Ethical AI efforts on positive corporate trajectory, finds study

A new study finds that ethical considerations are a growing part of enterprise thinking when dealing with artificial intelligence.

A major new report has found that AI now has a real impact on peoples’ lives which highlights the importance of having a strong ethical framework surrounding its use.

It found that 92% of AI leaders train their technologists in ethics, while 74% evaluate AI outcomes weekly, highlighting that business leaders are taking steps to ensure responsible use of AI within their organisations. Most AI adopters – which now account for 72 percent of organisations globally – conduct ethics training for their technologists (70%) and have ethics committees in place to review the use of AI (63%).

The study - AI Momentum, Maturity and Models for Success - was conducted together by SAS, Accenture Applied Intelligence, Intel and Forbes Insights involving a global survey among 305 business leaders, more than half of them chief information officers, chief technology offers, and chief analytics officers.

“Organizations have begun addressing concerns and aberrations that AI has been known to cause, such as biased and unfair treatment of people,” said Rumman Chowdhury, Responsible AI Lead at Accenture Applied Intelligence. “These are positive steps; however, organizations need to move beyond directional AI ethics codes that are in the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath to ‘do no harm’. They need to provide prescriptive, specific and technical guidelines to develop AI systems that are secure, transparent, explainable, and accountable – to avoid unintended consequences and compliance challenges that can be harmful to individuals, businesses, and society. Data scientists are hungry for these guidelines.”

Besides ethical issues, faulty AI output can cause repercussions, so it is for these reasons also in business interests to make sure of good ptractices, the report stated.

Despite popular messages suggesting AI operates independently of human intervention, the research shows that AI leaders recognise that oversight is not optional for these technologies. Nearly three-quarters (74 percent) of AI leaders reported careful oversight with at least weekly review or evaluation of outcomes (less successful AI adopters: 33 percent).

AI leaders also recognise the strong connection between analytics and their AI success, according to the report. Those who have deployed AI recognise that success in AI is success in analytics; for them, analytics has achieved a central role in AI.

Still, the report states that oversight processes have a long way to go before they catch up with advances in AI technology.

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