Human participants in AI research: Ethics and transparency in practice

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In recent years, research involving human participants has been critical to advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), particularly in the areas of conversational, human-compatible, and cooperative AI. For example, around 12% and 6% of publications at recent AAAI and NeurIPS conferences indicate the collection of original human data, respectively. Yet AI and ML researchers lack guidelines for ethical, transparent research practices with human participants. Fewer than one out of every four of these AAAI and NeurIPS papers provide details of ethical review, the collection of informed consent, or participant compensation. This paper aims to bridge this gap by exploring normative similarities and differences between AI research and related fields that involve human participants. Though psychology, human-computer interaction, and other adjacent fields offer historic lessons and helpful insights, AI research raises several specific concernsnamely, participatory design, crowdsourced dataset development, and an expansive role of corporationsthat necessitate a contextual ethics framework. To address these concerns, this paper outlines a set of guidelines for ethical and transparent practice with human participants in AI and ML research. These guidelines can be found in Section 4 on pp. 47.

Ryan Watkins