What is design for responsible AI?

Image by Alan Warburton / © BBC / Better Images of AI / Nature / CC-BY 4.0.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has its early origins in the late 1950s as a scientific discipline that aimed to simulate different forms of intelligence using machines. Since then the term AI has been equally used by tech journalists, computer scientists, new media artists, investors, politicians and science fiction writers to refer in multiple ways to a fascinating speculation: that cognitive functions as learning, reasoning, perception or even creativity can be described and modeled with such accuracy that it would be possible to reproduce them using computers.

For the last 10 years, the exponential growth of planetary-scale data collection technologies, computational power and a data-driven media culture have enabled a wide range of successful applications of AI systems in areas such as natural language comprehension or image and speech recognition, accelerating the adoption of these systems across industries for automation of process, tasks and decisions at unprecedented scales, giving rise to crucial and interrelated ethical, societal and environmental challenges in public and private sectors, that we will explore deeper in Elisava’s new Master in Design for Responsible AI.

In recent years, different research institutions, governments and private companies around the globe, have developed robust research projects to design principles, guidelines, methodologies and tools for ethical, accountable and trustworthy AI systems and practices, often referred to as the emerging field of ‘Responsible AI’. 

Responsible AI practices aim to understand AI as socio-technical systems to study the different impacts they have in society and the Planet, while designing theories, frameworks, methods and other tools for an ethical, legal, and sustainable development, deployment, governance and usage of AI systems.

What jobs can you get with a masters in design for responsible artificial intelligence?

The widespread implementation and scale of AI systems in society, is feeding an increasing need for professionals who can think broadly and critically while communicating clearly about AI, automated decision-making and its ethical, environmental, cultural and societal implications, both within the tech companies developing those systems and across the private and public sectors. 

As a specialist in Design for Responsible/Trustworthy AI or digital ethics specialist, graduates will be equipped and well-placed to advance their careers in the tech sector, as well as in its intersection with areas such as media, consultancy, policy-making, public innovation, financial services or sustainability.

Image by Alan Warburton / © BBC / Better Images of AI / Virtual Human / CC-BY 4.0.

Which schools offer masters in design for responsible artificial intelligence? 

At Elisava we are launching the first and only Master programme focused on the intersection of design and artificial intelligence with an emphasis on trustworthy AI, looking at ethical AI and the ethical dilemmas that are emerging in Europe and other regions aiming to regulate how AI systems are deployed across society.

Aside from a wide and increasing range of Masters focused on the technical dimensions of AI, which have strong Computer Science, Mathematics and Data Science components, in the last two years a few research centers and universities, particularly in the UK, have launched Masters focused on the intersection of Philosophy, Ethics and AI. 

Other universities are also launching related programmes focused on the Governance of AI in the Public sector, but currently there are no offerings on the intersection of Design and Responsible AI.

What can I do with a masters in design for responsible artificial intelligence?

The Master in Design for Responsible Artificial Intelligence aims to address this need with a part-time programme for professionals interested in developing skills in creative research, context analysis, critical thinking and storytelling, and strategic decision-making while investigating the multiple ways in which AI systems are impacting our daily lives and engaging with complex questions emerging from wider issue areas related to digital technologies in sustainability, ethics and social justice from an intersectional and transdisciplinary perspective. 

The programme is partially informed by the insights and recommendations from the ‘Framework for Trustworthy AI Education’, part of the Erasmus+ project ‘Trustworthy AI’, with the goal of facilitating the introduction of the High-Level Expert Group’s Guidelines on Trustworthy AI (EUCommission, 2018) into Higher Education across disciplines and aligned with the EU’s digital strategy, which emphasizes the need to train professionals that can “shape technology in a way that respects European values” (EU, 2020).

What is an MS in design for responsible artificial intelligence used for?

There is a growing need in the public and private sectors, particularly in Europe, to provide tech workers from technical and non-technical backgrounds with a transversal set of capabilities and mindsets to collectively learn how to transform principles (ways of thinking) such as transparency, justice and fairness, non-maleficence, responsibility and privacy into action (ways of doing) to assess and mitigate risks, increase digital media literacy in the wider public and learn the best ways humanity can use these powerful technologies to address the socio-ecological implications of the environmental emergency and make possible the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.

What university offers a good design for responsible artificial intelligence master program?

The Master in Design for Responsible AI at Elisava, is the only master programme to date for professionals with backgrounds in digital service design, strategic design and communications, interaction design, cultural management, political science, social innovation, journalism, trend research, data science or other technical disciplines as data or computer science related to AI systems, who are working in different areas of the digital economy, leading or participating in digital transformation projects across public institutions and private sector organizations.

More information about the Master in Design for Responsible AI.