AI is not Neutral! Ethical Concerns of Coupling AI with HPC: BoF at SC22

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SC22, Dallas, Texas, US.


HPC is increasingly employed in AI. Although HPC itself is natively ethically neutral, its use to enable AI applications that can have harmful impacts on humans and society and can render HPC collusive and ethically liable. This BoF will consider the ethical implication of coupling of AI and HPC and the formation of guidelines for the HPC community to ensure that researchers consider potentially harmful consequences of their research and adhere to best practices for sustainable and ethical use of HPC resources.

The coupling between HPC and AI is intensifying. HPC researchers are improving the performance of AI applications, e.g., GPT-3 and large-scale recommendation models. At the same time, AI is incorporated into HPC-based simulations used for policy support whose traditional claims to reliability, involving validation, verification, and uncertainty quantification, and whose traditional standards of reproducibility and traceability may not extend readily to AI-assisted simulations. Crossing HPC and AI brings into HPC new questions of ethics and trustworthiness concerning, for example, fundamental human rights, fairness, privacy, sustainability, robustness, safety, and security. The AI community has been grappling intensively with such issues. It is incumbent on the HPC community now to do the same.

While HPC and AI have some ethical risks in common, such as the dual use of computational pharmacology to save lives or create bio-weapons, AI brings data containing biases, lack of explainability, and sometimes insurmountable obstacles to reproducibility into the picture. The lack of reproducibility is exacerbated by the massive amounts of energy consumed in AI training, which few can afford, and which, arguably, is an unethical addition to the world’s carbon footprint. According to the EU’s high-level expert group (, an AI application needs to respect fundamental human rights/autonomy, prevent harm, be fair, and be explicable to be trustworthy. Coupling AI with HPC creates the need to be mindful of these principles. Through this BOF, we aim to find out what the HPC community thinks about the ethical aspects of coupling HPC with AI. 


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