Generative AI

Definition & Introduction

Generative AI refers to a class of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies that produce outputs such as text, images, datasets, or other media in response to user prompts. These technologies typically leverage machine learning (ML) or large language models (LLMs) to identify patterns in a training data set and use those patterns to generate the outputs.

In an article from Carnegie Council's Artificial Intelligence & Equality Initiative (AIEI) titled “Now is the Moment for a Systemic Reset of AI and Technology Governance,” Senior Fellows Wendell Wallach and Anja Kaspersen highlight the “awe-inspiring” progress that generative AI tech has made in recent years while providing the caveat that algorithms behind these solutions “can ferret out and regurgitate insightful words and concepts, but there is no sense in which it understands the depth of meaning these words and concepts carry.”

The speed, ease of use, and accessibility of this technology introduces ethical challenges for businesses, schools and universities, and individuals alike. There are intellectual property and copyright concerns that led Amazon to warn employees not to share code with ChatGPT. For academic institutions, depending on how students leverage generative AI, acceptable research and homework practices could suffer.

For more on this topic, find articles, podcasts, and off-site resources below created and curated by Carnegie Council’s network.

A Framework for the International Governance of AI

The rapid deployment of generative AI technologies highlights the importance of establishing effective governance mechanisms for ethical and legal oversight.

This concept note proposes the immediate creation of a Global AI Observatory (GAIO) supported by cooperative consultative mechanisms to identify and disseminate best practices, standards, and tools for the comprehensive international governance of AI systems.

Read the framework

Now is the Moment for a Systemic Reset of AI and Technology Governance

Wallach and Kaspersen ask the important question: How can we ensure that the technologies currently being developed are used for the common good, rather than for the benefit of a select few?

How did ChatGPT respond when asked what advances in artificial intelligence mean for the human condition?

Read the article

Are We Automating the Banality and Radicality of Evil?

In an article from Carnegie Council’s Artificial Intelligence & Equality Initiative (AIEI), Senior Fellows Anja Kaspersen and Wendell Wallach along with AIEI Board Advisor Kobi Leins argue:

“In the rush to roll out generative AI models and technologies, without sufficient guardrails or regulations, individuals are no longer seen as human beings but as datapoints, feeding a broader machine of efficiency to reduce cost and any need for human contributions. In this way, AI threatens to enable both the banality and the radicality of evil, and potentially fuels totalitarianism.”

Read the article

Generative AI Ethics Discussion Questions

  1. Is it ethical for someone to create content using generative AI without disclosing that generative AI was used?
  2. Should AI-generated content such as images, videos, and other media be subject to copyright laws? If so, who should hold the copyrights?
  3. Should generative AI be regulated to ensure it's used in an ethically permissible way? What might this kind of regulation look like?
  4. How can generative AI tools be designed to minimize biases?
  5. Should using generative AI be prohibited in certain contexts, ie. for a student completing homework, for users creating fake news or propaganda, for an entertainment company creating a deep fake image or video, etc?

More on ethics and artificial intelligence

NOV 3, 2021 Podcast

Time for an Honest Scientific Discourse on AI & Deep Learning, with Gary Marcus

In this episode of the "Artificial Intelligence & Equality Initiative" podcast, Senior Fellow Anja Kaspersen speaks with Gary Marcus to discuss the need for an open and healthy scientific discourse on AI. What we can learn from particle physics and CERN?

JUN 22, 2022 Podcast

Is AI Upending Geopolitics? with Angela Kane

In this episode of the "Artificial Intelligence & Equality Initiative" podcast, Carnegie-Uehiro Fellow Wendell Wallach is joined by Angela Kane, a chair of the United Nations University Governing Council, to discuss how AI is likely to upend geopolitics.

Carnegie Council’s Artificial Intelligence & Equality Initiative

The Artificial Intelligence & Equality Initiative seeks to build the foundation for an inclusive AI ethics dialogue and empower ethics as a tool for making thoughtful decisions about how AI is embedded into our lives.

Learn more

Additional Generative AI Resources

ChatGPT for State and Local Agencies? Not So Fast.

Carnegie Council Senior Fellow Arthur Holland Michel discusses some of the possible societal impacts of ChatGPT.


Can ChatGPT Solve Pressing Problems in Global Ethics?

"Treating ChatGPT as an objective source of knowledge, therefore, is not only wrong but reproduces inequalities in knowledge."


Ethics of Generative AI - BMJ

“Artificial intelligence (AI) and its introduction into clinical pathways presents an array of ethical issues . . .”


ChatGPT Has Thrown Gasoline on Fears of a U.S.-China Arms Race on AI

Carnegie-Uehiro Fellow Wendell Wallach discussed the implications of an "arms race on AI" between the two countries.


Risks and Ethical Considerations of Generative AI

“When training on a large corpus of text data or image data, the model naturally replicates any representative biases in its source.”