Ethics in NLP at TU Darmstadt

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Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

Why is defining ethics difficult?    

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

How could people be harmed by a research identifiyng sexual orientation from facial features?

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

Why may downloading photos from a dating website as a data set not ethical?    
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Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

Why may using a deep learning model to extract facial and sexual features questionable?    

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

Who is responsible for the use of AI technologies?    

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

Which might be questions to assess AI systems?    

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

What is Aristoteles "Nicomachean Ethics" about?
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Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

In which subjects is ethics a matter of study?    

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

What are possible combinations of morality and legality?    

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

Can we define ethics?        

Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

What is the trolley problem about?        
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What is ethics?    

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Exemplary flashcards for Ethics in NLP at the TU Darmstadt on StudySmarter:

Ethics in NLP

Why is defining ethics difficult?    
  • Ethics is inner guiding, moral principles, and values of people and society
  • Ethics is not black and white; there are grey areas.
  • Ethics changes over time with values and beliefs of people
  • Legal ≠ ethical

Ethics in NLP

How could people be harmed by a research identifiyng sexual orientation from facial features?
  • In many countries being gay person is prosecutable (by law or by society)

  • Might affect people’s employment, family relationship

  • Personal attributes, e.g. gender, race, sexual orientation, religion are social constructs --> can change over time and can be non-binary

    • They are private, intimate, often not visible public

  • Importantly, these are properties for which people are often discriminated against.





Ethics in NLP

Why may downloading photos from a dating website as a data set not ethical?    
  • Legal ≠ Ethical
  • Public ≠ Publicized
  • people didn't agree to participate in the study --> violation of social contract

Ethics in NLP

Why may using a deep learning model to extract facial and sexual features questionable?    
  • Would it be right to use non-interpretable models when making predictions about sensitive models?
    • about complex experimental conditions that require broader world knowledge?
  • How to deal with bias amplification? (= Bias-Verstärkung)

Ethics in NLP

Who is responsible for the use of AI technologies?    
  • The person who uses the technology? The researcher/developer? Paper reviewers? University? Society as a whole?
--> we need to be aware of real-world impact of our research and understand the relationship between ideas and consequences

Ethics in NLP

Which might be questions to assess AI systems?    
  • Who could benefit from such a technology? Who would be harmed?
  • Representativeness of training data --> Could sharing this data have major effect on people's lives?
  • What are confounding variables and corner cases to control for?
  • Does the system optimize for the "right" objective?
  • Could prediction errors have major effect on people's lives?

Ethics in NLP

What is Aristoteles "Nicomachean Ethics" about?
  • Involving what is thought to be beautiful and just

  • Start with what people with good up-bringing and experience in life agree

  • Try to codify rules that are ethical

    • Define ethics to be equal to law or truth (or other way round)




Ethics in NLP

In which subjects is ethics a matter of study?    
Philosophy, Religion, Laws

Ethics in NLP

What are possible combinations of morality and legality?    
  • illegal + immoral: murder, capital punishment
  • legal + immoral: cheating on a spouse, cancelling Game of Thrones
  • illegal + moral: civil disobedience, assassination of a dictator
  • legal + moral: eating an ice cream, eating the last ice cream in the freezer

Ethics in NLP

Can we define ethics?        
probably not within a short amount of time
  • it is a problem with an ill-defined answer
    • it still has some definition of good and bad
    • Not everyone agrees on all examples
    • They do agree on some examples
    • They do have some correlation between people

Ethics in NLP

What is the trolley problem about?        
A trolley is barreling towards five helpless people on the tracks. You can pull a lever to direct it into another track but there is one other person on the other track.

--> Does it make a difference with the number of people or the age of the people?

Ethics in NLP

What is ethics?    

“Ethics is a study of what are good and bad ends to pursue in life and what it is right and wrong to do in the conduct of life.


It is therefore a practical discipline.


Its primary aim is to determine how one ought to live and what actions one ought to do in the conduct of one’s life.”

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