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This subject investigates the role of ethics and law in responding to the opportunities, challenges and risks raised by increasingly widespread use in society of artificial intelligence (AI) and related computational processes. Techniques such as expert systems, machine learning, neural networks, natural language processing, and machine vision are affecting almost every aspect of modern society. In particular, these techniques are changing the way in which government and business make decisions and the interaction between humans and machines in almost all facets of life. These developments have many beneficial consequences. They also raise a host of concerns, including about the impact of AI on privacy, employment, interpersonal relationships, and human rights. Developing technical, ethical and legal responses to these kinds of technologies, and those have yet to be developed, requires cross disciplinary insights, including from the humanities, science, design, economics, computing, and law. Drawing on these perspectives, and also industry expertise, “AI, Ethics and the Law” explores these issues through a series of case studies, including:
- surveillance and facial recognition technologies
- predictive policing and algorithmic sentencing
- fake news and deep fakes
- algorithmic decision-making in government and by business for employment, credit and social services
- AI in medicine, finance and legal law
- AI in environmental protection and animal welfare
- service and care robots.
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed the subject should have:
- Acquired an understanding of the contribution from different fields, including science and the humanities, into the policy and legal questions raised by AI.
- Analysed and applied the legal responses to AI in a range of current contexts.
- Obtained a general knowledge of the legal issues raised by AI.
- Have the communication skills to clearly articulate and convey complex information regarding AI to relevant specialist and non-specialist audiences.
- Have developed skills to be an engaged participant in debate regarding emerging and contemporary issues in the field of AI.
On completion of this subject, students should have developed skills in:
- Reading inter-disciplinary material in preparation for class;
- Analysing conceptual and practical human rights problems;
- Using legal norms as the basis for advocacy;
- Writing clearly for assignments; and
- Verbal communication through group discussions in tutorials.
Last updated: 20 February 2024