Video: Provost’s Ethics Colloquium explores ethics of artificial intelligence

Video by RamEvents

Privacy. Surveillance. Influence. Medical expert Matthew DeCamp and Colorado State University faculty explored the constellation of issues surrounding artificial intelligence during the annual Provost’s Ethics Colloquium this week.

DeCamp, a medical doctor and associate professor at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, was the keynote speaker at the Provost’s Ethics Colloquium on Nov. 28, which also included a panel discussion featuring CSU faculty members conducting AI research.

DeCamp’s keynote at the Lory Student Center included a historical overview of AI and its impact on health care, examining the ethical issues involving facial recognition, chatbots and large public datasets, among other areas.

DeCamp touched on how dermatology software for identifying skin conditions can have performance issues in helping people with darker skin tones and those who identify as women.

He also shared how an algorithm designed to allocate health resources falsely concluded Black patients needed less health care. He explained that the bias occurred because the algorithm used health costs as a proxy for health needs, noting that less money is spent on Black patients because of historical injustices and structural racism.

“You can sometimes have biased artificial intelligence, even when the particular variable in question by race is taken out,” he said. “So, you might think, I’ll make a fair algorithm. I’ll just take race and other obsessional variables out of the algorithm. Well, guess what? AI is so smart that it can eventually figure out biases and replicate them, and perpetuate them, even if you’ve taken those steps to take out race.”

Photos by Avery Martin/College of Health and Human Sciences

Established in 2016, the Provost’s Ethics Colloquium was designed to promote cross-disciplinary, cross-college conversations about ethics-related issues. The colloquium resumed this year after being temporarily paused during the pandemic.

Sponsored by the Office of the Provost, Center for Ethics and Human Rights and the Data Science Research Institute at CSU, this year’s edition also featured a moderated panel discussion with DeCamp and the following faculty members:

  • Elizabeth Barnes, Department of Atmospheric Science and Data Science Research Institute.
  • Jude Bayham, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics, Department of Epidemiology and Data Science Research Institute.
  • Chris Becker, Department of Accounting and Center for Ethics and Human Rights.
  • Michael Kirby, Department of Mathematics and Department of Computer Science.
  • Nikhil Krishnaswamy, Department of Computer Science and Data Science Research Institute.

“Our comeback feature this fall on ‘The Ethics of AI’ led to a fascinating presentation and lively discussion this evening on the role of artificial intelligence in our society and the future of its role in complex decision-making,” said Matt Hickey, associate dean at the College of Health and Human Sciences, who moderated the discussion. “It was a great topic and clearly of high interest.”