Artificial Intelligence is one of the main branches of the Fourth Industrial Revolution – the current one our society is going through right now. And, as we have mentioned before, this Revolution focuses on digitalization.
We are seeing an increase on the use of computers, phones and other technological devices that overall facilitate our means of communicating with one another. There is also a smaller gap in between our physical world and the virtual world.
Not only that, but we also perform daily, small tasks much quicker and with more confidence as well – ordering groceries or performing bank transactions can now be done online by means of using an electronic device.
But another important aspect of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is artificial intelligence. In our Digital Transformation era, automation focuses on performing simple and repetitive tasks for our own convenience. AI however, is built for more complex duties – for instance, it reacts to organizational data, it spots patterns and errors, and it learns with it all.
The controversy behind Artificial Intelligence
For decades, AI has sparked debates and creativity about what direction it is going in its evolution. The controversy is focused on the amount of work and functions robots will automate for us, being even capable of taking over human jobs.
In fact, according to website Tidio, 69% of graduates are scared AI might take them out of the job market. That ties up with 25% of people who believe customer service and warehouse professionals are next in line after cashiers, drivers and translators as the professions that will most likely be commanded by artificial intelligence.
The ethics committee
On the other hand, there are those who believe AI can bring positive advancements for us as a society – it means evolution.
With such diversity of opinions in mind, tech giants and influential personas decided it would be best to create a committee for the ethics of artificial intelligence.
Some companies have their own committee and their own philosophy on how to proceed with any projects that deal with Artificial Intelligence. For instance – IBM has developed their own testimonial on how the company handles ethics when it comes to AI.
To quote them directly, “Only by embedding ethical principles into AI applications and processes can we build systems based on trust.” IBM has built a document for principles on trust and transparency, stating that they believe AI’s function is to assist us in our jobs and daily lives, and that data should always be protected.
For many, this is exactly the issue – the data. Since AI is built by humans, it is logical to assume that any data will come with flaws. The way this data is compiled can bring along predictive sentencing or racial bias. The secret is to empower users to make decisions instead – since humans build AI machines, any incoherence comes from us.
How an ethics committee should be organized
Some companies out there still do not have enough guidance on the responsibility of data and ethics, however – and this is more reason for a committee to be built. It would englobe not only protection of personal data, but also health care and human protection.
An organized and efficient AI ethics committee would gather specialists who can deal with complex problems – by analyzing, assessing and responding to them.
The committee would be up-to-date with technological advancements and applications to develop any necessary decision-making attitude or process.
And, of course, a governance body is also of utmost importance.
The AI ethics board
According to CMS, first and foremost, an AI ethics committee needs a board – an AI ethics board.
This board has the goal to provide companies with leadership and guidance to explore all the technology associated with AI.
As it was already mentioned in this article, IBM has its own take on AI – but it is not the only company to do so. Microsoft’s board is called AETHER (AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research), composed of leaders in engineering and research, but also in consultancy and legal matters – together, they discuss principles and best practices suited for Microsoft’s future AI projects and solutions.
Google is another tech giant that also has developed its own AI committee – the Google DeepMind. After both companies merged together, they have formed an ethics board of top-secret nature. However, Google DeepMind Health is the branch available to the public.
The duties of an AI ethics board
AI committees hold great responsibility, and their leadership should reflect this iron fist. Therefore, it is safe to say that the duties of an ethics board are going to emphasize the cautiousness and care for the public that every committee should have. In the linked post, CMS has made suggestions of such characteristics.
Suggestions of duties can be:
- Follow specific policies when dealing with AI ethics
- Make use of thought leadership
- Conduct and document constant AI research
- Examine research ideas and pitches
- Provide training for dealing with AI
- Make correct use of AI and data – but handle any complaints when necessary
- Make sensible decisions for when, where and how AI and data are used
And, to add to this list, one can assume that such duties require certain types of members.
The members of a board
As we said, an AI ethics board should present an iron fist, given the responsibility that dealing with this topic brings. The personalities of the many leaders of a board will reflect on their performance.
Suggestions of membership can be:
- Diversity, to detect bias
- Technical understanding of Artificial Intelligence for explanation of products and services
- Legal knowledge of AI and data usage
- Variety of stakeholders and partners
- Understanding of human resources and academic education regarding AI
- Communication to clarify any concerns, and deal with public relations, customers and competitors
- Administrative members specialized in ethics in general, for different matters related to AI
The subject-matter of AI has always drawn a lot of attention – either curiosity or simply controversy. With this huge reality check and fast evolution coming at us with all force, it is only natural that we fear and admire it.
Therefore, having a solid ethics committee with a capable ethics board is the one and only step to guarantee the safekeeping of AI and personal data, and the education of all the benefits AI can bring.