In 2019, the UK ranked second in the world in the AI readiness index and led Western European countries as the most prepared country to introduce AI into business . In fact, before the COVID-19 pandemic, the agenda for incorporating AI into the fabric of the nation was aggressively advanced. The UK is becoming a world leader in AI by investing resources in the creation of frameworks, boards and offices that ensure that the potential of AI is fully exploited.
About the Author
Fabio Torlini, MD EMEA at WP Engine.
Now that we are tackling the pandemic, companies are turning to AI and robotics to help compensate for lost revenue and layoffs. However, it is probably not the technology itself that will make the difference overnight, but rather the knowledge and creativity of the humans who use it, and as we seek to ensure that AI is deployed in a way responsible.
In an attempt to quantify the potential of AI applied to the Web, WP Engine commissioned an international study by researchers from the University of London and Vanson Bourne that explored the present and the near future of AI . We interviewed 200 IT decision makers in the UK and 1,000 UK consumers.
The potential of AI
The potential for AI is enormous, but a successful AI strategy must take into account the increasingly privacy-conscious consumer. 47.5% of UK companies said they did not know enough about AI to use it to solve business problems. Perhaps less surprisingly, UK consumers are quite similar, with 58% of consumers agreeing that everyone is talking about AI, but few really know what it is. This lack of understanding can be detrimental to organizational progress – as Joanna O'Connell, vice president, senior analyst at research firm Forrester, aptly put it, “buzzwords without real understanding can be problematic, if not downright dangerous. ”
When you harness the potential of AI in your business, it is essential to align them with your brand values and ethical structure. The degree of benefits that AI will bring to a business is intimately linked to the importance of ethical commitments to people and the environment in which they operate. AI helps brands align more effectively with their values. Rather than fear the massive transformation that AI seems to suggest, companies are now working methodically for incremental change and ensuring that AI is used when it makes sense, meeting consumers' desire for confidence and security with a deep understanding of what is at stake.
Through our research and conversations with experts, we have listed some recommended solutions below to help you gain competitive advantage by deploying AI-compatible tools.
Open your algorithms
AI-driven platforms are increasingly used to make lasting decisions, such as creating jobs, loans, or university admission. As a result, users are increasingly concerned about how algorithms make these decisions, as 92.7% of UK consumers believe it is very important that organizations are transparent about how companies use their data. to create personalized digital experiences.
The combined COVID-19 storm, the economic downturn and the global unrest are expected to accelerate these conversations. AI is already being tested to identify COVID-19 patients who will need intensive care before their condition worsens. Hospitals in China are using AI to diagnose pneumonia in COVID-19 cases, which could save countless lives. This data is openly shared with scientists around the world to help accelerate the ability to deliver a vaccine.
Companies should open source community, like the one where WordPress flourished, which offers huge benefits for building transparency and trust in the relationship between consumers and system designers. This does not mean giving your IP address or the code in which your teams have invested time and money; it means explaining to your client how it works and even giving them a chance to get involved.
Opening AI algorithms with a level of transparency similar to that of open source communities like WordPress in website development builds trust among a consumer base, and makes it visible how the system comes to its conclusions and recommendations .
Do not be evil
Our research has revealed that 85% of UK IT decision makers think their organizations use AI to make a positive impact on the world, but what does it look like in practice, as AI-based services belong growing to a small subset of global organizations? Google’s AI initiative, Project Maven, which has been operated by the U.S. military, makes it clear that AI services can potentially be used as weapons. The first discussions around the partnership raised the question: should your AI-based ethics extend beyond your own internal use and evaluation cases to those of your customers and applications?
COVID-19 raised privacy concerns with facial recognition software. Russia and China use AI facial recognition and heat sensors to track people with fever. This could be very useful in stemming the spread, but also raises deep-rooted issues regarding online data collection and storage, user consent, and mass surveillance.
Particularly in this report, we see agencies increasingly using AI to create meaningful and engaging digital experiences. As agencies become more involved in the implementation of artificial intelligence solutions, it is likely that agencies will develop entire offerings, as fundamental as corporate storytelling and branding audits, which help companies clarify their underlying set of values and safe use restrictions to guide AI implementations.
Beware of historical data sets
Many organizations have significant challenges with legacy systems and historical data structures. In this case, it is very convenient to use algorithms to identify the data of interest, as AI approaches can support the identification of frequently used data.
The legacy data problem recently came to the fore when Amazon's HR algorithm used 10 years of historic hiring practices to consider new candidates and revealed a bias against female applicants. Amazon quickly stopped the tool. Although it sounds antithetical, this experience should have been viewed as an opportunity. Revealing patterns of bias in historical data when you try to use this data to formulate future-oriented actions can inform strategic decision-making, which could change the way you operate depending on the flaws and models developed. over time.
With a black swan event like COVID-19, machine learning that works by identifying patterns in historical training data to model AI systems has yielded results that, in some cases, were completely invalid. This happened in a UK supermarket where humans had to step in to stop ordering online to allow the company to catch up to the surge in demand, similar to a DDOS attack.
These examples reinforce the need for organizations to question biases from the inside (81.5% of UK IT decision makers agreed that this was important) and in historical data sets (UK 79.5%). It is particularly relevant for supervised learning and machine learning datasets where the supervision process allows us to change the way we do things. It is an opportunity to create diverse and inclusive teams to maintain various voices of change and to better manage the crisis as well.
Use only what you need
The UK is in a unique position when it comes to data – with the recently completed Brexit, it is unclear whether the UK will continue to apply the extreme data regulations of the GDPR. Previous British policy was not as strong as the European policy that led to the GDPR, making it illegal to store data that has no specific and current use.
Our research indicates that 86% of consumers don't want organizations to follow data they don't need and an even higher percentage, 93% of UK consumers, said they expected organizations explain what they do with their data. What will happen in a post-Brexit UK? There are important implications for consumers and businesses.
In the COVID-19 crisis, China mobilized its mass surveillance tools, from drones to video surveillance cameras, to monitor quarantined people and follow the spread of the coronavirus as other countries have done. But privacy experts have worried about how governments use data, how long it is kept, and who has access to it.
Even with this debate, it is essential to be clear about the collection and use of data – current or future. The purpose and the intention in the design are central. Data should not be collected or applied without reasonable use in mind.
In the end, what I hope is clear from the study, it is not the technology itself that will make the difference in business, in government, in this crisis or the next. Rather, it is the knowledge, creativity and values of humans that use it.