Companies should think carefully about whether AI is the best solution to their problems and invest in audits to avoid unfair, biased and inefficient results, according to Gemma Galdón-Clavell, executive director of Eticas Tech.
“There are so many examples of moments where I think, ‘Why? Why do you think AI is useful for this?” says the leading AI auditor.
Did you know that, according to Eurostat, 8% of EU companies use artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in 2021? Of them, 53% had purchased off-the-shelf AI systems and business intelligence software.
Denmark had the most companies using AI, accounting for around 24%, while Romania and Serbia had the fewest, around 1% each.
Most companies used artificial intelligence in the communication and information sector. Companies that are betting on AI believe that it helps in data analysis, content creation and language translation, among others. However, companies opposed to AI mostly felt that it was irrelevant to them, expensive, unreliable and increased privacy risks.
In this episode of The Big Question, Angela Barnes sat down with Gemma Galdón-Clavell, CEO of artificial intelligence company Eticas Tech, to discuss whether the use of artificial intelligence is ethical and where we should avoid its use.
What is AI good for?
According to Clavell, “AI is many things at the same time. Understanding what AI does is crucial to getting the most out of it.” This can make it difficult to determine what the technology may be most useful for, especially if many companies want to use it for several different things at once.
As such, companies need to really think about the problems they want to solve and then consider whether AI is the best solution. Essentially, AI is a data process that is best at providing solutions to problems that have massive amounts of historical data.
This includes online shopping and streaming recommendations based on search history, customer viewing data, ratings, and location, among other things. AI is also used for global positioning systems (GPS), which can access years, if not decades, of location and movement history of millions of users across multiple cities. Chatbots are another example, in addition to predictive text messages.
However, for unique problems or those that do not have access to much historical data, “AI is not your friend”says Clavell.
Gemma also advises that it’s not just about how to use AI, but the importance of choosing good quality AI software.
“If we just buy an AI package and implement it and trust that things will go well, we will be making a mistake. And that is very expensive,” highlights Clavell.
Is the use of AI ethical?
One of the biggest concerns regarding AI is that it uses such an immense amount of personal and behavioral data. data about how people live, work and relate to others.
Not only does this raise huge security and privacy concerns, it can also mean that AI conclusions can often be biased or unfairly biased, as well as inefficient.
Reliance on historical data can also be a problem in many scenarios, causing unfair exclusions and prejudicesoften without humans even realizing they are happening.
As Clavell explains, “if in a bank, past data reflects that your ideal client is a man with a stable job. AI tends to reproduce that. And so, on the first day they will discriminate against women, and on the tenth day they will only grant mortgages to men with stable jobs.”
However, one of the key solutions to identifying and mitigating discrimination is to audit AI packages and services, as well as clinical trials for vaccines.
He points out that not doing so would be like “receiving a vaccine that did not go through clinical trials, buying a car without a seat belt, buying a house without paperwork.”
At the end of the day, “we don’t want discriminatory AI,” says Clavell.
How can we improve AI?
Clavell highlights that one of the key ways to improve AI is to not only theorize but also implement audits and other precautionary and governance measures. As such, while Europe is very good at coming up with regulations, such as the Digital Services LawThe United States is much better at implementing them.
“Interestingly, even with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) which was approved in 2016, the company that made the most money with that regulatory change is a company based in Texas, […] that is now worth 5 billion,” says Gemma.
“I fear that with the AI Act, the EU will lead the way on regulation, but the part of the market that will make the most of the opportunities created by regulation will not be in Europe, or many things would have to change. “For me, Europe plays a leading role not only at the regulatory level but also at the market level.”
The milestone AI Law has recently been launched in the EU, with the aim of becoming a pioneer in AI regulation. The law will also seek to establish a strong legal framework for AI regulations in all EU member countries, ensuring that the technologies are secure and do not violate privacy laws and values. However, at the same time, the law will also attempt to attract more AI investments to the continent.
According to Statista, the EU had around 6,000 AI companies in 2023, which was still far behind the UK, with 9,000, and the US, with around 15,000.
Other ways to improve AI are to provide it with better and more up-to-date data, which in turn will also allow it to take into account more factors and variables. In the absence of real data, synthetic data or hypothetical cases can also be used to simulate scenarios and provide more context to AI tools.
Improvements can also be made to the algorithm to ensure that companies do not filter out the wrong customers or employees. This can be done by removing data parameters that are often unnecessary.
However, Clavell warns that until we include auditing in legislation “as a society, we will have no guarantees that the AI around us is of good quality.”
The great question is a Euronews Business series in which we sit down with industry leaders and experts to discuss some of the biggest issues on the current agenda.
Watch the video above to watch the full episode with Gemma Galdón-Clavell now.