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Is it right to offer your AI bookkeeper a cup of coffee?

Is it right to offer your AI bookkeeper a cup of coffee?

What are the ethical dimensions of Artificial Intelligence (AI)? This slippery concept, actively debated by both engineers and philosophers, is the kernel of a new position paper by a company whose future will probably be determined by AI, Sage, a leading global supplier of so-called ERM or Enterprise Resource Management systems, most of which is actively migrating to cloud-based solutions.

Earlier this week, Sage released its latest business report under the title “Building a Competitive, Ethical AI Economy.” It is a position paper that uncovers the important and unanswered questions surrounding AI. The paper was compiled with participation from global businesses and government representatives. It outlines actionable insights for business and society to leverage AI-powered technologies in an ethical, trustworthy and sustainable way.

“The danger of overhyping and objectifying AI is that we don’t realize the valuable opportunity that presents itself. Fundamental to this will be addressing the ethical issues posed by AI, head-on. As an established business embracing this technology, we think that is our responsibility to do that with our peers, for our customers and society as a whole.” said Kriti Sharma, VP of Artificial Intelligence at Sage. “We know that the businesses we serve – from start-up to enterprise – could make huge productivity gains by embracing AI. But we need industry and government to help clear a way through the ethical issues and move the global conversation forward. This paper, built with experienced business leaders and with government officials, sets out a proposal for doing exactly that.”

Ethical AI implementation has gained new urgency as global consumer concerns have peaked. Transparency over data collection and subsequent usage have entered the mainstream lexicon in recent months. Building a Competitive, Ethical AI Economy builds on Sage’s core principles for ethical AI development – The Ethics of Code – released in June 2017, propelling the conversation around the future of AI forward. Shortly after the publication of The Ethics of Code, Sage was called to testify before the UK Parliament’s Select Committee on AI.

Industry’s next challenge will be to move the global conversation away from AI as a threat – or replacement – for humans, and towards encouraging organisations to approach AI as a complement to human ingenuity. That process begins with executive boards and business leaders defining ethical principles that guide AI development within specific departments, companies, industries and markets. Industry leaders and government must then work closely with AI experts to put ethical principles into practice under four key pillars: (1) Introducing AI corporate governance and ethical frameworks; (2) Demystifying AI and sharing accountability; (3) Building human trust in corporate AI; and (4) Welcoming AI into the workforce.

The position paper distills key insights from a recent dialogue hosted by Sage between government, international business leaders and NFP organisations. This interaction underscores industry’s imperative role to shed light on AI development for users, to gain company-wide support for ethical AI practices, to adopt ethical standards for AI development and to apply ethical approaches to AI development in the real world.

Download the full paper here:


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