AI’s Rapid Growth Raises Ethical Concerns for Organizations
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has experienced significant growth in recent years, with tech giants and individuals alike incorporating it into their products and daily lives. According to Deloitte’s Technology Trust Ethics Report, 74% of surveyed companies have already started testing generative AI, while 65% are using it internally. This increased awareness of AI’s capabilities has sparked discussions about how organizations can ethically harness this technology.
Deloitte interviewed 26 specialists across various industries to gather insights into how industry leaders are addressing ethical concerns surrounding emerging technologies, including generative AI. The company then conducted a survey with over 1,700 businesses and technical professionals to further explore these issues. The report defines emerging technologies as cognitive technologies (including general and generative AI and chatbots), digital reality, ambient experiences, autonomous vehicles, quantum computing, distributed ledger technology, and robotics.
According to the survey, 39% of respondents, including business leaders and developers, believed that cognitive technologies had the most potential for social good. In comparison, only 12% saw potential in digital reality and ambient experiences. However, 57% of respondents also identified cognitive technologies as having the greatest potential for serious ethical risks.
The most concerning finding was that 56% of respondents stated that their companies either lacked ethical principles or were uncertain about having them in place for the use of generative AI. This highlights the need for organizations to establish clear ethical guidelines.
Deloitte’s report also highlighted specific concerns raised by survey respondents. Data privacy was a concern for 22% of respondents, while 14% cited a lack of transparency regarding how AI is trained with data. Other concerns included data poisoning and intellectual property and copyright issues, each mentioned by 12% of respondents. Data poisoning refers to the contamination of training data sets, leading to inaccurate AI results.
The report also outlined the potential damages that can arise from ethical violations. The greatest concern was reputational damage, mentioned by 38% of respondents. Other concerns included human damage (27%), regulatory penalties (17%), financial damage (9%), and employee dissatisfaction (9%). Several lawsuits have already been filed due to privacy violations and copyright infringement related to the unethical use of AI.
To ensure the safe and ethical use of AI, Deloitte suggests a multi-step approach for companies:
1. Exploration: Companies should allow product owners, business leaders, and AI/ML practitioners to explore generative AI through workshops to understand its value.
2. Foundational: Companies can either buy or build AI platforms to implement generative AI. 30% of respondents’ companies opted for existing capabilities, while 8% built their own platforms.
3. Governance: Establishing standards and protocols for AI use can minimize potential harm. Companies should define ethical principles to guide their AI implementation.
4. Trainings and Education: Mandate trainings on ethical principles and technical aspects of using AI to provide employees with guidance.
5. Pilots: Run experiments and pilot programs to test proof of concepts, eliminating risky aspects.
6. Implementation: Develop a plan for introducing enhanced products into the market, assign accountability, and have a team of experts ready to address any issues. Transparency is crucial in explaining the model’s inputs, outputs, and potential limitations.
7. Audit: Modify policies based on the risks associated with AI use. Each company’s approach will vary depending on their specific use cases.
According to Beena Ammanath, the report’s author, companies must work together to identify risks and establish governance early on to generate stakeholder value and contribute to a more equitable world.
In conclusion, as AI continues to advance, organizations must prioritize ethical considerations. By following Deloitte’s suggested approach, companies can harness the potential of AI while minimizing risks and ensuring the responsible use of this powerful technology.