Digital transformation and the ethical use of AI

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Ethics is the principled choice between right and wrong. In a highly competitive marketplace, it has become a real differentiator where reputation and ethical values are as important as delivering products and services.

We are living in an unprecedented period of change driven, in large part, by new and emerging digital technologies. These technologies can be leveraged to transform business, but few have arisen that are as potentially disruptive as artificial intelligence (AI). AI can enrich how we work, play, and live as its use becomes even more pervasive in our lives. It opens the door to new possibilities across society while at the same time, it has the capacity to do harm.

Typical AI capabilities include speech, image and video recognition, autonomous machines, natural language processing, conversational agents, advanced analytics, smart automation, and even augmented creativity. We need to ensure that the coexistence of humans and machines, in particular AI, is focused on the technology serving humans. Enterprises embark on digital transformation initiatives today to address rising customer expectations and personalized experiences as well as to achieve operational agility. While digital transformation is enabled by technology, the impact it has on the organization and individual can be profound.

Ethics is the principled choice between right and wrong. In a highly competitive marketplace, it has become a real differentiator where reputation and ethical values are as important as delivering products and services. Decisions as to the ethical and societal impact of applying AI and other digital initiatives need to be a part of an enterprise’s digital transformation framework. While digital transformation initiatives can generate real ongoing value for an enterprise, barriers to realizing benefits can result from a general lack of trust regarding how the technology is deployed and how it’s used.

Artificial intelligence is inherently data-driven and, therefore, a host of issues and concerns arise, including security, privacy, accuracy, and bias associated with its use. In effect, can people trust AI to do no harm? Any organization looking to leverage AI and other disruptive digital technologies must consider the ethical dimensions including appropriate use, transparency, security, privacy, and bias as an inherent part of transformation governance. Ethical considerations and behaviors are no longer optional in today’s digital world. Building and sustaining an ethical culture requires a commitment from the top and driving ethical behavior and transformational outcomes can only be assured when the ethical use of technologies such as AI is driven down through the digital organization embarking on the journey.

The Capgemini Research Institute recently published a fascinating report entitled, Why addressing ethical questions in AI will benefit organizations. You can download a copy here. I highly recommend the read to any executive embarking on a digital transformation journey. It not only speaks to the importance of trust and transparency when deploying AI, but it also describes the steps that an organization should take to ensure the ethical use of the underlying technology.

The report is a call to action. It highlights that 86% of executives surveyed say they are aware of instances where AI has resulted in ethical issues while, at the same time, 34% of executives identified pressure to urgently implement AI without addressing ethical issues. On the other hand, 76% of consumers expect new regulations on the use of AI. The role of AI will be key to any enterprise digital transformation initiative. How we embrace the technology must be balanced with considerations around ethical and governed use if an organization is to fully benefit from the impact and use of AI to transform business outcomes.

For more information about how to execute ethical AI in your digital transformation, contact Allan Frank.

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