AI ethics

New technologies based on generative AI that can produce various types of content, including texts, videos, music, and images, appear every day. What data can they use? Who (or what) should be attributed for the work? And is it safe to share your personal experience with smart assistants? 

All this and much more is covered by AI ethics, which regulates the principles and standards of conduct to guide those involved in activities using artificial intelligence, be it developers or consumers. As noted by Daria Chirva, the head of the Thinking module and researcher at ITMO’s Research Center “Strong AI in Industry,” the ethics of AI is not about its ideas, goals, and motivations but about people and its impact on human relations. 


Philosophers are typically the ones who deal with morality issues, yet when it comes to the ethics of technology, the situation calls for cooperation between IT and philosophy.

One of the forms of such collaborations is science communication; its practitioners can bridge the gap between the scientific community and society. 

In Russia, these kinds of specialists are trained exclusively at ITMO within the Science Communication Master’s program, where they are taught to explain complex concepts clearly, work with texts and information, and visualize data. In 2023, the program launched a new educational track – IT Communications – within which students learn to generate and curate educational and communication projects, including those in the field of machine learning, under the guidance of experts from Yandex and other tech companies. 

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AI ethics can also be explored through the lens of science art. Students of the university's Art & Science Master’s program not only create art projects and explore the nuances in the art, but also master a set of IT skills, such as those specific to AI, machine learning, data processing, digital spaces, robotics, and programming. 

Yet another Conference on Education (YAC/e) 2023. Credit: Yandex /

Yet another Conference on Education (YAC/e) 2023. Credit: Yandex /

Teaching ethics in AI

Alexander Krainov, the director for development of artificial intelligence technologies at Yandex, believes that teaching core ethics is essential: 

“As a rule, specialists have to come a long way before they can lead entire services and get to deal with ethical issues; but the truth is that AI ethics isn’t something students learn at universities, even though it is a relevant issue for many large organizations like Yandex.”

Alexander Krainov. Credit: Yandex /

Alexander Krainov. Credit: Yandex /

At the same time, Daria Chirva believes that developers should be able to follow their own moral compasses when working on their products:

“A crucial but no less hard-to-acquire skill developers should have is knowing how to identify ethically contentious aspects of their work. What bothers students most is that there is no external regulatory body that would decide on ethical matters through consensus. But any outside oversight would impede the growth of technologies without encouraging developers to maintain a responsible attitude towards their work and changing lives for the better.”

Daria Chirva. Credit: Yandex /

Daria Chirva. Credit: Yandex /

To that end, countries and tech companies are setting up specialized bodies that examine the ethics of technologies (e.g., the Russian ethics commissions in AI or designated specialists at organizations). In 2021, Russia’s top companies and universities, including ITMO, signed the first code of ethics for AI in Russia.

Potential teachers of ethics

In Alexander Krainov’s opinion, students should learn ethics from philosophers or other specialists with a degree in humanities who regularly communicate with data scientists or vice versa. Daria Chirva also notes that this subject should not be relegated to a separate course. 

“I don’t want AI ethics to become a separate discipline. Ethics experts should work side by side with teachers who speak on neural networks and explain the ethical dilemmas integral to the technology that developers should take into account,” stated Daria Chirva.