In the article “How AI can be a force for good” written by Mariarosaria Taddeo et al, a key focus is the concept of distributed responsibility, which distributes moral responsibility among designers, regulators, and users of AI technologies. While this is a promising concept, it would be unrealisable simply because decisions made by AI algorithms are still not well understood.

Therefore, it would be rather difficult to pinpoint the cause of undesired outcomes. Even if it was understood, the profuse distribution of responsibility among an AI system’s vast network of contributors would not allow anyone to be held accountable for catastrophic outcomes which would actually encourage misuse of these technologies.

In addition, many developing countries, particularly those in Asia, with weaker governance bodies will struggle to allocate distributed responsibility of AI related catastrophes. In any case, the focus should not be on who should be blamed, but rather how such outcomes can be prevented.

The importance of harnessing the AI potential is significant, however, this should not be done without the presence of human oversight. Having a person overseeing AI systems can help to ensure safe operation of automated tasks.

As expressed by David Thodey, Chairman of the Commonwealth Science, Industry and Research Organisation (CSIRO), at a recent Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) convention in Brisbane, Australia, there are certain tasks that inherently require human judgement. He suggests that in such situations AI should be integrated, rather than being given full autonomy, as this could undermine our basic human rights.

While it is critical to harness the full potential of AI, it is equally important to ensure that it is done so in a sustainable and ethical way. The effectiveness of the current ethical frameworks remains to be seen.


Aninda Saha, Senior Research Associate, and Department of Business Strategy and Innovation Director, Engagement, Dr Tapan Sarker.

This article is an edited version of the authors’ e-letter response to the article “How AI can be a force for good” written by Mariarosaria Taddeo et al, published at Science.