A Principle-based Ethical Assurance Argument for AI and Autonomous Systems

by   Zoe Porter, et al.

An assurance case presents a clear and defensible argument, supported by evidence, that a system will operate as intended in a particular context. Assurance cases often inform third party certification of a system. One emerging proposal within the trustworthy AI and Autonomous Systems (AS) research community is to extend and apply the assurance case methodology to achieve justified confidence that a system will be ethically acceptable when used in a particular context. In this paper, we develop and further advance this proposal, in order to bring the idea of ethical assurance cases to life. First, we discuss the assurance case methodology and the Goal Structuring Notation (GSN), which is a graphical notation that is widely used to record and present assurance cases. Second, we describe four core ethical principles to guide the design and deployment of AI/AS: justice; beneficence; non-maleficence; and respect for personal autonomy. Third, we bring these two components together and structure an ethical assurance argument pattern - a reusable template for ethical assurance cases - on the basis of the four ethical principles. We call this a Principle-based Ethical Assurance Argument pattern. Throughout, we connect stages of the argument to examples of AI/AS applications and contexts. This helps to show the initial plausibility of the proposed methodology.


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