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Future of Life Institute Podcast
82 min2020 NOV 18
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Mohamed Abdalla on Big Tech, Ethics-washing, and the Threat on Academic Integrity


Mohamed Abdalla, PhD student at the University of Toronto, joins us to discuss how Big Tobacco and Big Tech work to manipulate public opinion and academic institutions in order to maximize profits and avoid regulation. Topics discussed in this episode include: -How Big Tobacco uses it's wealth to obfuscate the harm of tobacco and appear socially responsible -The tactics shared by Big Tech and Big Tobacco to preform ethics-washing and avoid regulation -How Big Tech and Big Tobacco work to influence universities, scientists, researchers, and policy makers -How to combat the problem of ethics-washing in Big Tech You can find the page for this podcast here: https://futureoflife.org/2020/11/17/mohamed-abdalla-on-big-tech-ethics-washing-and-the-threat-on-academic-integrity/ The Future of Life Institute AI policy page: https://futureoflife.org/AI-policy/ Timestamps: 0:00 Intro 1:55 How Big Tech actively distorts the academic landscape and what counts as big tech 6:00 How Big Tobacco has shaped industry research 12:17 The four tactics of Big Tobacco and Big Tech 13:34 Big Tech and Big Tobacco working to appear socially responsible 22:15 Big Tech and Big Tobacco working to influence the decisions made by funded universities 32:25 Big Tech and Big Tobacco working to influence research questions and the plans of individual scientists 51:53 Big Tech and Big Tobacco finding skeptics and critics of them and funding them to give the impression of social responsibility 1:00:24 Big Tech and being authentically socially responsible 1:11:41 Transformative AI, social responsibility, and the race to powerful AI systems 1:16:56 Ethics-washing as systemic 1:17:30 Action items for solving Ethics-washing 1:19:42 Has Mohamed received criticism for this paper? 1:20:07 Final thoughts from Mohamed This podcast is possible because of the support of listeners like you. If you found this conversation to be meaningful or valuable, consider supporting it directly by donating at futureoflife.org/donate. Contributions like yours make these conversations possible.