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Ethics of Artificial Intelligence Explored in Research Library Issues

robot that looks like a woman
Sophia by Hanson Robotics, image CC-BY by
ITU / R. Farrell

The latest issue of Research Library Issues (RLI) opens a conversation about the ethical implications of artificial intelligence (AI) in the context of knowledge production, dissemination, and preservation.

AI is rapidly becoming ubiquitous. With so much underway in the field of AI, there is a need for research libraries to act, starting with clarifying AI ethics policies, principles, and practices.

To frame this discussion, we invited three individuals to share their expertise and recommendations in this issue of RLI. In the first article, Sylvester Johnson, the founding director of the Center for Humanities and the assistant vice provost for the humanities at Virginia Tech, focuses on the role of ethics in innovation. AI, like other influential technologies, can be a force for innovation, and is known to have harmful as well as helpful implications, which Johnson examines.

Within the broad context of policy and principles, there is an opportunity for research libraries to make a difference today—explainable artificial intelligence (XAI). In the second article, Michael Ridley, Librarian Emeritus at the University of Guelph, PhD candidate at Western University, and postgraduate affiliate at Vector Institute, defines XAI, and situates it in the context of privacy, opacity, and trust.

Geneva Henry, dean of Libraries and Academic Innovation at The George Washington University, ties it all together with an article on the role of the research library in formulating and implementing institutional policy based on the needs of the users, and in the context of public policy. Starting out with an assessment of national investments in AI, Henry emphasizes the role of policies that promote ethically responsible practice.

The table of contents with links to the articles follows:

Research Library Issues no. 299 (2019) is freely available from ARL Digital Publications.


About the Association of Research Libraries

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) is a nonprofit organization of 124 research libraries in Canada and the US whose mission is to advance research, learning, and scholarly communication. The Association fosters the open exchange of ideas and expertise, promotes equity and diversity, and pursues advocacy and public policy efforts that reflect the values of the library, scholarly, and higher education communities. ARL forges partnerships and catalyzes the collective efforts of research libraries to enable knowledge creation and to achieve enduring and barrier-free access to information. ARL is on the web at ARL.org.