Artificial Intelligence and Responsible Innovation

  • Miles BrundageEmail author
Part of the Synthese Library book series (SYLI, volume 376)


Researchers in AI often highlight the importance of socially responsible research, but the current literature on the social impacts of AI tends to focus on particular application domains and provides little guidance to researchers working in other areas. Additionally, such social impact analysis tends to be done in a one-off fashion, proposing or problematizing a particular aspect of AI at a time, rather than being deeply integrated into innovation processes across the field. This paper argues that work on the societal dimensions of AI can be enriched by engagement with the literature on “responsible innovation,” which has up until now focused on technical domains like nanotechnology, synthetic biology, and geoengineering. Drawing on this literature, the paper describes and justifies three interrelated aspects of what a more deeply integrated, ongoing practice of responsibility in AI would look like: consideration of the social contexts and consequences of decisions in the AI design space; reflectiveness about one’s emphasis on theoretical vs. applied work and choice of application domains; and engagement with the public about what they desire from AI and what they need to know about it. Mapping out these three issues, it is argued, can both describe and theorize existing work in a more systematic light and identify future opportunities for research and practice on the societal dimensions of AI. Finally, the paper describes how philosophical and theoretical aspects of AI connect to issues of responsibility and technological governance.


Responsible innovation Artificial intelligence Social context Applied research Public engagement Governance 



The author would like to acknowledge helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper from David Guston, Erik Fisher, Clark Miller, Illah Nourbakhsh, Stuart Russell, David Atkinson, participants in the Human and Social Dimensions of Science and Technology colloquia at Arizona State University, and two anonymous reviewers. This work was supported by the National Science Foundation under award #1257246 through the Virtual Institute for Responsible Innovation (VIRI). The findings and observations contained in this paper are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Arizona State UniversityTampaUSA

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