Mapping the ethics of generative AI

The advent of generative artificial intelligence and the widespread adoption of it in society engendered intensive debates about its ethical implications and risks. These risks often differ from those associated with traditional discriminative machine learning. To synthesize the recent discourse and map its normative concepts, I conducted a scoping review on the ethics of generative artificial intelligence, including especially large language models and text-to-image models. The paper is available as a preprint on arXiv, accessible via this link. It provides a taxonomy of 378 normative issues in 19 topic areas and ranks them according to their prevalence in the literature. The new study offers a comprehensive overview for scholars, practitioners, or policymakers, condensing the ethical debates surrounding fairness, safety, harmful content, hallucinations, privacy, interaction risks, security, alignment, societal impacts, and others.

Recent media appearances

MIT Technology Review reported on OpenAI’s first empirical research on superalignment and included some comments of mine. Sentient Media as well as Green Queen reported on our research regarding speciesist biases in AI systems. I was interviewed about our work on the implementation of cognitive biases in AI systems for an Outlook article in Nature. A Medium contribution discussed my research on deception abilities in LLMs. Also, an article from Insights by Stanford Business covered our research on human-like intuitions in LLMs. This was also covered in a radio show at Deutschlandfunk, to which you can listen here:

Superhuman intuitions in language models

Our most recent paper on human-like intuitive decision-making in language models was published at Nature Computational Science. The research is also featured in a newspaper article (in German). We show that large language models, most notably GPT-3, exhibit behavior that strikingly resembles human-like intuition – and the cognitive errors that come with it. However, language models with higher cognitive capabilities, in particular ChatGPT, learned to avoid succumbing to these errors and perform in a hyperrational, superhuman manner. For our experiments, we probe language models with tests that were originally designed to investigate intuitive decision-making in humans.

Media coverage on my research on deception abilities in language models

It was a pleasure to be invited to the Data Skeptic podcast, where I discussed my latest research on deception abilities in large language models with Kyle Polich. You can listen to the episode using this link or right here:

The research was also featured in an article at FAZ as well as on a radio program (in German), to which you can listen here. Furthermore, I authored an article (also in German) for Golem. Unfortunately, this content is behind a paywall.

Language models have deception abilities

Aligning large language models (LLMs) with human values is of great importance. However, given the steady increase in reasoning abilities, future LLMs are under suspicion of becoming able to deceive human operators and utilizing this ability to bypass monitoring efforts. As a prerequisite to this, LLMs need to possess a conceptual understanding of deception strategies. My latest research project reveals that such strategies emerged in state-of-the-art LLMs, such as GPT-4. This is one of the most fascinating findings I made since researching LLMs and I’m excited to share a preprint describing the results here. I’ll continue working on this project.

News

++++ Sarah Fabi and I updated the paper on human-like intuitive decision-making and errors in large language models by testing ChatGPT, GPT-4, BLOOM, and other models – here’s the new manuscript +++ I co-authored a paper on privacy literacy for the new Routledge Handbook of Privacy and Social Media +++ Together with Leonie Bossert, I published a paper on the ethics of sustainable AI +++ I got my own article series at Golem, called KI-Insider, where I will regularly publish new articles (in German) +++ I attended two further Science Slams in Friedrichshafen and Tübingen and won both of them +++ I was interviewed for a podcast about different AI-related topics (in German) +++


Using psychology to investigate behavior in language models

Large language models (LLMs) are currently at the forefront of intertwining AI systems with human communication and everyday life. Therefore, it is of great importance to thoroughly assess and scrutinize their capabilities. Due to increasingly complex and novel behavioral patterns in current LLMs, this can be done by treating them as participants in psychology experiments that were originally designed to test humans. For this purpose, I wrote a new paper introducing the field of “machine psychology”. It aims to discover emergent abilities in LLMs that cannot be detected by most traditional natural language processing benchmarks. A preprint of the paper can be read here.

I’m hiring!

Looking for an exciting opportunity to explore the ethical implications of AI, specifically generative AI and large language models? I am seeking applications for a Ph.D. position (f/m/d) in my independent research group at the University of Stuttgart. For more details on how to apply, visit this link.

New papers

Paper #1 – AI ethics and its side-effects (Link)

I wrote a critical article about my own discipline, AI ethics, in which I argue that the assumption that AI ethics automatically decrease the likelihood of unethical outcomes in the AI field is flawed. The article lists risks that either originate from AI ethicists themselves or from the consequences their embedding in AI organizations has. The compilation of risks comprises psychological considerations concerning the cognitive biases of AI ethicists themselves as well as biased reactions to their work, subject-specific and knowledge constraints AI ethicists often succumb to, negative side effects of ethics audits for AI applications, and many more.

Paper #2 – A virtue-based framework for AI ethics (Link)

Many ethics initiatives have stipulated standards for good technology development in the AI sector. I contribute to that endeavor by proposing a new approach that is based on virtue ethics. It defines four “basic AI virtues”, namely justice, honesty, responsibility, and care, all of which represent specific motivational settings that constitute the very precondition for ethical decision-making in the AI field. Moreover, it defines two “second-order AI virtues”, prudence and fortitude, that bolster achieving the basic virtues by helping with overcoming bounded ethicality or hidden psychological forces that can impair ethical decision making and that are hitherto disregarded in AI ethics. Lastly, the paper describes measures for successfully cultivating the mentioned virtues in organizations dealing with AI research and development.

Paper #3 – Ethical and methodological challenges in building morally informed AI systems (Link)

Recent progress in large language models has led to applications that can (at least) simulate possession of full moral agency due to their capacity to report context-sensitive moral assessments in open-domain conversations. However, automating moral decision-making faces several methodological as well as ethical challenges. In the paper, we comment on all these challenges and provide critical considerations for future research on full artificial moral agency.