Making Machines Mindful: NYU Professor Talks Responsible AI

NYU professor explains how responsible AI impacts lawmakers, businesses and everyday people.
by Kristen Yee

Artificial intelligence is now a household term. Responsible AI is hot on its heels.

Julia Stoyanovich, associate professor of computer science and engineering at NYU and director of the university’s Center for Responsible AI, wants to make the terms “AI” and “responsible AI” synonymous.

In the latest episode of the NVIDIA AI Podcast, host Noah Kravitz ‌spoke with Stoyanovich about responsible AI, her advocacy efforts and how people can help.

Stoyanovich started her work at the Center for Responsible AI with basic research. She soon realized that what was needed were better guardrails, not just more algorithms.

As AI’s potential has grown, along with the ethical concerns surrounding its use, Stoyanovich clarifies that the “responsibility” lies with people, not AI.

“The responsibility refers to people taking responsibility for the decisions that we make individually and collectively about whether to build an AI system and how to build, test, deploy and keep it in check,” she said.

AI ethics is a related concern, used to refer to “the embedding of moral values and principles into the design, development and use of the AI,” she added.

Lawmakers have taken notice. For example, New York recently implemented a law that makes job candidate screening more transparent.

According to Stoyanovich, “the law is not perfect,” but “we can only learn how to regulate something if we try regulating” and converse openly with the “people at the table being impacted.”

Stoyanovich wants two things: for people to recognize that AI can’t predict human choices and that AI systems be transparent and accountable, carrying a “nutritional label.”

That process should include considerations on who is using AI tools, how they’re used to make decisions and who is subjected to those decisions, she said.

Stoyanovich urges people to “start demanding actions and explanations to understand” how AI is used at local, state and federal levels.

“We need to teach ourselves to help others learn about what AI is and why we should care,” she said. “So please get involved in how we govern ourselves, because we live in a democracy. We have to step up.”

Explore generative AI sessions and experiences at NVIDIA GTC, the global conference on AI and accelerated computing, running March 18-21 in San Jose, Calif., and online.

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