AI Ethics #36: Top 10 AI Ethics Posts of 2020

Happy Holidays!

Welcome to another edition of the Montreal AI Ethics Institute’s weekly newsletter that will help you navigate the fast-changing world of AI Ethics! This week is a retrospective roundup post. More about us at montrealethics.ai/about.


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A message from MAIEI:

Hope you are all enjoying the holiday season and taking some time to reflect on 2020.

We’ve been convening the AI ethics community for a little over 3.5 years now and it has truly grown from being a local community effort in Montreal to something that now has your participation amongst many others from around the world spanning all geographic regions of the globe and all walks of life.

Whether you have engaged with us through reading our material, commenting and sharing your thoughts, or participating in our workshops, we count ourselves lucky to have had the chance to get to know you all better and help to build more ethical, safe, and inclusive AI systems.

2020 certainly has been a year of reckoning from many different perspectives and we’ve realized that the one thing that helps us have resilience is each other. We hope to have your support in 2021 and also look to support the work that you are all doing in the community. We are only an email message away, so don’t hesitate in hitting reply to the email and letting us know how we can do better. (Better yet, there is a feedback form after the highlights section of this newsletter that you can fill out instead!)

Finally, we strive to keep everything that we do at MAIEI open-source and open-access, so we appreciate any support that you can provide. To that end, we’d encourage you to, if possible, subscribe to our newsletter so that we can continue to offer everything that we do to everyone in 2021 and beyond.

We tip our hat to you and look forward to seeing you in 2021!

— The MAIEI Team


Our Top 10 Most Popular Posts of 2020:

  1. The State of AI Ethics Report (October 2020)

Overview of AI Ethics research & reporting between June and October 2020.

  1. The State of AI Ethics Report (June 2020)

Overview of AI Ethics research & reporting between March and June 2020.

  1. The Short Anthropological Guide to the Study of Ethical AI

This short guide serves as both an introduction to AI ethics and social science and anthropological perspectives on the development of AI.

  1. The Whiteness of AI (Research Summary)

In this paper, the authors (Cave and Dihal) examine “how the ideology of race shapes connections and portrayals of artificial intelligence (AI),” contributing to an increasing number of studies and books looking at the connections between race and technology.

  1. Social Robots and Empathy: The Harmful Effects of Always Getting What We Want

This paper asserts that social robots and empathizing with social robots may negatively affect our ability to empathize with other humans.

  1. Virtues Not Principles

This op-ed argues that attention needs to be paid to the character of people involved in AI, and the moral virtues that they possess.

  1. Andrew Ng’s AI For Everyone – The Definitive Starting Block for AI Novices

This is a summary + review of Andrew Ng’s non-technical course AI For Everyone, available on Coursera.

  1. The Unnoticed Cognitive Bias Secretly Shaping the AI Agenda

This explainer was written in response to colleagues’ requests to know more about temporal bias in AI ethics.

  1. Principles alone cannot guarantee ethical AI (Research Summary)

Translating lofty principles into actionable conventions can help address the real challenges in AI Ethics, rather than treating it as something that is to be “solved”.

  1. Decolonial AI: Decolonial Theory as Sociotechnical Foresight in Artificial Intelligence (Research Summary)

To protect and prevent harm against vulnerable groups, the authors recommend adopting a decolonial critical approach in AI to gain better foresight and ethical judgement towards advances in the field.


Let us know how we can improve next year!

We want to know how we can serve you better in 2021, especially with these weekly newsletters and our quarterly State of AI Ethics Reports! It’s a short survey, so we hope you’ll contribute a few minutes of your time in service of improving the experience for the whole community. Looking forward to implementing some of these next year!

Click here to take the 2-minute survey.


Consider supporting our work through Substack

We’re trying a Guardian/Wikipedia-style tipping model: everyone will continue to get the same content but those who can pay for a subscription will support free access (to our newsletter & events) for everyone else. Each contribution, however big or small, helps ensure we can continue to produce quality research, content, and events.

NOTE: When you hit the subscribe button below, you will end up on the Substack page where if you’re not already signed into Substack, you’ll be asked to enter your email address again. Please do so and you’ll be directed to the page where you can purchase the subscription.

Support our work today with as little as $5/month


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