3 minute read 22 Jan 2019
Students working together computer library

How to embrace AI responsibly and make it inclusive

By

Jeff Wong

EY Global Chief Innovation Officer

Innovation aficionado and change agent at EY. Technology enthusiast. Passionate supporter of STEM and women in technology.

3 minute read 22 Jan 2019

Show resources

It’s how we use the AI, not the technology itself, that enables us to solve problems and build a better working world.

It’s no surprise, emerging technology continues to transform organizations and entire industries. Artificial intelligence (AI) is equipping workforces with super powers, helping to cure diseases and pushing the boundaries of space exploration. At EY, AI is allowing our people to complete tasks faster and more accurately than ever before, so they can focus on more meaningful work for our clients.

There’s tremendous opportunity in AI and today’s business leaders are seeing its benefits. However, as we push the boundaries of innovation, we should do so responsibly. With inequality and widening gender gaps creating social divides, business leaders must be diligent in how they develop and use AI technology to ensure it helps, not hinders, inclusive growth.

As CEOs discuss key issues facing business and society at the World Economic Forum, here are three ways business leaders can take a responsible approach to AI:

1. Address biases

In addition to solving complex problems quickly and accurately, AI is also being used to reduce human bias in decision-making processes. If you look at AI tools for hiring, they can help organizations eliminate some biases so hiring decisions are based on desired capabilities and the innate skills of candidates.

At the same time, if biases are embedded in the hiring tool (such as workforce preferences by gender or ethnicity), the AI will reinforce this unintended bias in the hiring process.

Therein lies the responsibility of humans in the process. If we’re programming biases into AI technology, the future success and inclusive application of it cannot be fully realized. When developing AI, it’s critical to recognize biases, scrutinize algorithms and test the outcomes at every stage.

2. Diversify talent

To avoid programming biases into AI technology and contributing to broader social inequalities, business leaders also need to attract and hire diverse talent.

Why? There is a clear correlation between the lack of diversity in AI talent and distortions in some machine-learning outcomes. Unfortunately, technology fields continue to be male dominated and it’s estimated that only 18% of women hold top positions in AI disciplines.

Business leaders must ensure their talent pools are gender-balanced and representative of people and teams with the right mix of skills, experiences, education backgrounds and social, cultural and professional perspectives. This mix of diversity is critical at every stage of AI development.

3. Educate early

While it’s important for organizations to provide training programs for employees to develop critical skills in AI technology, it’s also important to connect with members of academia including teachers and students, to ensure that this inclusive approach to AI is embedded in curriculums from the start. Organizations like AI4ALL do a great job educating future AI thinkers and leaders by creating pipelines for underrepresented talent in AI and instilling the fundamental principles of using AI for social good. It’s in business leaders’ interest to start building their talent pipeline early by supporting these agendas and educating the next generation of AI leaders. 

I encourage business leaders to embrace AI’s transformative potential and, in doing so, take a responsible approach to it. The business return is inherently obvious and as we get smarter with our approach to AI, so too will the outputs of the technology. After all, it’s how we use the AI, not the technology itself, that ultimately enables us to solve problems and build a better working world.

What’s possible in the Transformative Age? Join EY to discuss this and all the pressing economic and social issues as we look to the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2019 – from 22-25 January. Join the debate via ey.com/wef and using #WEF19 and #BetterWorkingWorld.

Summary

For organizations to fully realize the transformative potential of AI, they must deploy it responsibly – with humans at the heart of the decision-making, but with our inherent biases recognised, so that they are not replicated in the algorithms.

About this article

By

Jeff Wong

EY Global Chief Innovation Officer

Innovation aficionado and change agent at EY. Technology enthusiast. Passionate supporter of STEM and women in technology.