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Microsoft Works With Engineers to Create AI Ethics Checklist


When professional engineers create new products, they often don’t know how to do their job ethically. They often don’t receive any guidelines from higher-ups. Ethics is a subject that is just starting to be taught in schools, so professional engineers who have been around for decades are often unsure what changes need to be made to their job duties so that they face ethical issues that could threaten their license and cost them their job and fines, among other penalties.

Microsoft researchers understand this dilemma and they have worked with a dozen technology companies to create a comprehensive ethics checklist to guide professional engineers in their work. Microsoft worked with nearly 50 engineers who are working on 37 different products and services. Many work in artificial intelligence fields such as predictive analytics, computer vision and natural language processing.

The main goal of the checklist is to help create important conversations within organizations. The checklist is also there to provide support for professional engineers as they create new products. 

While many professional engineers use checklists in their work, they often don’t help workers reach their intended goals. In many cases, they are not used properly and even ignored. This is often true when checklists are used in fields such as medication, aviation and structural engineering.

This checklist by Microsoft is different. It was designed with active participation from those in the engineering field who are involved in the design and implementation of AI products. It was created with help from Microsoft’s Aether Working Group on Bias and Fairness. The results of the checklist can be found in the research paper entitled “Co-Designing Checklists to Understand Organizational Challenges and Opportunities around Fairness in AI.”

The authors created this checklist from a rough draft. They used existing checklists and research to determine what professional engineers want. The authors conducted 14 interviews and dozens of 90-minute workshops. They then used that feedback to make any necessary edits to the checklist.

So how do professional engineers feel about these checklists? Most of those who participated in this project reacted positively to the idea. There were some, however, who were concerned about the possibility that turning ethics into a checklist could cause some professional engineers to believe that it is possible to guarantee fairness. Also, having a checklist would cause some to avoid discussing complex subjects with colleagues, and this could be harmful. 

Keep Your License With Help From a Tampa Professional Engineers Licensing Lawyer

As we advance in engineering and technology, ethics become a huge deal. Safety and privacy are priorities as new products are developed, especially in the artificial intelligence field.

As technology advances, it’s even easier for professional engineers to face licensing issues for not adhering to ethics. If you are in this situation, seek legal help from Tampa professional engineers licensing lawyer David P. Rankin. He has represented more than 100 Professional Engineers before the Florida Board of Professional Engineers. To schedule a consultation, call (813) 968-6633 or fill out the online form.