In a fiercely competitive international Artificial Intelligence (AI) race, UK businesses must lead by example and take an ethical approach to AI adoption, according to a new report published by the CBI.
AI is transforming the way we live and work, from analysing millions of legal documents to detecting financial fraud. CBI research shows that it will impact most sectors of the economy by 2021. And a recent PwC study estimated that UK GDP could be up to 10% higher in 2030 due to AI – equivalent to an additional £232bn.
But businesses face key ethical issues from how to empower employees in a fast-changing workplace to explaining complex algorithmic decisions to customers.
There are three priorities that the CBI calls on businesses to consider:
- Embed: update governance processes or develop new frameworks specifically for AI, for example ethics boards that have the authority to make impactful recommendations or decisions
- Engage: empower staff to engage with AI technology, challenge unfair bias in data and ensure teams designing the technology are diverse
- Explain: make sure consumers know when decisions are taken by AI and how their data is being used to make decisions
Felicity Burch, CBI Director of Digital and Innovation, said:
“At a time of slowing global growth, AI could add billions of pounds to the UK economy and transform our stuttering productivity performance.
“The government has set the right tone by establishing the Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation, but it’s up to business to put ethics into practice.
“Ethics’ can be an intimidating word. But at the end of the day, meaningful ethics is similar to issues organisations already think about: effective governance, employee empowerment, and customer engagement.
“The same actions that embed an ethical approach to AI will also make businesses more competitive. We know that diverse businesses are more likely to outperform their rivals. When it comes to AI, businesses who prioritise fairness and inclusion are more likely to create algorithms that make better decisions, giving them the edge.
“With the global tech race heating up, the UK is well placed to lead the world in developing ethical AI, which uses data safely and drives progress in business and society.”
Three E’s for practical ethics include:
- Embed ethics at the core of your approach to AI
- Evaluate how AI fits into existing governance frameworks. Consider creating new principles or frameworks, by adapting external codes like the NHS code of conduct for AI.
- Introduce human oversight of AI systems
- Check suppliers and customers align with a firm’s ethical principles
- Engage employees so they can participate in an AI-powered workplace and improve data and diversity to improve algorithms
- Prepare all employees for working in an environment that is rapidly changing and embrace a culture of lifelong learning and embed upskilling
- Designate time and resource for developers to think about the impact of their products and services and have processes for workers to raise ethical concerns.
- Use tools to test algorithms for unfair bias and take action to make data sets more inclusive
- Explain AI to customers, from data security and privacy to how an algorithm will use data to come to a decision
- Inform people when decisions are being taken by algorithms and take steps to explain the factors that will impact on a decision
- Highlight to customers when they are interacting with AI
- Build robust cyber security practices for general IT systems and AI products