The Moral Compass for Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Using AI responsibly is an element of the moral compass of an organization

What will be the role of artificial intelligence in business? That question and many others regarding the global business climate was explored last year by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC)’s 22nd Annual Global CEO Survey of 1,378 chief executives in more than 90 territories.

The bottom line, 85% of CEOs agree that artificial intelligence will significantly change the way they do business in the next five years; two-thirds of global CEOs see it as more prominent than the internet. North America, in general, is more skeptical, with 35% of CEOs ‘disagreeing' or ‘strongly disagreeing' that AI will have a more substantial impact than the internet revolution. Still, the overall sentiment is that AI will be a catalyst for transformation across regions.

Across the globe, one in ten CEO's has implemented AI on a full scale. Some of the reasons for the stalling include the skills gap, readiness of the workforce to use AI-based systems, and the need to recognize and practice proper data management and self-protection. Many leaders feel they are drowning with different alternatives, solutions, and pressures. Many feel it is so overwhelming that they take a position of wait and see for their competitors, or where the storm carries them.

The deployment of AI requires a careful process to avoid the unintended consequences of no proper management. You may have heard some cases where companies have uncovered troubling situations where AI algorithms delivered biased results, for instance, facial and voice recognition systems. Programs are written by humans who could incorporate their own biases in the process. AI also uses data collected for long periods, which could favor some demographics and skills.

John Giannandrea, who leads AI at Google, is worried about intelligent systems learning human prejudices as he told MIT Technology Review back in 2017. “The problem of bias in machine learning is likely to become more significant as the technology spreads to critical areas like medicine and law, and as more people without a deep technical understanding tasked with deploying it. Some experts warn that algorithmic bias is already pervasive in many industries and that almost no one is making an effort to identify or correct it.”

What is Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is the use of computer science programming to imitate human thought and action by analyzing data and surroundings, solving or anticipating problems and learning, or self-teaching to adapt to a variety of tasks. Of all the industry 4.0 technologies, AI is considered the solution with the highest potential for business.

A survey from the McKinsey Global Institute showed that AI adoption outside the technology sector is still at an early stage. Only 20% of 3,000 executives said they currently use AI in a core part of their businesses. Many companies are still uncertain about the business case or return on investment.

AI has been around since antiquity, and it is becoming much more ubiquitous without us realizing it. Think about these situations which we are all familiar with, and they are AI-based:

  • Smartphones, they can track your location, how far you walk, what restaurants you were at, what you ordered on Amazon

  • ·Ride-sharing service Uber uses AI to determine how long it will take to get from your location to your destination and lets you know when to expect a driver or food delivery

  • · Smartwatches track the route you walk, measure your heart rate

  • · Smart speakers like the Amazon Echo or Google Assistant – they can be scheduled to play the music you like, keep tabs of your to-do list, tell you the weather and some jokes if you'd like

  • · Search Engines, when you "google" something and then you go to Facebook, it shows you the products you were searching in google and things related (or not) to it. When you purchase in Amazon, it shows you a list of "other products you may like." And you ask yourself, how does it do that? Well, that is AI

  • · AI is used to help match candidates to jobs with the hopes of creating better employee-employer matches.

  • · When apps like Google Maps calculate traffic and construction to find the quickest route to your destination, that's AI at work

Autonomous vehicles (AV) do use AI, and among other reasons, it will take more years for AVs to get to full autonomy.

According to Automation Alley’s 2019 Technology In Industry Report, "the incorporation of AI into manufacturing operations can lead to significant savings of labor costs associated with troubleshooting, maintenance, and repair. The improved time between failure. Safer work environments as AI can sense and self-react to dangerous situations and the creation of new jobs as AI manages routine tasks. More prediction and monitoring of trends such as anomaly detection.”

Ubiquitous computing applications are everywhere; companies and products are collecting more and more data on us. In today's rightfully data security-conscious society, this reality is of utmost concern and worry.

McKinsey's article, Leading your Organization to responsible AI, shows, “The best solution is almost certainly not to avoid the use of AI altogether—the value at stake can be too significant, and there are advantages to being early to the AI game. Organizations can instead ensure the responsible building and application of AI by taking care to confirm that AI outputs are fair, that new levels of personalization do not translate into discrimination, that data acquisition and use do not occur at the expense of consumer privacy, and that their organizations balance system performance with transparency into how AI systems make their predictions.”

CEOs and leaders need to have a working knowledge of AI development to ensure the right questions get asked to prevent potential ethical issues. McKinsey recommends guidance in three areas:

1. Clarify how values translate into the selection of AI applications.

2. Definitions and metrics used to evaluate AI for bias and fairness.

3. Advise on the hierarchy of company values.

Using AI responsibly is an element of the moral compass of an organization and its leaders and the foundation for building trust with employees, customers, shareholders, and society. It will also be an element that impacts brand reputation.

I dedicate my services to engage as a collaborative partner to help leaders and organizations figure out how to be successful in the process of digital transformation. Moreover, navigate through an unprecedented amount of complexity and speed of change of industry 4.0 technologies.

I assist by assessing and facilitating the readiness of the leaders who will define the course of the transformation and the workforce who are the ones to adopt the technologies so that the benefits get realized.

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