What is the ethical issue?
The rapid development and evolution of AI technologies, while unleashing opportunities for business and communities across the world, have prompted a number of important ethical questions.
Governments, businesses and the public alike are demanding more accountability in the way AI technologies are devloped and used, trying to find a solution to the legal and ethical issues that will arise from growing integration of AI in society.
For businesses in particular, AI raises questions about the level of control retained over the machines’ decision-making processes, and how to ensure that AI systems always act in a way that is aligned to the organisation’s core values. Working with regulators and policy makers, businesses have the opportunity to make a significant contribution to agree on a framework of ethics in which AI can innovate safely.
The growth in AI increases the likelihood of ethical lapses in an organisation, as machines cannot be relied on to make decisions aligned with the core values of the company. The growth in AI also creates a greater technology risk, as it can be harder to identify tampering and cyber-attacks, thus compromising the privacy of the organisation.
Some business leaders have indicated that responsible organisations need to redefine how they interact with technology to be able to be seen as trustworthy in the age of AI. The automation of jobs on a large scale poses a workforce risk, as it can lead to a deskilled labour force and public backlash if human labour is replaced with AI. In light of this, businesses need to be cautious, and be able to justify any decision related to the introduction of AI.
A summary of good practice
- Openness and transparency are particularly important in the use of AI. Opening sourcing material when appropriate helps the development community better understand how AI works, thus placing them in a stronger position to explain it more accurately to the public and the media. Better information within the general public improves trust and prevents unjustified fears, which will be hard to avoid as AI continues to grow, but organisations would do well to make it as easy as possible to address.
- To reduce the technological risks associated with AI. This will create a far safer environment for businesses to operate in, as the chances of privacy or data breaches can be lowered. It is essential that companies know the impact and side effects that new technologies might have on their business and stakeholders.
- To minimise the risk of ethical lapses due to improper use of AI technologies, there are some measures that organisations can adopt. These include, but are not limited to, designing new and more detailed decision-making tools to ensure AI systems ‘do the right thing’, engaging with third parties when designing AI algorithms to ensure that they are ethical, and introducing ‘ethics tests’ for AI to teach them what to do when faced with ethical dilemmas.