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20 There can be few more ambitious goals than ensuring the safe integration of AI and autonomous systems into society. In essence, that is the mission statement of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy (IAA) and, by extension, of its co-director Dr Cara LaPointe. A marine engineer, diver and former naval officer, LaPointe likes to define that as creating trustworthy technology and building trust. “We are operating at the intersection of technology and humanity,” she says. “These systems will never be used if people don’t trust them.” With a background in engineering, science and the arts, LaPointe says it is vital to combine technical knowledge with an appreciation for the humanities across different cultures if developers are to understand what people need from technology. She illustrates the importance of that with an experience she had in her early 20s as a student on the island of Yadua, Fiji, where she studied the impact of a novel technology on the indigenous culture. “In that case, the novel technology was a motorboat that gave people on the remote island easy access to the main islands, so the subsistence economy was transitioning to a cash economy, and that was disrupting the traditional common property resource management regimes and governance structures,” she recalls. In creating assurance, it is critical to create AI and autonomous systems that people from diverse backgrounds will trust. “What it will take for me to trust them is different from what it will take for you to trust them, and completely different from what it will take for the people of Yadua to trust them,” she says. “There are a lot of complex social science issues embedded in this, which is why The co-director of the Johns Hopkins Institute for Assured Autonomy tells Peter Donaldson about how to gain society’s trust in AI and uncrewed systems A question of trust August/September 2023 | Uncrewed Systems Technology The US Navy’s Sea Hunter ASV arrives at Pearl Harbour. LaPointe’s navy jobs included shaping policy on the introduction of autonomy to the fleet. (Photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aiko Bongolan)