of the ways humans make ethical decisions.

Resources