Good Systems team hosts fireside chat to celebrate launch

Neha Madhira

UT hosted a fireside chat Monday with former director of the Harvard-MIT Ethics and Governance of AI Initiative to promote their new Good Systems initiative, which focuses on improving aritifical intelligence technologies.

The conversation with Tim Hwang covered his background in artificial intelligence research at Google and other companies and the importance of ethics when creating AI.

Good Systems was initially announced in September during the State of the University Address as an initiative to evaluate the future of AI technologies and mitigate possible harms they could cause, according to the program’s website. 

Ken Fleischmann, Good Systems inaugural chair, said the program exemplifies convergence research that brings experts in different fields together to solve complex social issues.

“It is not just multidisciplinary, but it’s saying that these are really thorny issues we’re trying to grapple with,” said Fleischmann, School of Information professor.


Fleischmann said the goals for 2019 to 2023 are to define Good Systems and develop it.

“From 2023 to 2027, we will focus on implementation in terms of the tech sector, governance and the preeminence of UT in both education and research related to Good Systems,” Fleischmann said.

Hwang said the initiative seems like an exciting interdisciplinary effort to bring various parts of the University together to work on big problems.

“These types of chats are useful because I think there is a kind of chance to ask questions that lots of people could hear,” Hwang said. “I think that ability to give something concrete for people to respond to is how I saw my role in this event.”

Robert San Soucie, computer science and Plan II junior, said he is passionate about designing ethical AI and attended the chat to learn more about Good Systems.

“I feel like people design software not really thinking about the impacts of what they are making,” Soucie said. “As computer scientists, we need to be thinking about that a lot more.”

Hwang said Good Systems is also about making sure UT students are aware of the ethical implications of their work.

“For me, ethics is not just about not doing the wrong thing but about doing the right thing,” Hwang said. “Ethics is about empowering people, so it’s critical that we design AI in ways that empower people and build a more equitable and just society.”