AI ethics should not remain toothless! A call to bring back the teeth of ethics


Ethics has powerful teeth, but these are barely being used in the ethics of AI today – it is no wonder the ethics of AI is then blamed for having no teeth. This article argues that ‘ethics’ in the current AI ethics field is largely ineffective, trapped in an ‘ethical principles’ approach and as such particularly prone to manipulation, especially by industry actors. Using ethics as a substitute for law risks its abuse and misuse. This significantly limits what ethics can achieve and is a great loss to the AI field and its impacts on individuals and society. This article discusses these risks and then highlights the teeth of ethics and the essential value they can – and should – bring to AI ethics now.


Rességuier, A. and Rodrigues, R., Big Data & Society, 2020.

Date Published

January 1, 2020

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