Artificial Intelligence is being deployed across all industries and revolutionizing the world in which we live, work and play in. It brings multiple opportunities to people, helping them achieve more than ever. AI systems have immense potential to reduce costs and increase productivity, but not without becoming more human-like and understanding true emotion and acting accordingly.
Measures need to be taken to ensure that data processed by AI isn’t acquiring unconscious biases, racial or gender preferences, and idiosyncrasies that could lead to negative experiences. As the Diversity and Inclusion lead at Microsoft Canada, this is especially important to me as the work environment, coupled with the technology we’re using, needs to be held to a high standard.
Building AI upon an Ethical Foundation
Because AI brings tremendous value to people and organizations, the opportunities are endless. At Microsoft, we believe it’s important to build a framework to help ensure the AI is ethical and held accountable for our diverse world. These four principles help guide that strategy:
- Fairness – maximize efficiencies without destroying dignity
- Accountability – must have algorithmic accountability
- Transparency – must be transparent
- Ethics – must assist humanity and be designed for intelligent privacy
Microsoft is making it easier than ever to get started with AI by making it accessible to everyone and enabling new ways to solve challenges. We recently launched AI for accessibility, a program to amplify human capability and empower over 1+ billion people living with disabilities. With 70% of disabilities being invisible to the eye, it’s extremely important to be mindful of how AI is used for all, in a moral way.
At Microsoft, we believe that building ethics into the core foundation of AI allows for better decision making, as it allows the AI to run on data that reflects the diversity of its users. Organizations working to include and leverage the entire workforce to participate in AI initiatives can optimize their maximum potential by allowing the technology to embody and advance the interests of the company, its staff and its consumer base.
The importance of AI Transparency
Everyone should have access to information that will enable them to understand and evaluate the operation and fairness of AI systems that may affect them in important ways. Some examples might include AI systems that affect legal rights like insurance or employment. Employees must also trust that implementing AI will augment and/or enhance the work environment, not replace individual contributors.
Primary elements of the design, operation and functioning of AI systems should be transparent to the public. This is why Microsoft collaborates with industry, policy makers and consumer advocates to share best practices and develop innovative technologies to help enhance transparency. Including a diverse group of people into the conversation allows us to achieve more visibility and perspective and enhance the public’s trust in AI.
Technology and Innovation are led by Diversity and Inclusion
AI is built upon data fed to it by humans, so it’s only as effective as the data set upon which it is trained. Because AI systems will perform tasks that were exclusively performed by humans, it’s critical to design those systems in a manner that reflects the diversity of the societies in which they operate. At Microsoft, maximizing the contribution of every individual allows us to infuse diverse thought as a natural part of the way we innovate.
The integration of AI into your workplace is inevitable. Be open to learning how to interact with it by starting small, and ensure you fully understand the data to help set you up for success.