July 24, 2024

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Tepper School Course Delves Into Ethical AI in Business

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes more widely used, there is growing interest in the ethics of AI. A new article by Derek Leben, associate teaching professor of business ethics at Carnegie Mellon University’s Tepper School of Business, detailed a graduate course he developed titled “Ethics and AI.” The course bridges AI-specific challenges with long-standing ethical discussions in business. 

The article is forthcoming in a special issue of Teaching Ethics.

Photo of Derek Leben associate teaching professor of business ethics at the Tepper School“Asking ethical questions about the responsible design and use of AI is also asking ethical questions about responsible business practices,” said Leben, (pictured left).   

Leben, a philosopher specializing in AI, designed his graduate course by starting with basic definitions and four ethical theories. The course begins with basic AI concepts and ethical theories and progresses through a series of six modules, each focusing on a distinct ethical issue, such as data ownership, transparency, and fairness.

The modules are designed to reflect the stages of an AI system’s data flow, from the collection and processing of training data to the resulting decisions and impacts. Leben’s approach involves practical applications in various sectors, like media, health care, and criminal justice, to illustrate these ethical challenges.

“The goals of the course are to give students an understanding of the ethical challenges raised by AI in business, and to develop skills for criticizing and defending corporate decisions and policies on the use of AI,” he explained.

The course emphasizes debate through argumentative papers and in-class presentations, which allow students to defend the policies of various companies used as case studies. 

Leben’s work highlights the need for a fresh look at traditional business ethics related to new and complex ethical challenges for business and AI. His approach enriches the study of AI ethics and also revitalizes the broader field of business by calling for more accuracy and a new examination of longstanding ethical standards.

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