How do ethical arguments affect AI adoption in business? We randomly expose business decision-makers to arguments used in AI fairness activism. Arguments emphasizing the inescapability of algorithmic bias lead managers to abandon AI for manual review by humans and report greater expectations about lawsuits and negative PR. These effects persist even when AI lowers gender and racial disparities, and when engineering investments to address AI fairness are feasible. Emphasis on status quo comparisons yields opposite effects. We also measure the effects of "scientific veneer" in AI ethics arguments. Scientific veneer changes managerial behavior, but does not asymmetrically benefit favorable (vs critical) AI activism.
Cowgill, Bo, F. Dell'Acqua, and Sandra Matz. "The Managerial Effects of Algorithmic Fairness Activism." American Economic Association Papers and Proceedings (forthcoming).
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