The Challenge of Value Alignment: From Fairer Algorithms to AI Safety


I Gabriel, V Ghazavi

publication date



The Oxford Handbook of Digital Ethics (ed) Carissa Veliz (OUP, 2022)


This paper addresses the question of how to align AI systems with human values and situates it within a wider body of thought regarding technology and value. Far from existing in a vacuum, there has long been an interest in the ability of technology to ‘lock-in’ different value systems.

There has also been considerable thought about how to align technologies with specific social values, including through participatory design-processes. In this paper we look more closely at the question of AI value alignment and suggest that the power and autonomy of AI systems gives rise to opportunities and challenges in the domain of value that have not been encountered before.

Drawing important continuities between the work of the fairness, accountability, transparency and ethics community, and work being done by technical AI safety researchers, we suggest that more attention needs to be paid to the question of ‘social value alignment’ – that is, how to align AI systems with the plurality of values endorsed by groups of people, especially on the global level.

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