Building an Ethical Framework for Artificial Intelligence

When looking at artificial intelligence (AI), people’s initial fear always rings out the loudest: will robots steal away jobs? We want to dispel this misconception immediately and wholeheartedly. Ethical AI is about helping people; embracing human activity to help us be more efficient while focusing on high-quality tasks that require a human touch, such as customer service, strategy, or complex problem-solving. 

Contrary to that, we’ve seen instances of non-ethical AI, such as using automated military drones or Facebook’s political advertising algorithms deliberately targeting persuadable voters with misinformation. 

Building an Ethical Framework for Artificial Intelligence
Building an Ethical Framework for Artificial Intelligence

Another notion ethics touches upon in AI is ‘technochauvinism’, whereby automation technology classifies people in groups (rather than as individuals) and makes detrimental assumptions. An example being when gender-biased algorithms are used to make presumptive outcomes of a product or service based on the gender of the customer. 

AI presents us with a whole new understanding about ethics and values because concepts that began as science fiction are now being realised through technological advancement. Where we once fantasised about the possibilities of robots, we now must contemplate how AI should be legislated and what impact it will have upon humanity.  

Human, all too human 

Philosophers often pondered the idea of ethics because it’s one of the key elements that distinguishes human from animals. As we enter this new era of AI and machine learning (ML), we must broaden our application of ethics to include the intelligent technologies that people have built.  

SAP is proud to be a part of the EU’s High-Level Expert Group on AI (AI HELG), so we work with various manufacturers, submit papers, and engage in AI conferences to help define good-business practices and foster innovation clusters. Last year, SAP was the first European tech company to create an ethics advisory panel for AI and continues pioneering new ways to incorporate intelligent technology solutions into business. 

One organisation using AI and experience management technologies to provide more humanised services is the Queensland Office of State Revenue (OSR). The government department introduced SAP Machine Learning to assess over 187 million data records of 97,000 taxpayers across seven years, identifying taxpayers most at risk of defaulting on their land tax payments and in need of additional support.  

As a second stage, they provided a layer of experience management technology to understand why citizens were at risk of default, enabling them to deliver more tailored services to support those in need. Here we see the use of intelligent technology for customer-centric outcomes, providing a personalised and compassionate service facilitated by data-driven insights.    

Considering the sensitivity of this kind of information and an apparent distrust of the government, it’s important users and citizens feel their data is being protected from the likes of big corporations and political interests. SAP has been an industry leader in data protection for over 20 years and conducts 150 audits a year to ensure data’s security and integrity. 

Technology is advancing far more rapidly than most people understand and we can train machines faster than experts thought we could. The opportunities this presents us are endless, so we must seize the moment and take advantage of this technological momentum. Artificial intelligence isn’t here to replace humanity; it’s offering us the opportunity and freedom to be more human as employees, family members, and contributors to society.  

If you would like to learn more on this, visit SAP AI Ethics & Society or connect with Dr. Nicholas Nicoloudis, Machine Learning Principal, Innovation Factory, SAP Asia Pacific & Japan.  

Do you know more? Contact James Riley via Email.

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