Why You Need an AI Organizational Ethics Board to Do AI Right

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Artificial intelligence (AI) may still seem a little futuristic to many, but the average consumer would be surprised to know where AI can be found. It is no longer a sci-fi concept confined to Hollywood and feature films or top-secret technology only found in the computer labs of the Googles and Metas of the world, quite the contrary. Today, AI is not only driving many of our online purchases and social media recommendations, customer service inquiries and loan approvals, but it is also actively creating music, win art contests and beat humans in games that have been around for thousands of years.

Due to this growing lack of awareness surrounding the expanded capabilities of AI, an essential first step for any organization or business that uses or provides it should be to form an AI ethics committee. This committee would be responsible for two major initiatives: engagement and education.

The ethics committee would not only prevent malpractice and unethical applications of AI as it is used and implemented. It would also work closely with regulators to set realistic parameters and formulate rules that proactively protect individuals from potential pitfalls and biases. Additionally, it would educate consumers and allow them to see AI through a neutral lens supported by critical thinking. Users need to understand that AI can change the way we live and work and can also perpetuate the biases and discriminatory practices that have plagued humanity for centuries.

The case of an AI ethics committee

The major institutions working with AI are probably the most aware of its potential to positively change the world, as well as cause harm. Some may be more experienced than others in the space, but internal oversight is important for organizations of all sizes and with leaders of varying experience. For example, the Google engineer who was himself convinced that a natural language processing (NLP) model was actually sentient AI (it wasn’t) is a clear example that even education and internal ethical parameters must take precedence. Starting AI development off on the right foot is paramount to its (and our) future success.


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Microsoft, for example, is constantly innovating with AI and putting ethical considerations at the forefront. The software giant recently announced the possibility of using AI to recap team meetings. This could mean less note-taking and more on-the-spot strategic thinking. But despite the win, it also doesn’t mean there was perfect AI innovation coming from the software company. Over the summer, Microsoft discontinued its AI facial analysis tools due to risk of bias.

Even though the development hasn’t been perfect every time, it shows the importance of having ethical guidelines in place to determine the level of risk. In the case of Microsoft’s AI facial analysis, these guidelines determined that the risk outweighed the reward, protecting us all from something that could have had potentially dangerous outcomes, like the difference between being granted an urgent monthly support check and being wrongfully denied. assistance.

Choose proactive over passive AI

Internal AI ethics boards serve as checks and balances to the development and advancement of new technologies. They also allow an organization to fully inform and form consistent opinions on how regulators can protect all citizens from harmful AI. While the White House’s proposal for an AI Bill of Rights shows that active regulation is fast approaching, industry experts have yet to come up with well-informed ideas about what’s best for citizens. and organizations in safe AI.

Once an organization has committed to creating an AI ethics committee, it is important to practice three proactive, as opposed to passive, approaches:

1. Build with intention

The first step is to sit down with the committee and finalize the end goal together. Be diligent in your research. Speak to technical leads, communicators and anyone in the organization who may have something to add about the direction of the committee – diversity of input is key. It can be easy to lose sight of the scope and primary function of the AI ​​ethics committee if goals and objectives are not established early on, and the end product could stray from its original intent. Find solutions, set a schedule and stick to it.

2. Don’t boil the ocean

Much like the vast blue seas that surround the world, AI is a complex field that reaches far and goes deep, with many unexplored trenches. When you start your committee, don’t go too broad or too broad in scope. Be focused and intentional in your AI plans. Know what your use of this technology aims to solve or improve.

Be open to diverse viewpoints

A background in deep technology is helpful, but a well-rounded board includes diverse perspectives and stakeholders. This diversity allows for the expression of valuable opinions on the potential ethical threats of AI. Include the legal, creative, media and engineering team. This will give the company and its clients representation in all areas where ethical dilemmas may arise. Create a company-wide “call to action” or prepare a questionnaire to set goals. Remember that the goal here is to broaden your dialogue.

Education and commitment save the day

AI ethics boards facilitate two aspects of the success of an organization using AI: education and engagement. Educating everyone internally, from engineers to Todd and Mary in accounting, about the pitfalls of AI will better equip organizations to inform regulators, consumers, and other industry stakeholders and promote an engaged society and educated on artificial intelligence issues.

CF Su is Vice President of Machine Learning at Hyperscience.


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