Logo Header Menu

Does your company have an AI ethics dilemma?

The ethics of Artificial Intelligence has been in the news -- particularly with the creation and almost immediate collapse of Google’s AI Ethics board. But do companies that are new to AI tools need to be asking themselves: 'Do I have to 'care' about ethics?' asks Alexa Hagerty and Igor Rubinov.  Does your company have an AI ethics dilemma? image

While added agility, capacity, and capabilities are welcome additions to any enterprise, blind adoption of AI technologies can come with unintended and unforeseen consequences. Most businesses may not be creating AI, but they may be starting to use a set of tools and processes that fall under the concept (through AWS, Google Cloud, Azure, and others). Companies that are new to these AI tools may be asking themselves: Do I have to “care” about AI ethics? In short, the answer is yes.

As AI tools interface with the real world, different organisational structures and business processes can create a variety of challenges. No company that uses AI systems will be exempt from the moral ramifications of their deployment. Luckily, there are steps businesses can take.

The balancing act of data mining ethics: the challenges of ethical data mining

Data handling ethics are a legal, political, and financial minefield. The balancing act between transparent and unethical data mining practices is providing a consistent challenge for modern enterprises

As social scientists working on issues of ethical technology, we recommend that all companies, whether creators or adopters, commit to a serious and sustained engagement in order to understand the ethical implications and social impacts of AI. We’ve already seen that ‘off the shelf’ AI can be used in problematic ways (as the infamous Wang, Kosinski study of sexual orientation illustrates), so ‘only’ being an adopter does not excuse anyone from engaging with its ethical implications.

Here are five ways to address AI ethics in an organisation.

  1. Develop Ethics Principles: Most companies have a mission that may not be clearly operationalised. However, it is imperative for every company to align their work to their mission by establishing parameters to assure that AI tools will be used beneficially and in line with their values. These principles need to be clearly laid out and deployed across the organisation. This engagement must be rigorous, ongoing, and involve a range of stakeholders. A few informal conversations or a single meeting are not enough to tackle the complex issues that AI-driven technologies present.
  2. Talk with an AI Ethics Consultant. Consulting a specialist well-versed in AI ethics is critically important to help a company see beyond current engagements to provide industry-wide or global perspectives. By taking a deep dive on the actual uses of the technology, businesses can anticipate upcoming challenges and forecast ways to avoid future pitfalls. An AI Ethics Consultant can provide targeted, strategic guidance to make sense of an AI toolkit and how to account for its ethical implications.
  3. Provide Ethics Trainings. Training employees in AI ethics is immensely valuable. While this process can build on the ethics principles outlined above, trainings may also involve creating new tools, modules, and educational systems to help members throughout the company become equipped to recognize and respond to ethical challenges. Online courses from edX and Coursera explore how to apply ethical and legal frameworks to data initiatives along with practical approaches to analytics problems posed by AI. Enterprise-ready ethics trainings are a valuable resource for deploying current insights across an organisation.
  4. Discuss the Ethical OS toolkit. A valuable toolkit for thinking about ethical issues has been developed by the Institute for the Future, with support from the Omidyar Network. The Ethical Operating System (Ethical OS) is a practical framework targeting tech makers, such as engineers and product managers, to anticipate the impact of AI technologies. Even if an organisation is not a tech firm creating AI tools, this straightforward framework can help kick start the conversation. Apart from helping to assess risk zones of potential social harm and playing out scenarios to assess the long-term impacts of the technology, the Ethical OS toolkit can help generate future-proofing strategies that allow a company to take ethical action now.
  5. Hire an Ethics Director. One of the more robust steps a company can take is to allocate direct staff time and resources to tackling AI ethics (as Salesforce, 23andMe, Uber and other technology companies have done). Depending on the AI footprint, a business may seek to hire a director or specialist who manages this work full-time. Alternatively, existing employees can work on this challenge and help assure that ethics principles and trainings are deeply integrated into the work of the company at all levels.

AI ethics: Time to move beyond a list of principles

AI ethics must move beyond lists of ‘principles’ says new report from the Nuffield Foundation and Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence

Time to take action

While researchers are only beginning to understand the implications of AI, resources are emerging to help companies be proactive and resolve dilemmas before they make a negative impact. The five steps above are a great place to start thinking about the ethical implications of AI.

As AI systems continue to grow in importance and capacity, the impact on our workplaces, communities, and societies will only become more pronounced. These strategies can help establish a robust AI ethics strategy to anticipate future risks and challenges. AI ethics are not going away. Companies need to be prepared.

Alexa Hagerty and Igor Rubinov are co-founders of Dovetail Labs, an independent consulting firm that brings the critical insights of social science to the development and implementation of emerging technologies.

 For more on ethical AI

Latest news

divider
Releases & Updates
The leading customer onboarding and resource management platform on Salesforce

The leading customer onboarding and resource management platform on Salesforce

11 November 2019 / Precursive and Taskfeed have merged to become the leading customer onboarding and resource management platform [...]

divider
People Moves
Shutterstock appoints Peter Silvio as new CTO

Shutterstock appoints Peter Silvio as new CTO

11 November 2019 / Shutterstock, Inc. has today announced the appointment of Peter Silvio as its new chief technology [...]

divider
Retail
The UK retail CIO and CTO must invest in tech to match the online experience

The UK retail CIO and CTO must invest in tech to match the online experience

11 November 2019 / The online experience is seamless and the physical store must match this if the ‘high [...]

divider
Automation
Tech Leaders Summit: How to start your RPA and AI journey

Tech Leaders Summit: How to start your RPA and AI journey

11 November 2019 / During a lively panel discussion at Tech Leaders Summit, business leaders, who’ve embarked on RPA [...]

divider
Energy
Origami Energy appoints Ocado’s CTO Paul Clarke to its advisory board

Origami Energy appoints Ocado’s CTO Paul Clarke to its advisory board

11 November 2019 / Origami, a leading technology provider to the energy industry, is expanding its advisory board team [...]

divider
Blockchain
Demystifying blockchain and identifying use cases

Demystifying blockchain and identifying use cases

8 November 2019 / The 10th anniversary of bitcoin earlier this year rightly prompted a lot of soul-searching amongst [...]

divider
Immersive Technology
Audience immersion and the 5G opportunity

Audience immersion and the 5G opportunity

7 November 2019 / Excitement about 5G’s potential has reached fever pitch. It’s been touted as a game-changer for [...]

divider
Major Contracts
Cloudbees partners with VMware and Atos to harness power of DevOps

Cloudbees partners with VMware and Atos to harness power of DevOps

7 November 2019 / CloudBees has today announced a partnership with Atos and VMware that aims help customers adopt [...]

divider
Releases & Updates
Canonical partners with NVIDIA to accelerate enterprise AI adoption

Canonical partners with NVIDIA to accelerate enterprise AI adoption

7 November 2019 / Canonical and NVIDIA say they have formed the new alliance in response to the challenge [...]

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!

Pin It on Pinterest