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Responsible AI starts with responsible leaders - PwC

By Sara Barker
Fri 5 Jul 2019
FYI, this story is more than a year old

Responsible practices in artificial intelligence (AI) starts with how each individual organisation plans to strategise, design, develop, and deploy the technology. 

A new paper by PwC puts AI’s economic potential at a colossal $15.7 trillion, but it will only be realised if organisations adopt responsible practices before developments take place.

There are five areas that organisations must focus on with regards to AI: Governance; ethics and regulation; interpretability and explainability; robustness and security; and bias and fairness.

According to PwC these dimensions focus on embedding strategic planning and governance in AI's development, combating growing public concern about fairness, trust and accountability.

Previous research showed that 85% of CEOs admitted that AI will change their business practices in the next five years, and 84% said AI decision must be explainable to be trusted.

"The issue of ethics and responsibility in AI are clearly of concern to the majority of business leaders,” comments PwC US global AI leader Anand Rao.

In a poll of 250 senior business executives conducted in May and June, many businesses have already started making headway into ethical AI practices.

  • Only 25% of respondents said they would prioritise a consideration of the ethical implications of an AI solution before implementing it.
  • One in five (20%) have clearly defined processes for identifying risks associated with AI. Over 60% rely on developers, informal processes, or have no documented procedures.
  • Ethical AI frameworks or considerations existed, but enforcement was not consistent.
  • 56% said they would find it difficult to articulate the cause if their organisation's AI did something wrong.
  • Over half of respondents have not formalised their approach to assessing AI for bias, citing a lack of knowledge, tools, and ad hoc evaluations.
  • 39% of respondents with AI applied at scale were only "somewhat" sure they know how to stop their AI if it goes wrong.

"AI brings opportunity but also inherent challenges around trust and accountability,” continues Rao.

“To realise AI's productivity prize, success requires integrated organisational and workforce strategies and planning. There is a clear need for those in the C-suite to review the current and future AI practices within their organisation, asking questions to not just tackle potential risks, but also to identify whether adequate strategy, controls and processes are in place.”

“The C-suite needs to actively drive and engage in the end-to-end integration of a responsible and ethically led strategy for the development of AI in order to balance the economic potential gains with the once-in-a-generation transformation it can make on business and society. One without the other represents fundamental reputational, operational and financial risks."

PwC launched a Responsible AI Toolkit to help organisations navigate aspects of ethical AI.

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