CES 2024: What are the ethical implications of AI?

Gloria Washington, Ph.D., joined WorkingNation at CES 2024 to share her thoughts on the potential impact of tech on the way we work and live

There are challenges around AI and ethics, says Gloria Washington, Ph.D., associate professor, electrical engineering and computer science department at Howard University, a historically Black research institute. But, she says, legislation and policy can work toward remedying issues related to privacy and biases, including in the workforce, to ensure the ethical implications of AI are inclusive of all.

Washington, who is also director of Howard’s Affective Biometrics Lab, sat down with WorkingNation’s editor-in-chief Ramona Schindelheim for WorkingNation Overheard at CES 2024 in Las Vegas to share her thoughts on why it is so important to have divergent voices in that conversation.

“I’m a tech person, but why can’t we have community advocates, the moms and the fathers who are impacted by social media technology and AI,” says Washington. “Everyone needs to be at the table, not just the people who are AI-centric because it leaves out different elements of individuals who are further marginalized. There are things that are impacting them that we never thought about.”

She notes that people of color, women, older people, and those with histories of incarceration need to be part of the inclusion conversation.

At Howard, Washington teaches applied data science, human computer interaction, and emotional intelligence or affective computing.

The ethical implications of AI are front and center in the curriculum, especially at the Affective Biometrics Lab, whose mission is to give voices to individuals or communities that feel marginalized through technologies that leverage human physical, physiological, or behavioral characteristics for identity or emotion recognition.  

“We have semester-based projects, so I’ll always ask them to think about what is the ethical implementation of your senior project or something that you’re doing in human computer interaction. How could it further marginalize someone? How could you either address it in some manner by even putting in a statement? Or maybe there’s technology in the future that will be able to do that?”

Washington adds that she is encouraged that the number of women entering the tech field is increasing. “I am happy to report at Howard, we have 49% women enrolled in the college of engineering and we have more women in my human computer interaction and data science classes.”

Learn more about Howard University.
Learn more about the Affective Biometrics Lab.
Learn more about CES 2024.

Funding for WorkingNation Overheard at CES 2024 was provided, in part, by Walmart.