We must lay the ethical groundwork for artificial intelligence now, before it’s too late

Kriti Sharma
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There is so much we still do not know about AI (Source: Getty)

Artificial intelligence (AI) is having an identity crisis.

More specifically, the concept of AI is often wrongly portrayed as a thing, a noun, a sentiment being – which it is not.

The danger of overhyping and objectifying AI is that we misunderstand the valuable opportunity that presents itself, fail to fully educate the global population, and miss the chance to empower our daily lives.

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As an engineer who spends every day researching the best ways to build this technology, I was pleased to see the recent global survey from Sage confirm most people are optimistic about AI.

However, it concerns me that nearly half of all consumers surveyed admitted that they have “no idea what AI is all about” – further evidence that we need to better educate, define, and communicate the benefits. AI has the potential to improve quality of life, revolutionise productivity, and positively impact the GDP of the country – but only if we embrace the opportunity responsibly, and with both hands.

AI is straightforward; it is the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans. What is not straightforward, however, is how AI is applied and the ethics with which we govern the algorithms that inform our decision-making every day.

This is not an impending technology apocalypse – it is already part of everyday life, although you might not know it yet.

Viewing preferences on Netflix, suggested music on Spotify, and the ability to monitor finances are all daily tasks assisted by AI. It will, without a doubt, act as a key driver of the next evolution of work by enhancing productivity, both in business and communities.

As adoption continues to grow, so does the need for education, to ensure that the technology is universally understood and accessible by all. No education is complete without also addressing the accountabilities associated with development and diversity in AI.

This is why Sage developed the “Ethics of Code”, a set of core principles for the responsible design of AI for business.

There is so much we still do not know about AI and its current application is somewhat juvenile in comparison to its infinite potential. One thing we are sure of is that the impact of AI is global, all-encompassing, and inevitable.

While perceptions may vary across the tech sector, enterprise and consumer communities around the world, it is clear that there is no escaping AI’s impact on business or on our daily lives.

I welcome the House of Lords’ public inquiry into the field of AI and am pleased to be contributing to this important discussion by giving evidence today. Businesses that do not embrace and adopt AI technology will get left behind.

But if we wait until the applications are already widespread, we will have missed the chance to lay the ethical groundwork needed to get this technology right.

We need to be having the conversation about the ethics of AI now, before it’s too late.

Read more: Risk of robots to financial markets must be monitored - global watchdog

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