Ethics in AI Colloquium | The Economic Impact of AI

Profile picture of speakers for Ethics in AI and Economic Impact

Ethics in AI Colloquium | The Economic Impact of AI


Online Event: Wednesday 26 October 2022, 5 - 6.15pm

The next phase of digital technologies, including those focused on machine intelligence, can have tremendous benefits for humanity. But on their current path, they are likely to have tremendous negative consequences. This is for four interrelated reasons.

1. Current AI is largely focused on data collection and monitoring that disempowers workers and citizens and empowers governments and companies that are already disproportionately influential in critical social decisions. This imbalance has significant economic and social costs.

2. The field of AI has, from its very early stages, excessively focused on reaching and surpassing human capabilities and intelligence. This has made it biased towards automation, rather than using digital technologies for amplifying human capabilities and creating new tasks for workers. Automation, when practiced at the expense of other technological paths, tends to have adverse effects and rarely delivers on the promised productivity gains.

3. New technologies are most useful when they are embedded in a democratic setting, where society at large has a say in this direction and thus on its distributional consequences. The current trajectory of AI is not going in this direction.

4. All of this is exacerbated by the fact that AI scientists and practitioners do not take ethical issues seriously. Here by ethical issues I do not just mean philosophical questions, but also concerns about societal implications in the clear focus on who wins and who loses from specific paths of technology that we are charting at the moment.


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The Institute for Ethics in AI will bring together world-leading philosophers and other experts in the humanities with the technical developers and users of AI in academia, business and government. The ethics and governance of AI is an exceptionally vibrant area of research at Oxford and the Institute is an opportunity to take a bold leap forward from this platform.

Every day brings more examples of the ethical challenges posed by AI; from face recognition to voter profiling, brain machine interfaces to weaponised drones, and the ongoing discourse about how AI will impact employment on a global scale. This is urgent and important work that we intend to promote internationally as well as embedding in our own research and teaching here at Oxford.


john tasioulas

Daron Acemoglu is an Institute Professor at MIT and an elected fellow of the National Academy of Sciences, American Philosophical Society, the British Academy of Sciences, the Turkish Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Econometric Society, the European Economic Association, and the Society of Labor Economists. He is also a member of the Group of Thirty.

He is the author of five books, including New York Times bestseller Why Nations Fail: Power, Prosperity, and Poverty (joint with James A. Robinson), Introduction to Modern Economic Growth, and The Narrow Corridor: States, Societies, and the Fate of Liberty (with James A. Robinson).

His academic work covers a wide range of areas, including political economy, economic development, economic growth, technological change, inequality, labor economics and economics of networks.

Daron Acemoglu has received the inaugural T. W. Shultz Prize from the University of Chicago in 2004, and the inaugural Sherwin Rosen Award for outstanding contribution to labor economics in 2004, Distinguished Science Award from the Turkish Sciences Association in 2006, the John von Neumann Award, Rajk College, Budapest in 2007, the Carnegie Fellowship in 2017, the Jean-Jacques Laffont Prize in 2018, the Global Economy Prize in 2019, and the CME Mathematical and Statistical Research Institute prize in 2021.

He was awarded the John Bates Clark Medal in 2005, the Erwin Plein Nemmers Prize in 2012, and the 2016 BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award.

He holds Honorary Doctorates from the University of Utrecht, the Bosporus University, University of Athens, Bilkent University, the University of Bath, Ecole Normale Superieure, Saclay Paris, and the London Business School.


Profile picture of Ekaterina Hertog

Ekaterina (Katya) Hertog is an Associate Professor in AI and Society, joint with the Oxford Internet Institute and in association with Wadham College. Ekaterina’s research interests lie at the intersection of digital sociology and family sociology. She leads the ESRC-funded DomesticAI project that scopes new technologies’ potential to free up time now locked into unpaid domestic labour and measures how willing people are to introduce these technologies into their private lives. First research findings are available as pre-prints here: The future(s) of unpaid work: How susceptible do experts from different backgrounds think the domestic sphere is to automation and The future of unpaid work: Estimating the effects of automation on time spent on housework and care work in Japan and the UK.

Katya’s earlier study of never-married single mothers in Japan provided an in-depth analysis of Japanese women’s decision-making on childbearing issues and the related value systems and was published as a book by Stanford University Press titled Tough Choices: Bearing an Illegitimate Child in Contemporary Japan. Her other research includes analyses of gender differences in time use in East Asia and an investigation of digital dating records from one of Japan’s largest matchmakers to scrutinise partner search processes, identifying the social factors that drive individual success and failure in the Japanese marriage market. In addition, she has published in journals such as the Journal of Marriage and Family, Demographic Research, and PLOS One.


Portrait of Maximilian Kasy

Maximilian Kasy is Professor of Economics at the University of Oxford. He received his PhD at UC Berkeley and joined Oxford coming from Harvard University. His current research interests focus on social foundations for statistics and machine learning, going beyond traditional single-agent decision theory. He also works on economic inequality, job guarantee programs, and basic income. Max teaches a course on the foundations of machine learning in the economics department.



Chaired by

John Tasioulas

John Tasioulas,  the inaugural Director for the Institute for Ethics and AI, and Professor of Ethics and Legal Philosophy, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Oxford. He was previously the inaugural Chair of Politics, Philosophy & Law and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy & Law at The Dickson Poon School of Law, Kings College London. Professor Tasioulas has degrees in Law and Philosophy from the University of Melbourne, and a D.Phil in Philosophy from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. He was previously a Lecturer in Jurisprudence at the University of Glasgow, Reader in Moral and Legal Philosophy at the University of Oxford, where he taught from 1998-2010, and Quain Professor of Jurisprudence at University College London. He has also acted as a consultant on human rights for the World Bank and is a member of the International Advisory Board of the European Parliament's Panel for the Future of Science and Technology (STOA). He has published widely in moral, legal, and political philosophy.

John will be joined on the panel by the following Oxford University Commentators, Ekaterina Hertog, Associate Professor in AI and Society and Maximilian Kasy, Professor of Economics.

Find out more about the full Institute for Ethics in AI programme here.