Developing an Ethical Technology Mindset
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As technology has advanced and become ubiquitous in our lives, a common philosophical question is whether technology itself is neutral. There are many good arguments to be made that it is — and that it is how technology is used and deployed that creates good or bad outcomes for individuals, companies, and society.
This question is important for the digital transformation shaping businesses today. With data acting as the fuel for artificial intelligence, the issues surrounding customer privacy and data tracking are increasing. Organizations and governments are recognizing this, as evidenced by the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation, which went into effect in 2018 to protect the privacy of European citizens.
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AI differs from many other tools of digital transformation and raises different concerns because it is the only technology that learns and changes its outcomes as a result. Accordingly, AI can make graver mistakes more quickly than a human could. Despite the amplified risk of its speed and scale, AI can also be tremendously valuable in business. PwC estimates that AI could contribute up to $15.7 trillion to the global economy in 2030.
To different degrees, all companies will need to become “AI companies” so they can leverage the considerable benefits to be gained through greater knowledge of their customers, explore new markets, and counteract new, AI-driven companies that might seek their market share. In recent years, we’ve watched as Netflix has overtaken the likes of ExxonMobil in value — a reminder to legacy companies that a strategic approach to becoming AI- and data-driven is key to embracing a new vision of the future.
To extract the benefits from AI while mitigating the risks, companies must ensure that they are sufficiently agile so they can adopt best practices to create responsible transformation with AI. Many tools are now available to help leaders and organizations navigate the complex use of AI. At a fundamental level, companies must transform their way of thinking about their organization, workforce, product design, development, and use of AI to engineer their success. One such example is the work of the AI platform at the World Economic Forum to provide recommendations for companies on various aspects of responsible use of technology. Our platform identifies three foundational changes that are important for companies to make as they implement responsible AI.