IDC has predicted that by 2024, artificial intelligence (AI) will be integral to every part of the business. There’s no doubt it is already having an impact in the workplace. From simplifying and improving operations to fueling heightened levels of automation, intelligence and insight, AI is transforming today’s business systems and decision-making processes.
But as AI adoption has accelerated, ethical concerns surrounding the way it is leveraged across an organization are also rising. At the highest level, AI should play the role of an augmented intelligence tool that provides humans with predictive support and advises the decision-making process — and do so in a manner that provides full justification. In short, AI should never be relied upon for making important decisions without human input involved in the process.
This sounds easy, right? Not exactly…
The reality is that we are still in a period of “AI infancy.” Because of this, how we create AI frameworks and algorithms today lays the foundation (for better or worse) for how we approach digital ethics going forward.
Whether this discussion is in the context of AI, or the next game-changing innovation with a similar capacity for widespread cultural impact, human beings will always need to be at the heart of how digital innovation is developed and implemented. If not, compromises in ethical integrity will become an increasing risk and reality.
To Be Ethical, AI Must First Be Transparent
Transparency in AI is “responsible AI” that has been thoroughly tested and is used in a manner where results and decisions can be explained to customers, employees and other stakeholders. And perhaps more importantly, it has all the ethical considerations in place.
For many use cases, the “black box AI” approach (where there’s little to no human oversight) is unsuitable. For example, anything that involves the well-being of a person (i.e., the decision about which drug to prescribe to a patient) should not be made in a black box environment. There needs to be justification for any decision based on a set of predetermined, ethically centered criteria or guidelines. When transparency and ethics are your north star, you gain clarity. And without them, there is little or no insight into bias (intentional or otherwise), errors or just bad decisions.
In the best-case scenario, AI should be used as an augmented intelligence tool that provides humans with predictive support, which advises the decision-making process in a manner that also provides full justification (where necessary) to make faster and better-informed decisions.
Implementing Transparency and Integrity into AI Today
Below are the most common areas for AI use in enterprises today. It is in these core areas that organizations should continuously apply an ethical AI lens to ensure integrity in how the technology is leveraged:
● Classifying and organizing information: AI is ushering in the new era of content management and delivery. It is not only auto-classifying content and data to help users find information faster, but through the application of machine learning that continuously adapts to user behaviors and work functions, AI is also driving a more predictive, proactive and creative way to use and deliver content.
● Automating processes and workflows: Some form of "duty of explanation" must be employed when leveraging AI to automate even the most simple of processes. Those who use AI must consider the purpose, objective and decision-making criteria for AI-based algorithms. In other words, organizations must be able to defend the logic behind the AI algorithms used to automate processes and workflows. This will increase AI transparency, traceability, responsibility and validity.
● Ensuring security and governance: The development of AI must go hand in hand with robust digital security measures. AI-powered platforms and systems must work securely and have explicit logic models that respect the privacy and security of users.
For those implementing AI-powered platforms and solutions in their organizations, it’s vital to promote the use of this technology as not only beneficial to business and the economy, but when leveraged in an ethical manner — to humanity and the global environment as well. This serves to establish a mindset and culture for transparency and ethics as enterprise AI use expands.