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Decision Tree for the Responsible Application of Artificial Intelligence

About the Decision Tree

An image of the first page of the "AAAS Decision Tree for the Responsible Application of Artificial Intelligence." Full decision tree available for download. This image is of the first page of the decision tree. The text is available as rich text within the PDF that this image is hyperlinked to.

The Decision Tree for the Responsible Application of Artificial Intelligence is a guide to operationalizing a broad set of principles that AAAS has identified as core components of an ethical approach to developing and implementing artificial intelligence. Its goal is to assist those who may be contemplating AI solutions in asking appropriate questions and identifying practical steps that will help them progress towards implementing the technology in an effective, ethical way. This approach is especially important for first-time users of AI solutions, as decisions that are made early in the development or deployment process often get “baked in” to subsequent implementations. As such, it is critical that users include ethics early as possible.

AI is an emerging technology with many potential opportunities for harmful unintended consequences. If followed carefully, however, the AAAS Decision Tree will assist users in leveraging the tremendous power of AI in a way that results in transformative outcomes while respecting the fundamental rights and dignity of all stakeholders.

The Decision Tree grew out of a report that AAAS authored during the COVID-19 pandemic. As AAAS compiled the report, it became clear that certain principles were generalizable beyond the circumstances of public health. AAAS then synthesized these into the Decision Tree, which endeavors operationalize the principles into practical guidance. In this way, AAAS seeks to empower users to leverage the potential of AI while upholding strict ethical standards and respecting the rights and dignity of stakeholders.

DISCLAIMER: The "Decision Tree for the Responsible Application of Artificial Intelligence" is a resource produced by by the AAAS Center for Scientific Responsibility and does not necessarily reflect the opinions, views or policy positions of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) or its members.

About the Initiative

The (AI)² initiative builds on AAAS’s long history as a pioneer in exploring the social, ethical, and legal implications and applications of emerging technologies. The initiative involves programs across our organization and operates in five key action areas: assessing attitudes towards technology in historically marginalized communities; developing a framework for the responsible application of AI; developing and disseminating recommendations to stakeholders through the AAAS Office of Government Relations; addressing the legal implications of AI and; building corporate infrastructure to support human rights organizations. To implement the latter of these action areas, AAAS engages, guides and incentivizes technology companies in their efforts to build public interest infrastructure that supports AI-based technologies for human rights.

Funding for the AI2 initiative is provided in part by Microsoft. The Ford Foundation has provided funding for the project on building corporate infrastructure to support human rights organizations.

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