SFU students tackle AI ethical dilemmas

Relatively new field can't keep pace with rapidly advancing technology


By Milica Anic

Students at Simon Fraser University say the implementation of ethics is key for a progressive future with artificial intelligence

With growing developments in artificial intelligence, SFU students presented research projects at the university’s Computer Science Undergraduate Research Symposium 2023, tackling the rapidly evolving technology and the ethical dilemmas that come with it.

Artificial intelligence is still a relatively new field, said Lucia Vo, a first-year SFU computer science student. At a first-year level, her education has been focusing on broader concepts, such as data structure and intro to computer science.

“There’s obviously lots of competing scientists… [the field is] in its infancy,” said Vo.

Parsa Rajabi, a second-year computer science major, said the idea of informing everyone that there is a bad actor in the room is important when it comes to the ethical dilemmas of AI .

“There’s always bad apples in the bunch, but recognizing that they do exist … is probably the [most] important part,” Rajabi said.  

Introducing artificial intelligence into education 

Rajabi also said that AI literacy, the understanding of the positives and negatives of AI, and the question of at what age should children be taught about AI has “come up a lot” for him.

“The problem is that the teachers who teach within K-12 don’t have the knowledge to teach it,” said Rajabi. “The idea should be that you as an instructor should teach your students how to use it. But most instructors don’t do that because of fear of negative consequences such as plagiarism in the classroom.”

Gabriel Stang, second-year computer science student at SFU said there is a branch of AI called AI safety that talks about all kinds of negatives potentially associated with AI.

“There’s a lot of interesting ideas about how to stop general artificial intelligence [from] doing things you don’t want,’’ Stang said.

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