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Ethical AI is crucial to building public trust and success and to benefit society

Published: 30/01/2024

Female software engineer with projected codeArtificial intelligence is already being deployed across many industries and reshaping them, including engineering. The integration and utilisation of such advancing technologies is changing the landscape of engineering, bringing discernible benefits and challenges.

In manufacturing, engineers improve efficiency by using algorithms in production operations to streamline processes, thereby reducing costs. Transportation engineers are using algorithms to enhance the performance of self-driving cars, for example. AI is being applied in aerospace engineering to develop aircraft design and advance performance resulting in lower fuel consumption and lower emissions. Within the energy sector, AI is employed to optimise the generation and supply of electricity by identifying and evading power failures. This consequently reduces downtime, making it a reliable source of power.

Natural environmental degeneration and the climate crisis are complex global issues. As an important tool in managing the environment and combatting climate change, AI can help efforts to mitigate its impact through challenging engineers and scientists. Solutions such as reducing emissions, improving energy efficiency and the growing use of renewable energy sources can be achieved in AI’s critical role of identifying and planning to alleviate risk factors.  

The Lord Mayor of the City of London, Michael Mainelli, has said that experts building artificial intelligence in all sectors should boost public trust in the new technologies by working to shared ethical and professional standards. In collaboration with BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, he has created a new Ethical Build of AI certificate for computing professionals. The Lord Mayor has set out his Ethical AI Initiative based on the theme of ‘Connect to prosper’, a scheme which delivers ethics courses for those working in AI. To read more about this, visit the BCS website.

The Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) has published a series of reports which explores the opportunities AI presents across industries and sectors as well as economic and social benefits it brings when deployed in a human-centred, responsible and ethical way. The IET believes that as a necessity, the UK government should secure firm rules on the use of AI based on professional best practice, transparency, robustness, fairness, privacy and security to ensure safety and maintain public trust.

A white paper produced by the British Standards Institution (BSI) examines how the utilisation of AI in the built environment can positively impact society and addresses how AI has the potential to change lives and accelerate progress towards a better future and a sustainable world.

The Engineering Council has set out six principles to guide engineering professionals in integrating environmental considerations and sustainability into all aspects of their work, in our Guidance on Sustainability. Our jointly produced Statement of Ethical Principles with the Royal Academy of Engineering highlights the fundamental principles for ethical and socially responsible behaviour and decision-making.

All our Guidance is free to view and download from the Engineering Council website.



  • 2024