The development and increasing use of new technologies raise critical ethical issues; in particular, Artificial Intelligence opens surprising and unimaginable scenarios that must be adequately regulated and managed responsibly, not to have harmful and undesirable effects.
The diffusion of AI entails the “removal” of human responsibility for particular decisions by taking some tasks away from human control. As a result, human self-determination and choices are being undermined, leaving machines to make increasingly relevant and complex decisions. For example, a self-driving car must decide whether to run over a person crossing the road incorrectly or avoid it by endangering the safety of passengers; or the use of artificial intelligence tools to hire workers. Such “interference” of machines in everyday life can only be accepted if there is a high level of trust in artificial intelligence.
That is why the public sector must maintain continuous control over such processes and regulate them carefully. It is necessary to draft a precise and detailed regulation of what may or may not be left to artificial intelligence, while raising people awareness, in order to manage and not fear new technologies.
Well defined regulatory discipline is needed for all new technologies. Indeed, ethical discussions can be linked to the use of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data and – in particular – to experiments on human beings. On the one hand, these experiments are the only way to discover new treatments; on the other hand, they could become a source of abuse. Therefore, precise and “smart” government regulation is crucial in all these fields to avoid abuse or misuse.
However, the risks and criticalities highlighted in this paper should not slow down the research and development of new technologies. The era we live in offers unprecedented possibilities from a technological and innovative point of view. Therefore, it is essential that researchers continue to be trained and that more and more young people approach the study of new technologies with determination and passion. Artificial Intelligence, HPC and Quantum Computing are areas of continuous growth, with extensive margins for improvement and development in the coming years.
In light of this, it is critical to bring young students closer to private businesses. Unfortunately, several PhD students have difficulties finding a job in the private sector, even though their skills are fundamental and valuable to companies. Therefore, it is necessary to create initiatives to emphasize the added value that an individual with strong technological knowledge can provide.
It is also important to complement technical skills with humanistic skills. We need to develop new generations of scientists who have an in-depth view of their discipline and a broad understanding of the world around them.
This approach must include a much higher share of the female population. New digital technologies are still considered a purely male field, but this is not the case. More and more women are graduating in engineering and specializing in a particular discipline. In contrast to popular belief, engineering, physics, and STEM are very creative subjects in which women can excel. Therefore, it is necessary to envisage mechanisms and policies that enable a high level of inclusion of women in new technologies, following the example set by many research institutions, by launching programs, grants, and activities to recruit women and minorities. Diversification and inclusion in science represent an immense added value and must be vigorously pursued.