Ori Freiman, Ph.D.

AI Policy & Ethics | Trust in Technology | Technology Governance & Strategy

I research at the forefront of technological innovation. This website documents some of my academic activities.

My formal background is in Analytic Philosophy, Library and Information Science, and Science & Technology Studies. Until September 22', I was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Ethics of AI Lab, at the University of Toronto's Centre for Ethics. Before joining the Centre, I submitted my dissertation, about trust in technology, to The Graduate Program in Science, Technology and Society at Bar-Ilan University.

News


  • Upcoming event: Excited to chair the Cryptocurrencies and CBDC panel at The City University of New York's Transatlantic Blockchain Law (October 3, 2022).

  • Upcoming event: I'm thrilled to share the Canadian Science Policy Centre's panel on AI and Big Data's Impact on Justice, Human Rights and Privacy with people who shaped my views (September 28, 2022).


September 2022:

  • Published a short analysis titled Liability, Privacy, and an Arrested Developer: The Ongoing Case of Tornado Cash. In it, I discuss issues that regard: (a) sanctioning technology, rather than a legal entity; (b) liability of developers in open source projects; (c) preserving privacy by protecting anonymity; (d) the complex tension between regulations, financial privacy, and democracy. It was published in DataEthics.eu - a not-for-profit, politically independent, ThinkDoTank that promotes responsible and ethical use of personal data.

  • I am honoured and humbled that Tech & Law Israel invited me to speak with them about AI, liability, and the future of the legal system [a link to the original Hebrew interview, and a link for an automatic translation].

  • A guest in a colleague's class about algorithms & liability, commentating on recent Tornado Cash events.

  • Joined the Privacy Research Group at New York University's Information Law Institute.


August 2022:

  • My Fellowship at U of T ended. During the fellowship, I focused on two lines of research: (1) identifying how AI shifts power by dealing with questions that regard technology governance, policy-making, and ethics-washing; (2) the ongoing development of central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) by exploring how different technical choices and monetary functions can result in various social consequences. Can't wait to see what comes next!

  • AI products cannot be moral agents. But people, corporations and governments can and should be was published on The Toronto Star. (Together with Nizan Geslevich Packin)

  • A research group I participate in - 'Healthy Online Conversations' - presented in the 'Conversations Online' workshop. We shared some of our experience as consultants for a leading company that designs a social engagement platform. The outcome of this workshop will be an edited book on the topic, and we are authoring a chapter.

  • Central Bank Digital Currencies could mean the End of Democracy was published on The Conversation and The National Post. I argue that central banks worldwide are racing to implement digital legal tenders. While they prepare for the day when the economic and technological benefits outweigh the risks, democratic considerations are hardly discussed in public - and this has got to change. (Originally titled 'Democracy is Beyond the Mandate of Central Banks')


July 2022:

  • Collaborated with Nizan Geslevich Packin to publish an op-ed in the Israeli financial newspaper - Calcalist, about The Rights of Algorithms and Assigning Liability to Software Corporations, a moment before the Israeli National Artificial Intelligence Program, led by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Technology, is launched [Hebrew].


June 2022:

Following the publication of numerous ethical principles and guidelines, the concept of 'Trustworthy AI' has become widely used. However, several trust scholars and AI ethicists argue against using this concept. It has been labelled as a "misnomer", "conceptual misunderstanding", and "conceptual nonsense". Instead, they often suggest shifting our paradigm from 'Trustworthy AI' to 'Reliable AI'. I explain exactly why and review existing criticisms about using the concept of 'Trustworthy AI'. Ultimately, ignoring the criticisms will likely lead to mistrusting non-moral agents. By doing so, AI designers, regulators, investors, and other stakeholders risk attributing responsibilities to agents who cannot be held responsible, and consequently, deteriorate social structures which regard accountability and liability. I argue that, realistically, the concept of 'Trustworthy AI' has already been widely adopted by the AI community - industry, civil society, policymakers, and academic researchers. Therefore, it is not likely that the paradigm will be shifted. If we wish to be practical, we should adopt a view of the field of AI Ethics as focusing on power, social justice, and scholarly activism. I suggest that community-driven and social justice-oriented ethicists of AI and trust scholars draw attention to critical social aspects highlighted by phenomena of distrust and focus on democratic aspects of trust formation. This way, it will be possible to further reveal shifts in power relations, challenge unfair status quos, and suggest meaningful ways to keep the interests of citizens in the era of the conceptual nonsense 'Trustworthy AI'.

May 2022:


April 2022:


March 2022:

  • Judge for the Moral Code Hackathon (organized by The University of Toronto's chapter of Engineers Without Borders).


February 2022:


January 2022:

I present what central bank digital currency (CBDC) is and how this new currency is different from the digital digits we see in credit card statements and bank accounts. First, I discuss the significant benefits of implementing CBDC and share some of the open technical decisions that designers of the system face. Afterwards, I focus on its development and implementation motivations - innovation from the fintech sector, and risk and competition from decentralized cryptocurrencies, centralized stablecoins, and currencies of other nations. Finally, I identify six categories of ethical concerns related to CBDC. My main argument is that using data from such a system leaves the door open for authorities to influence social norms through surveilling and controlling financial activities. Therefore, even in liberal democracies, giving up on financial privacy - the ability to trade without any third party involved - not only leads to the loss of anonymity but also to a constant risk of losing freedom.


December 2021:


November 2021:

  • Presented my working paper Ethical and Epistemological Roles of AI in Collective Epistemology at the Ethics of Technology Early-Career Group.


October 2021:


September 2021:

  • Launched this website.

  • Began my post-doctoral fellowship in the Ethics of AI Lab at the University of Toronto's Centre for Ethics.