The debate on AI ethics largely focuses on technical improvements and stronger regulation to prevent accidents or misuse of AI, with solutions relying on holding individual actors accountable for responsible AI development. While useful and necessary, we argue that this "agency" approach disregards more indirect and complex risks resulting from AI's interaction with the socio-economic and political context. This paper calls for a "structural" approach to assessing AI's effects in order to understand and prevent such systemic risks where no individual can be held accountable for the broader negative impacts. This is particularly relevant for AI applied to systemic issues such as climate change and food security which require political solutions and global cooperation. To properly address the wide range of AI risks and ensure 'AI for social good', agency-focused policies must be complemented by policies informed by a structural approach.
Speakers: Agnes Schim van der Loeff