There is a current debate about Ethics & AI, or the impact of AI and other type of new innovative solutions created by technologies. Currently, the conversation is focused on the negative sides of the technology and AI, with a negative angle and pessimistic approach to the future. As a result, recommendations are based on control mechanisms and regulations to punish the use of AI, algorithms and technology. Besides, the discussions on open and transparency of algorithms when the application has a strong society purpose, such as the “Covid19 tracking app”. We have to change the conversation and the paradigm how we design and develop AI, algorithms and technology.
Every AI and algorithm should be design and develop by a multidisciplinary team of software developers, architects, computer science, psychologist, sociologist, philosophers, the final users and the key stakeholders of the solution has to be involved. The AI design and development has not to be an isolated activity done by only the software developer and programmer.
I have created a methodology to integrate the emotional intelligence skills for AI design and development from two perspectives, one from the mood of the software developer and the other from the side of the final user and user experience (you can find it in my book, here) and in our Webinar about How to use Emotional Intelligence for Artificial Intelligence. Besides, I would like to mention other activities to review the impact assessment of technology in our planet. Borderstep Institute in Berlin create a tool and a project to assess startups via the Sustainable Development Goals and sustainability assessment (link here). On the psychological side of the design equation Prof. Rafael Calvo and Dorian Peters wrote in 2014 a book called Positive Computing, to enhance the conversation towards a technology design for wellbeing and human potential.
In my opinion, all those efforts are a very good first step, but we need to go further. I created the “Integrated Reporting for AI and Technology Design” with the following 4 pillars:
- Financial reporting
- Sustainability reporting
- Society impact reporting
- Future reporting
This is taking the approach of Integrated Reporting for companies and twisted to technology design and development. I adapted the format to approach impact of technology towards questions every designer and researcher and organization has to have in mind during the design and development phase of a new algorithm or technology.
It is clear that we are not all facebook who is using our data and their algorithms to maximize their profits, but we have to think together if the economic impact of the algorithm for our organization and for others. For instance, Uber is forcing their riders to take rides because this is creating economic benefits for Uber. If we are aware of this economic impact, we can have a very good approach of the main objective. And for my perspective, we have to ask us questions more than writing code. Is it the mental health of the user more important than the economic benefits? or Are there an economic benefit this algorithm is creating to the organization or project? Are you thinking to balance mental health vs economic benefits?
As it is important to keep in mind the questions and in which direction we are thinking before starting to code the first line. For instance, how is the impact in our CO2 footprint, in our air pollution if the Uber users are using “car rides” every day? How to minimize the CO2 footprint of the algorithm? Is it possible that Uber award the usage of the electric car? What is the impact to our planet of every functionality of your system and algorithm? What SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) are represented? (you can listen the podcast with Prof. Fichter from Borderstep Institute about their tool to assess startups with SDGs)
SOCIETY & INDUSTRY IMPACT REPORTING
This is very important and maybe the more philosophical question if we are talking about impact in our society. For instance, TakeAway, Deliveroo and this “delivery-apps” are changing our values as a society. We have to be aware of this changes, because it will imply another ones and as well to answer other consequences of the usage of the new technologies. The delivery apps are creating that the person with a minimum effort can request anything from anyone. What are the implications in our way of thinking and behaving? It is very important to be aware.
If we are looking together at our industry, supply chain, and value chain. What is the impact of this algorithm in their way of working, way of operating, way of researching and way of doing business? What is the impact in the society and in our industry by designing and developing the AI algorithm and the new technology?
If we are looking at impact and consequences from present perspective, as well we have to include the future. Future is about business models this algorithm or technology is creating. Even, if we design an algorithm for research purposes or with non-profit in mind. We have not to be naive because you don’t know of other people or organization will use the algorithm (think to create a code of conduct for algorithms). And it’s interesting always to think about the future usage and the future change this type of tech will create. At the same time, let’s reflect on what kind of future we want to have when as well designing technology and algorithms because nowadays we have never to underestimate the power of new tech in the market. Which kind of future do you want to have? Is this technology creating a future you do want to live in?
Let’s keep the conversation going, and let’s think in a different way!
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