‘O’Brien’s presentations have focused on topics such as avoiding algorithmic bias and creating transparency in AI models. . . he views AI as the “spark that lit ethics in tech,” including analytics, the Internet of things, and virtual and augmented reality, as well as AI.’

The World Economic Forum describes the emerging role of full-time ethicists at companies working with AI. They focus on how the job is done at Microsoft.

The Seattle-based tech giant was among the earliest companies to make AI ethics a dedicated function.

Microsoft’s created the position in 2018, responsible for ‘AI policy and ethics.’ The first occupant, still in the role, was Tim O’Brien, a 15-year veteran manager at Microsoft. He had some exposure to ethical thinking at university but no formal training in ethics practices.

The article describes his role as raising awareness. He gives speeches, meets with customers, and talks with analysts. He also conducts research and coordinates ethics-related activities across the company.


What does an AI ethicist do?
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM | August 9, 2019 | by Thomas Davenport

Original published by MIT Sloan School of Management, June 24, 2019