Ethical AI: Why responsibility and transparency matter
While leveraging AI can help deliver growth and productivity benefits, it’s also responsible to recognize and try to minimize the potentially disruptive aspects and risks of the technology. Ethical considerations like privacy, security and compliance in the use of AI tech all need to be thought through.
This is where the concept of ethical AI comes in. Making sure AI is developed and used in a fair, transparent and accountable way will go a long way to building trust and sustainability with the use of AI tech.
Implementing ethical AI is not necessarily straightforward. It’s important to first consider all the risks implementing AI into your business might bring, for example, bias and discrimination, and work towards mitigating them. Because AI tools are based on human input, they can be susceptible to the same biases that exist in our societies, such as stereotypical representations of women or racial biases. Avoiding these biases requires a proactive approach, like developing ethical guidelines and frameworks for using AI and being transparent about the processes where AI is used. Monitoring and auditing AI systems will help ensure they’re used in a more ethical way, and help with another consideration, compliance.
When it comes to compliance, the EU is currently in the process of developing its first major piece of legislation on the use of AI, the EU AI Act, to classify the risks of AI based on different applications where it’s used. With international and national governments looking more closely at the potential impacts of AI, it’s prudent to think about what responsibilities and legal requirements your business may have to meet.
Security and privacy are also vital considerations. Because AI models rely heavily on an input of data, it is important to have a framework to set out the kind of information colleagues are free to input into AI tools, and what should be kept away. This is a particular concern when using third-party AI tools, where your business may not have control over where any information fed into the tool is stored and accessed. Without strict controls, proprietary data or customer information could be part of a data breach. Rigorous data protection protocols and educating colleagues who handle sensitive information on these risks can help you avoid any pitfalls.
Constructing an ethical AI framework for your business will put you in the best position to avoid the pitfalls that future regulation of the technology might bring. The EU AI Act is seeking to ensure AI systems are “safe, transparent, traceable, non-discriminatory and environmentally friendly”, so taking these aspects into consideration will help avoid compliance pitfalls - and we’ll take a more in-depth look at compliance in a separate section below.
Beyond compliance and transparency, handling AI in an ethical way can help companies attract clients and colleagues who value ethical practices and build a positive reputation in the market. That’s not to mention the benefit of avoiding legal and financial consequences that unethical use of AI might present.