Artificial intelligence (AI) appears to be everywhere. As AI models such as ChatGPT are experiencing a huge increase in popularity, calls from critics and regulators to do something about the potential threats posed by AI have circulated the airwaves. Understandably, this has sparked a debate about whether the benefits of AI outweigh its risks.
In recent months, the US Federal Trade Commission has issued several statements on AI programs. These culminated in a statement made in April 2023 with the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission supporting “responsible innovation in automated systems”.
figure 1 Now is the time to consider the ethical side of AI technology. Source: White Knight Labs
Why is the FTC starting its investigation? oh
Cybersecurity expert Greg Hatcher, co-founder of White Knight Labs, says there are three main areas the FTC is concerned about: inaccuracy, bias and discrimination. He says he has good reason to be worried. “Time has shown that models can be erroneously trained to discriminate based on ethnicity, and the vast majority of AI developers are white men, leading to a homogenous approach,” he explains.
However, according to cloud computing guru Michael Gibbs, founder and CEO of Go Cloud Careers, this bias is not inherent to AI systems, but a direct result of biases instilled in them by their creators. Gibbs explains, “Artificial intelligence is not inherently biased – AI can be biased depending on the way it is trained.” “Using unbiased information is critical when developing custom AI systems. Companies can easily avoid bias with AI by training their models with unbiased information.
Executive coach and business consultant Banu Kelner has helped many organizations responsibly integrate AI solutions into their operations. She cites the hysteria surrounding AI as a major reason behind many of these shortcomings.
Kellner explains, “The blinding pace of competition can mean that ethics are eclipsed by the rush to innovate.” “With the atmosphere of the whole “gold rush”, thoughtfulness sometimes loses momentum. Monitoring helps apply the brakes so that we don’t race to the bottom.
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Kellner says the biggest challenge business leaders face when adopting AI technology is striking a balance between their vision as a leader and the increased efficiency AI will provide to their operations. She says, “True leadership is about crafting a point of view and getting other people to agree to that point of view.” “As human beings, we must play the role of architects in shaping the attitudes and values for our emerging future. In doing so, AI and other technologies can serve as invaluable tools that empower humanity to reach new heights, rather than limit us to toys of rapidly evolving AI.
As a leading cybersecurity consultant, Hatcher finds himself most interested in the impact of AI on data privacy. After all, proponents of artificial intelligence have come to appreciate AI’s ability to process data at a level once thought impossible. Additionally, the training process also depends on the input of large amounts of data to improve the performance of these models. Hatcher points out that this level of data processing can lead to “dark patterns,” or confusing and misleading user interfaces.
Figure 2 AI could potentially enable dark patterns and confusing user interfaces. Source: White Knight Labs
“Improvements in the accuracy and performance of AI tools could lead to more invasive forms of surveillance,” he explains. “You know those unwanted ads that keep popping up in your browser after you bought that new pink unicorn bike for your kid last week? AI will facilitate those transactions and make them easier and less noticeable. This is moving into ‘dark pattern’ territory – the exact behavior that the FTC regulates.”
Kellner also warned about the unintended consequences of AI if our organizations and processes become so dependent on the technology that it begins to influence our decision-making. “Both individuals and organizations may become increasingly dependent on AI to handle complex tasks, which may result in reduced skills, expertise, and passive acceptance of AI-generated recommendations,” she says. “This growing reliance has the potential to develop a culture of complacency, where users neglect to examine the validity or ethical implications of AI-driven decisions, thereby undermining the importance of human intuition, empathy, and ethical judgment.”
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To address these consequences of AI implementation, Hatcher suggests that there are several measures the FTC can take to enforce responsible use of the technology.
Hatcher claims, “The FTC needs to be proactive when employing AI in cybersecurity solutions and move forward on the impact of AI on data privacy by creating stricter data protection rules for the collection, storage and use of personal data.” “The FTC can expect companies to implement advanced data security measures, which may include encryption, multi-factor authentication, secure data sharing protocols, and strong access controls to protect sensitive information.”
In addition, the FTC may require developers of AI programs and the companies implementing them to be more proactive about their data security. “The FTC should also encourage AI developers to prioritize transparency and explainability in AI algorithms used for cyber security purposes,” Hatcher says. “Eventually, the FTC may require companies to conduct third-party audits and evaluations of their AI-powered cyber security systems to verify compliance with data privacy and security standards. These audits can help identify weaknesses and ensure best practices are followed.
For Kellner, the solution lies in the synergy that must be found between the capabilities of human employees and their AI tools. She warns, “If we think about replacing humans with AI just because it’s easier, cheaper, and faster, we may be shooting ourselves off the feet.” “I believe organizations and individuals need to be clear on the essential human elements they want to preserve, then explore how AI can thoughtfully enhance them, not eliminate them . The goals complement each other—AI enhances our strengths while we maintain duties that require the human touch.
Figure 3 There is a need for greater synergy between the capabilities of human employees and their AI tools. Source: White Knight Labs
One application of AI in which a perfect example of this balance can be found is in personal finance. finance app eyeballs financial Uses AI in its financial advisory services. However, Michelle Morrison, the app’s founder and CEO, stresses that the AI itself does not provide financial advice. Instead, AI is used to complement a real-life financial advisor.
Morrison explains, “If a client asks ‘Should I sell my Disney stock?’ As the question asks, the app will respond, ‘iBalls does not provide financial advice,’ and the message will be forwarded to their advisor.” “iBalls Financial App does not provide or suggest financial advice of any kind. Instead, it provides customers with a comprehensive overview of their investment performance and answers questions quickly based on their latest customer details. The app is voice-activated and available 24/7 in real time, ensuring customers can access financial information anytime, anywhere.
The use case of iBalls is a perfect example of how human participation is necessary to test the power of AI. Business leaders should remember that AI technologies are still in their infancy. Since these models are still developing and learning, it is important to remember that they are imperfect and bound to make mistakes. Thus, humans must be involved to prevent the disastrous consequences of any mistake.
Although we cannot ignore the tremendous potential that AI models provide to make work more efficient in almost every industry, business leaders must be responsible for its implementation. The consequences of applying AI irresponsibly can be more harmful than the benefits it brings.
The debate about artificial intelligence is best summed up in a question posed by Kellner: “Are we trying to empower ourselves or are we trying to create a god to rule us?” As long as AI is implemented with responsible practices, businesses can remain firmly in the former category, and reduce the risk of falling prey to the latter.
John Steigerwalt co-founder of White Knight Labs,