How Corporate C-Levels Can Be the Guardians of Ethical AI

With all the talk surrounding AI and what it is capable of doing, we have finally stepped into the era of Artificial Intelligence. While many argue that we have yet to realize the true potential of AI, I for one, believe that we have come a long way and can now see AI in full implementation across the globe. 

With AI almost everywhere in organizational processes, the question now arises over the ethical use of AI. Is AI being used responsibly and ethically by organizations across the world? 

The ethical use of AI will set the tone for how we use and consider AI down the line. Establishing the best ethical AI practices has become a must now, and organizations realize what is at stake. The risks of using AI irresponsibly include the damage to a brand’s rapport and the legal complications that follow. Hence, ethical AI use will not just ensure a good reputation, but will also keep you on the right side of the law. 

A research study by Gartner has predicted that almost 75 percent of all significant organizations across the globe will be hiring AI experts to manage brand and reputation risk by 2023. This will be done to ensure that they stay on the right side of the law at all times with their AI usage. 

C-level executives, including CTO and the CEO, will play an essential role in determining the way a company uses its AI campaign. One litmus test CEOs can run to determine the ethics in their AI usage is to find out whether they would feel comfortable if the way they use AI would be made open for everyone to see.

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Causes and Drivers of Irresponsible AI Usage 

The world isn’t new to the trend of AI failure. We have numerous instances where AI mechanisms have failed humans and have failed to deliver the desired results. 

Very recently, Amazon found out that the AI system they had deployed for recruitment was showing an inherent bias toward all female candidates. The system worked very much like the star rating for Amazon products and gave candidates points out of 5. Candidates with the best stars were considered for a job in the company. However, people associated with the system found out that it showed bias toward all female candidates. 

In 2018, traffic police using AI to track jaywalkers in major Chinese cities made a massive blunder. As part of their tracking campaign, the police embarrassed themselves by identifying the face of Chinese billionaire Dong Mingzhu as a jaywalker. The face was identified on a bus that had Dong’s poster as part of a marketing campaign. The traffic police department for the city was ridiculed online for making such a massive blunder. 

Some of the areas where AI-related biases are seen are the credit scoring department, inaccurate medical diagnoses, recruitment, and judicial sentencing. AI biases can impede the fair process of certain business areas, leading to significant legal implications down the line. 

C-level executives need to take this failure to heart and update their processes to limit AI bias. They should do their best to avoid going down the same trap again with their AI processes. The technology and intelligence behind AI should be used for bettering the world, and not for biases or discrimination of any sort. 

AI biases are often the result of mishandled data or poor people management. The lack of diversity when hiring and assembling your AI team can come and haunt you in the long run. Additionally, all errors made during data collection processes or training programs can have negative repercussions on AI and its implementation. 

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Consequences of AI Misuse 

AI misuse can have multiple repercussions. For beginners, any misuse of artificial intelligence can lead to privacy violations, including a threat to consumer data. Businesses or organizations working on customer data need to be extra careful while handling such data because any mishap can harm their reputation in the long run. 

Other mishaps include: 

Loss of Trust 

An organization’s reputation is its biggest asset, next to the cash they have in the bank. Many businesses regard goodwill as an asset, and they use it to sell their products and/or services. However, this reputation can suffer through an AI blunder. Most customers stay up-to-date with the latest happenings in the business world, and they are quick to leave organizations that are found to be part of AI scams, intentionally or unintentionally. 

Negative Impact on Revenue Streams 

What does the loss of trust or reputation lead to? A dip in your revenue streams. Customers may not go and shop from brands that have shown disinterest toward their AI systems. The recent wave of data scams across social media and organizations means that customers realize the importance of their data and don’t take scams of such nature lightly. Hence, if your AI system has a bias or an irregularity in it, customers will be quick to note it and take evasive action, if required. 

Legal Implications 

As we have briefly mentioned above, AI misuse can lead to legal implications, as well. With regulations such as the GDPR in place, organizations have to be extremely careful with how they use their AI mechanism. Any loss or misuse of customer data can land them in a deep mess on the legal front, as well. Your compliance or legal framework should be aware of AI and data regulations and should guide you accordingly. 

Setting Up an Ethical Framework

The whole C-suite, including the stakeholders and managers, should be involved in the process for setting up an ethical framework. It is necessary that you mark ethics as an important part of your AI strategy, and treat the two as the same. Your AI strategies for ethics should revolve around having diversity in your team with a skilled workforce and transparency in your data usage. You should easily be able to tell the world about your use of AI in the organization. 

Secondly, you must test all training models before implementation to identify all potential biases in them. Your training models need to be tested and regulated before widespread implementation across the organization so that biases are limited and irregularities are made scarce. 

Data and AI governance can significantly help set the tone for your AI campaign, as it will ensure proper data collection and storage. Your data will be perfect for you to work on. 

Finally, risk management in the form of compliance should be a must. The recent wave of regulations concerning this matter has meant that the greater legal threat should be handled in the best manner possible. The entire company should own up to the compliance process, not just the IT department. Make sure you have customer consent before you acquire data from them. Infuse proper AI usage with the values of your company to make a strong bond between the two. 

Conclusion

C-level executives must take over the reins of fair AI usage in their organizations. It is a must that C-level executives act as guardians for fair AI usage and set the tone for ethical AI usage across the organization. 

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About the Author

Ronald Van LoonRonald Van Loon

Ronald is named one of the 3 most influential people in Big Data by Onalytica. He is also an author for a number of leading big data & data science websites, including Datafloq, Data Science Central, and The Guardian, and he regularly speaks at renowned events.

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