A principles-based ethics assurance argument pattern for AI and autonomous systems

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An assurance case is a structured argument, typically produced by safety engineers, to communicate confidence that a critical or complex system, such as an aircraft, will be acceptably safe within its intended context. Assurance cases often inform third party approval of a system. One emerging proposition within the trustworthy AI and autonomous systems (AI/AS) research community is to use assurance cases to instil justified confidence that specific AI/AS will be ethically acceptable when operational in well-defined contexts. This paper substantially develops the proposition and makes it concrete. It brings together the assurance case methodology with a set of ethical principles to structure a principles-based ethics assurance argument pattern. The principles are justice, beneficence, non-maleficence, and respect for human autonomy, with the principle of transparency playing a supporting role. The argument pattern—shortened to the acronym PRAISE—is described. The objective of the proposed PRAISE argument pattern is to provide a reusable template for individual ethics assurance cases, by which engineers, developers, operators, or regulators could justify, communicate, or challenge a claim about the overall ethical acceptability of the use of a specific AI/AS in a given socio-technical context. We apply the pattern to the hypothetical use case of an autonomous ‘robo-taxi’ service in a city centre.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAI and Ethics
Early online date6 Jun 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 6 Jun 2023

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s) 2023


  • Ethics
  • Ethical Principles
  • Assurance
  • AI
  • Autonomous Systems

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