The discussions around ethical artificial intelligence (AI) as part of the sustainable digitalisation of business are ongoing and getting louder (e.g., Blackman 2020; Rességuier & Rodrigues 2020; Wessberg, Gotcheva & Karvonen 2022). There is also a wealth of ideas on how it can be used to support global efforts in sustainability, e.g., predicting weather and air pollution, developing greener and smoother transportation systems and smarter cities. AI can make elections fairer and decisions more transparent. We all benefit from living in a digitalised society that uses AI ethically.
AI impacts businesses on many fronts. The more intelligent and widely used machine operated systems become, the more efficiently business is done. AI can help in predicting customer expectations, providing better customer service, monitoring supply chains, and calculating the most optimal prices. AI is predicted to lead to not only job loss but also job growth (WEF 2020) as new positions emerge in the fields of programming, engineering and data detection.
Ethical concerns about AI
Many ethical issues, need to be considered, though. For example, what will a self-driving car decide if it is about to collide with a human and another car? Our doctor may be a robot powered by AI in the future: What kind of medical decisions is it going to make based on an AI generated diagnosis? Is it going to tell all we need to know, or withhold or ignore vital information?
Cameras and apps follow us practically everywhere. How will people be profiled in monitoring and tracking devices? Is our privacy compromised and who is the data shared with? Is there racial profiling or targeting of minorities, and what happens to diversity and inclusion? These are relevant concerns for the increasing use of AI in the business and society.
Designed and generated by AI
In recent months, businesses and schools around the world have been waking up to the AI powered ChatGPT, which makes conversations, essays and poetry like a human, and DALL*E2, which makes photographs and paintings just like its human counterparts. You can, for example, ask DALL*E2 to come up with an oil painting of any theme to (almost) look like it was created by Picasso or Matisse.
Creative work like paintings and poetry may look like they have been designed by humans, but are generated by AI instead. Of course, AI is already used by businesses like marketing and communications agencies in their assignments, perhaps with some human touch to perfect the outcomes. But is it ethical to make money with AI, when the client may think that it is all based on human creativity? Can we list ChatGPT as a co-author to articles?
Coexisting with AI
The discussions of the ethics of AI are urgent and the issues need to be addressed now. That is why we asked ChatGPT to suggest steps for organisations to ensure ethical AI. These were the suggestions:
- Develop ethical guidelines and principles for AI.
- Ensure transparency in AI decision-making processes.
- Establish responsible use of data.
- Foster diversity and inclusion in AI development and deployment.
- Continuously monitor and assess AI systems for ethical compliance.
- Provide accountability and redress mechanisms for any negative impacts.
- Promote open research and collaboration in AI ethics.
Once again, technological development and digitalisation are highlighting the importance of human characteristics. AI is making ethical thinking into an even more sought-after competency than before. Only with strong ethical thinking skills can we coexist with this emerging technology. Being aware of both the risks and the opportunities AI poses, makes it possible to find solutions and new ways of working.
AI might not make us all redundant. Just the opposite, it could have the potential to make our lives and learning even more interesting and free our time for other pursuits. Just like the steam engine, electricity and computers did before.
Blackman, R. 2020. A Practical Guide to Building Ethical AI. Harvard Business Review.
Rességuier, A., & Rodrigues, R. 2020. AI ethics should not remain toothless! A call to bring back the teeth of ethics. Big Data & Society, 7(2).
Wessberg, N., Gotcheva, N., Karvonen, A. 2022. Targets of the Finland´s AI 4.0 programme and ethical business. Etrairos.
WEF 2020. The Future of Jobs Report 2020. World Economic Forum.