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Sage Calls for Businesses to Define the Ethical Principles that Guide AI Development

New whitepaper outlines key steps for businesses to put the ethical AI principles into practice to benefit industry, government and society

Sage, the market leader in cloud business management solutions, today released “Building a Competitive, Ethical AI Economy,” a position paper that uncovers the important and unanswered questions surrounding AI. The paper by Sage, which serves 3 million businesses in 23 countries, 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,” said Kriti Sharma, VP of Artificial Intelligence at Sage. “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. 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.”

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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.  Because of this work for Sage, Kriti Sharma was also invited a civic leader to the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit.

Building a Competitive, Ethical AI Economy” — click here to download full version

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Industry’s next challenge will be to move the global conversation away from AI as a threat – or replacement – for humans, and towards encouraging organizations 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
    • For business – Develop or revise corporate governance frameworks.
    • For government – Look at the role of regulators, like the UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC), in guiding and assisting specific sectors on ethical best practices implementation.
  2. Demystifying AI and sharing accountability
    • For business – Engage external ethical experts to explore how AI accountability or explainability applies to specific corporate ambitions.
    • For government – Recognize that there needs to be a balance between corporate AI innovation and increased accountability.
  3. Building human trust in corporate AI
    • For business – Make corporate approaches to informing stakeholders about AI and its purpose as transparent as possible.
    • For government – Run government-anchored awareness campaigns to reduce public inhibitions around AI presence in work and everyday life.
  4. Welcoming AI into the workforce
    • For business – Empower HR functions with data to map future skills demand.
    • For government – Ensure young people leave education equipped for applying AI and redirect existing skills investment into staff retraining for jobs that interact significantly with AI.

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The position paper distills key insights (documented under Chatham House rule) from a recent discussion between government, international business leaders and NFP organizations – hosted by Sage. The output of the conversation underscores how industry can shed light on AI development for users, gain company-wide support for ethical AI practices, adopt ethical standards for AI development and apply ethical approaches to AI development in the real world. This paper further details takeaways and recommendations from the discussion.

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