The University of Helsinki offers an online course E

image: AI ethics logo
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Credit: City of Helsinki

Translations into Finnish and Swedish of the AI ​​Ethics online course at the University of Helsinki will start on 23 November, as part of a seminar on information policy at the Ministry of Finance. The course will help public administration, businesses and citizens to understand what it means to use AI ethically and what it requires of society and the individual. The course was developed in collaboration with the cities of Helsinki, Amsterdam and London, as well as with the Finnish Ministry of Finance.

As AI is increasingly used as a decision support for citizens, new types of questions emerge that the course aims to unravel. What ethical points of view should users and developers of different AI systems take into account? What are the ethical stumbling blocks when dealing, for example, with information on human health? How is our information used? Who is responsible for the decisions made by computers? How do we use facial recognition ethically?

Lecturer Anna-Mari Rusanen, responsible for the course content, would like to point out that the ethics of algorithms and smart technologies in general are still being formed, and that the whole discussion of how to assess socially smart technologies is still in progress.

– New examples of situations requiring an ethics review appear every day. This is why it is essential to develop the skills necessary to assess the principles for weighing the acceptability of applications, explains Rusanen.

Rusanen specializes in research on AI and cognition. She studies the information processing of intelligent systems and the ethical and social consequences of the development of AI.

– AI ethics is not just about assessing the ethical acceptance of technology; it turned into a question about politics, money and power. The more they become entangled in the goals of AI development, the more we need a discourse on development goals, writes Rusanen in the book Älykäs huominen (The Smart Tomorrow) (Gaudeamus) which was published at the fall 2021.

Real-life case examples

The online course consists of seven parts; the definition of AI ethics, the principles of benevolence and non-malice, accountability, transparency, human rights, fairness and ethics of AI in practice. Sections include reading material and homework.

Project partners brought real life cases to the course. The city of Helsinki, for example, has a case that focuses on the use of AI in social and health services, and predicting health risks for its citizens. The case of the Ministry of Finance, meanwhile, contemplates the use of recommendation algorithms to deliver improved public services.

The user does not need any coding or special technological skills to participate in the ethics of AI. The university also offers a free online course – Elements of AI – where you can learn general principles of AI. In November, Elements of AI won the international German Design Award in the Excellent Communications Design – Web category.

The new MOOC center of the University of Helsinki started its activities at the beginning of 2021. The objective of the center is to bring continuity and method to the online courses open at the University of Helsinki. In Finland, the Ministry of Education and Culture has addressed the threat of declining skills with projects in which universities provide further ICT education through open online courses.

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