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The Business Owner's Guide to Ethical AI

Ethics in AI has been a topic for humans and data technologies for decades but is now emerging into a sector entirely of its own. Today, we're breaking down everything a business owner should know about Ethical AI.

It’s no secret that people are concerned about the future of artificial intelligence (AI). While the industry itself continues to tackle many modern-day enterprise problems, more conversations are budding in the background specific to data privacy, AI use cases, and the ethics of businesses using AI to grow profits.

The concern for AI’s future doesn’t come from the tech itself, though. Bystanders worldwide aren’t paying attention to how the tech works, they’re paying attention to who’s using it and, most importantly, why.

What is Ethical AI?

Ethical AI is both a type of AI and an approach to using AI.

As a type, Ethical AI is any AI that is built and trained with an underlying structure of fundamental values, such as individual rights, privacy, non-discrimination, and non-manipulation.

Ethical AI as an approach to using AI is the broader conversation at hand — focused mostly on whose using AI and why — that we’ll be covering today.

Why is Ethical AI Important?

With Facebook on the legislative chopping block and Musk buying Twitter, data privacy is just one of many examples of the public starting to pick up on the problems AI confronts with ethics. Other examples of the consequences of not building AI with ethics in mind include uneducated legislation and discrimination in protected practices like hiring.

But Ethical AI in its entirety goes much deeper than billionaires and social media; with the inevitability of AI’s assimilation into our lives, ethics in AI is everybody’s responsibility.

Any tech can be used for good or evil; it all comes back to the hands it falls into and their dedication to keeping AI ethical, fair, and beneficial for individuals, the environment, and society at large.

What Practicing Ethical AI Looks Like

When deployed effectively, AI can improve efficiencies on tedious tasks, clear carbon emissions, and make dangerous medical procedures much more accurate and safe for patients. Undoubtedly, the benefits of AI are endless — meaning the potential for malicious use is just as infinite.

The future of AI isn’t too bleak, though. There are hundreds of incredible companies adopting AI not only ethically and safely, but advocating for AI legislation issues, too. If you’re considering becoming one of those companies this year, make sure you’ve done or are doing the following.

Reconsider Ethics

Less than half of companies are prioritizing their ethics and compliance programs in 2022, meaning more than half of companies definitely need to take a fresh look at their ethics before even considering Ethical AI. Further than that, though, most senior leadership feels that their company’s outlined values and ethics aren’t clear enough to guide action — making adopting AI at all a difficult decision to make.

Create an Accountable Culture

The basics of change management always come back to working with what you have, rather than building something entirely new. Ethical AI in any company requires company-wide buy-in, specifically from leadership first, that is then dispersed amongst teams and individuals. Consider using an existing compliance or data privacy board to begin integrating Ethical AI.

Appoint an AI Ethicist

DataRobot, an AI company that makes cloud services for data scientists by data scientists, recently appointed Haniyeh Mahmoudian as a Global AI Ethicist to help maintain their AI’s ethical integrity as their company grows. This role is also called Data Privacy and Ethics Lead, Chief AI Ethics Lead, Director of Responsible Innovation & Responsible Innovation Manager, and several others.

Consult Experienced Nonprofits

“Ethics” as a topic is broad no matter your industry niche. Each ethical issue AI addresses, including bias, fairness, safety, transparency, and accountability, has stirred up new nonprofit organizations like the Royal Society and the Open Philanthropy Project to take the reins in addressing the ethics and implementation of said AI.

Put Together Your Ethical AI Plan

If you’re considering making Ethical AI part of your AI adoption plan this year, double and triple-check your onboarding ramp is clearly defined with goals, metrics, and stakeholders responsible for the success of each phase of your Ethical AI Plan.

Beyond the scope of what’s mentioned above, a general Ethical AI Plan accomplishes the following:

  • Clearly defines the company’s ethical standards and goals, based on industry & niche ethics challenges

  • Outlines all of the relevant Ethical AI stakeholders and their responsibilities

  • Suggests a governance structure (built off pre-existing structures) to maintain ethics in the face of unpredicted challenges

  • Maintains the lists the initiatives, priorities, and projects ongoing this year

Just like any disaster recovery plan, an Ethical AI Plan acts as a one-stop-shop for anything anyone — employees, vendors, and senior leadership alike — would need to know about your company’s stance with Ethical AI initiatives. Make sure it’s thorough, detailed, and most importantly, revisited often.

Further Readings

Interested in learning more about Ethical AI or other businesses' approach to adopting AI ethically? Check out the following for more information:

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