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University of Helsinki launches Ethics of AI online course

Course has been designed in partnership with the cities of Helsinki, Amsterdam and London and aims to help public administration, businesses and the public understand what the ethical use of AI means.

 

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The course addresses areas such as the use of data and facial recognition technology
The course addresses areas such as the use of data and facial recognition technology

Finland has released a free online artificial intelligence (AI) course which aims to educate public administration, businesses and the general public about the technology and to consider what it should be used for.

 

The Ethics of AI course offered by the University of Helsinki has been designed in a partnership with the cities of Helsinki, Amsterdam and London as well as Finland’s Ministry of Finance.

 

Society and individuals

 

Questions pertaining to the ethics of AI are topical, as many people are already making ethical choices in their work, for example, on data use. The course sets out to help them understand what the ethical use of artificial intelligence means and what it requires from both society and individuals.

 

“These questions include how our data is used, who is responsible for decisions made by computers and whether, say, facial recognition systems are used in a way that acknowledges human rights. In a broader sense, it’s also about how we wish to utilise advancing technical solutions,” said Anna-Mari Rusanen, course coordinator for Ethics of AI.

 

Rusanen works as a university lecturer in cognitive science at the University of Helsinki.

“In the future, a certain level of understanding related to AI will be a civic skill. In terms of artificial intelligence, it’s essential to also consider ethical viewpoints”

The Ethics of AI course consists of seven sections, which include literature and assignments. The sections explore questions of ethics through practical cases, which have been provided by the project partners at the Ministry of Finance and other administrative bodies as well as Helsinki, London and Amsterdam.

 

“The City of Helsinki is developing digital services according to the mindset that they are making the lives of Helsinki residents easier and anticipating service needs. The widespread utilisation of digital services and artificial intelligence requires maintaining trust in the city’s operations,” added Jan Vapaavuori, mayor of Helsinki.

 

“In the future, a certain level of understanding related to AI will be a civic skill. In terms of artificial intelligence, it’s essential to also consider ethical viewpoints.”

 

A case provided by the City of Helsinki used on the course focuses on the use of AI in social and healthcare services as well as in forecasting the health risks of city residents.

 

“What if we had an algorithm at our disposal that could identify, on the basis of residents’ health data, those with a heightened risk of developing, say, cardiovascular diseases? added Pasi Rautio, project manager from the strategies division of the Helsinki City Executive Office

 

“We could invite the people in at-risk groups for check-ups, thus improving their lives and cutting healthcare costs. But would it be ethical?”

 

The City of Helsinki said it wishes to put artificial intelligence to use as transparently as possible. An AI register established by the city describes all of the services where it is using artificial intelligence solutions.

 

Completing the Ethics of AI course does not require coding skills or special technological expertise, but familiarity with machine learning and other similar basic concepts is recommended. It will be translated into Finnish and Swedish in early 2021. The course can be accessed here Ethics of AI online course.

 

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