Troubleshooting AI and Consent

In Markus Dubber, Frank Pasquale & Sunit Das (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Ethics of AI. New York, NY, USA: pp. 347-362 (2020)
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As a normative concept, consent can perform the “moral magic” of transforming the moral relationship between two parties, rendering permissible otherwise impermissible actions. Yet, as a governance mechanism for achieving ethical data practices, consent has become strained—and AI has played no small part in its contentious state. In this chapter we will describe how consent has become such a controversial component of data protection as artificial intelligence systems have proliferated in our everyday lives, highlighting five distinct issues. We will then lay out what we call consent’s “moral core,” which emphasizes five elements for meaningful consent. We next apply the moral core to AI systems, finding meaningful consent viable within a particular digital landscape. Finally, we discuss the forces driving some commentators away from individual consent and whether meaningful consent has a future in a smart world.



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