The Rationale for Responsible AI

The General 'Consensus'

A typical commercial AI model is not usually developed to favour privacy, explainability and fairness. The general consensus has been that increased model performance delivers increased profits. And it can be the case that a black-box model has accuracy advantages over a glass-box model or a model that includes ethics-by-design. For example, an explainable model brings your algorithm’s reasoning closer to the surface, making it easier for competitors to copy, additionally algorithmic fairness could lead to competitive disadvantage.

How does responsible AI with all these limitations make business sense?

Because the business world is changing, fast. More than just CSR, ethical practices are a form of business currency that get noticed in the marketplace. Industry studies show that a lack of clear, recognisable business ethics affects a company’s brand and reputation.

A 2019 study by think-tank Doteveryone reported that “companies are losing valuable, highly skilled staff as a significant proportion of tech workers quit their jobs over irresponsible practices.”

Consumers are becoming acutely aware of the risks inherent in AI systems. Governments are rapidly implementing new regulations around AI development practices and businesses are sending a clear message; they want “practical guidelines so that they can innovate with confidence.”

The message is clear

In December 2020 the US Government issued an executive order that articulated a set of ethical principles for federal agencies when acquiring AI from the private sector.

In a letter to Congress, IBM’s CEO said that the company “will not condone uses of any technology… for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with IBM’s values and Principles of Trust and Transparency.”

The best talent wants to work with responsible AI

Companies with explainable models and published research have an advantage in that they are able to attract people coming out of top universities that are working on these papers. 

We are witnessing that the advantages of ethical modeling are paying off more than the disadvantages of typical commercial black box models. And this is an important trend to follow.

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