‘AI causes new challenges for research ethics at universities’

The acceleration of knowledge and the emergence of new technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), has provoked new ethical questions and requires universities to approach research ethics differently. This is the view of Professor Sylvie Pommier, director of Doctoral Research at Université Paris-Saclay.

As a response, the university officially created the Université Paris-Saclay Research Ethics and Scientific Integrity Council (POLETHIS) last month.

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“International, world-class universities have a responsibility to train and advise researchers on projects that have an impact on people,” said Pommier. “In some areas, especially in technology, there have been advancements that impact society differently and we must adapt our advice to protect scientific integrity.”

The council will focus on four key areas. These include a forum for exchanging views, sharing experiences and giving advice on what to do to preserve scientific integrity, as well as training in research ethics for every PhD student and supervisor.

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Under this initiative, the Université Paris-Saclay Ethics Assessment Committee will be available to give advisory ethics opinions on research protocols involving human subjects to any researchers at the university.

The council will also carry out its own research into ethics. It will be chaired by Emmanuel Hirsch, medical ethics professor at Université Paris-Sud, a founding member of Université Paris-Saclay.

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After beginning this process in January, the council has been specifically tailored to the needs of the university’s research fields, and it aims to address the challenges within its laboratories in the most efficient way.

As the use of AI becomes more prevalent in a range of fields, the question of ethics is something that will need to be increasingly asked and accounted for from a governance perspective.

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Nick Ismail

Nick Ismail is the editor for Information Age. He has a particular interest in smart technologies, AI and cyber security.