24. July 2023

The many meanings of meaningful human control The many meanings of meaningful human control

In the article in the journal "AI and Ethics", Scott Robbins sheds light on the concept of "Meaningful Human Control" (MHC) and its concrete significance.

Universität Bonn
Universität Bonn © CASSIS
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The concept of Meaningful Human Control (MHC) has gained prominence in the field of Artificial Intelligence ethics. MHC is discussed in relation to lethal autonomous weapons, autonomous cars, and more recently, AI systems in general. Little, however, has been done to analyze the concept. Those using MHC tend to look at it narrowly and intuitively—as if it is clear what it means. They fail to see the many issues concerning human control over machines. In this article, I break the concept into its three constitutive words (‘meaningful’, ‘human’, and, ‘control’) to outline the many meanings of MHC. While the intention is not to come to the real meaning of MHC, this analysis brings up the many issues that should be considered if meaningful human control is to be realized. These include: which humans count as meaningful in the application context, whether the control those humans are given must be meaningful, whether humans must retain control over the things that are meaningful in life, whether the style of control is human-like, whether each actor (designer, operator, subject, government) has the control they need, and what it is exactly that a human is controlling (e.g., the training data, the inputs, the outputs, etc. of the AI system).

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