Value Sensitive Design and the Future of Value Alignment in AI

December 16, 2021

This event is online


Delft University of Technology
University of Exeter

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Date, duration, format:

-             16th December 2021

-             5pm CET (8 am San Fransisco time, 11am NYC time)

-             Duration 90min: online 

There is ample discussion of the risks, benefits, and impacts of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Although the exact effects of AI on society are neither clear nor certain, AI is doubtlessly having a profound effect on overall human development and progress, and it will continue to do so in the future. An important line of work in AI and ethics seeks to identify the values or norms that AI ought to be aligned with. However, it is far from clear how appropriate targets for alignment would look like and how they could be identified in light of persistent philosophical challenges about the nature and epistemic accessibility of values. Value sensitive design (VSD) is a prominent and influential approach to ethical design that pre-dates current concerns with the alignment of AI. VSD has been applied to specific technologies such as energy systems, mobile phone usage, architecture projects, manufacturing, and augmented reality systems, to name a few. VSD has also been proposed as a suitable design framework for technologies emerging in the near- and long-term future. VSD might be a practical methodology to tackle the problem of value alignment for AI. This online roundtable discussion aims to discuss whether and how VSD can advance AI ethics in theory and practice. We expect a large audience of AI ethics practitioners and researchers. We will discuss the promises, challenges, and potential of VSD as a methodology for AI ethics and value alignment specifically.



-             Batya Friedman (Professor in the Information School, University of Washington, inventor and leading proponent of VSD, panellist, confirmed)

-             Brian Christian (Journalist, UC Berkeley Science Communicator in Residence, NYT best-selling author of ‘Value Alignment’, Finalist LA Times Best Science & Technology Book, panellist, confirmed)

-             Geert-Jan Houben (Pro Vice-Rector Magnificus Artificial Intelligence, Data and Digitalisation, TU Delft, opening remarks, confirmed)

-             Idoia Salazar (President & co-founder of OdiselAI and Expert in European Parliament’s Artificial Intelligence Observatory, panellist, confirmed)

-             Jeroen van den Hoven (Professor of Ethics and Philosophy of Technology, TU Delft, moderator, confirmed)

-             Marianna B. Ganapini (Assistant Professor, Union College (confirmed)


3min opening pitch by each panellist

Moderated roundtable discussion on three guiding propositions to be discussed, about 20min each

o   Value basis: Value Sensitive Design implies a clear concept of value that can serve as the target of value alignment.

o   Professional practice: The major practical challenge for including value alignment in existing design and engineering practices will be solved by implementing a VSD approach.

o   Evaluation: There is no reliable measure of whether a given AI technology has been successfully aligned with a target value.

This event is hosted jointly by the Montreal AI Ethics Institute and the Delft Design for Values Institute. The Montreal AI Ethics Institute is an international non-profit organisation striving to democratise AI literacy through equipping citizens concerned with AI to take action. The Delft Design for Values Institute is a portal and booster for Design for Values research, education, outreach and co-creation at Delft University of Technology.

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December 16, 2021, 5:00pm CET

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