AI in companies: Building trust for successful adoption

Denelise L'Ecluse, British Standards Institution
Whether mobile networking, autonomous driving, or virtual realities - technological development is making a decisive contribution to changing our lives for the better and increasing digital participation. Digital transformation has significantly accelerated the pace of change and progress in society, and not just since the pandemic. It is digital technologies that bring solutions to some of the biggest challenges we face in the world today.
A key technology leading this transformation is Artificial Intelligence (AI), which is no longer new or in a seemingly distant future. Already today, AI is part of our lives, with hundreds of touchpoints throughout our day. However, even if AI may already be considered established, we must not fail to consider existing reservations while countering them with its usefulness. For example, chatbots based on AI have been perceived with skepticism by many users for a long time. Just think of the early, user-unfriendly bots that annoyed people even more than waiting in a telephone queue. Most recently, ChatGPT has illustrated how a powerful and elaborated algorithm can convince a wider mass of people of the meaningfulness of AI. 
As is often the case with the development and introduction of new technologies, the use of AI is characterized by euphoria and respect on the one hand and fear on the other. This is due not least to negative examples that people and organizations have experienced, such as partially automated recruiting processes based on AI. Today, it is clear that technology must be inclusive. Unfortunately, it often is not. 
How technology is misused
We should realize that our society is biased. People are often biased, whether consciously or unconsciously.  We also need to realize that this means our data and its interpretation can be biased. Faulty data and the way people use it have consequences. There is a danger of actually increasing existing societal problems instead of using new technologies to solve them. It is therefore intrinsically important and central to technological and societal success that we are aware of the ethical implications when developing technology further. 
This also applies to AI in particular. AI should be designed to reflect the society in which we live and want to live - instead of reinforcing existing prejudices through flawed data or biased interpretation. 
A positive example from a business perspective is if we bring a diverse group of people together in a team in an environment that accepts or even encourages diversity, the power of creativity almost inevitably unfolds. It is only when there is the freedom to bring in different perspectives and backgrounds of experience and to express different opinions that organizations experience how innovative they can be.
The prerequisite for this is an inclusive organizational culture that gives different people an equal footing.
The need for inclusive technology
To ensure that we use technology inclusively and for the right purpose, we need to take precautions.  We need to take steps to mitigate or remove biased data. Similarly, we need to encourage people - including developers of AI solutions, for example - to consider the inclusive element when developing technology.
The goal is clear: We need to take care that new technology is scrutinized, and then embraced. We need to make sure that new technology and its promotion can counter reservations and concerns by educating people while highlighting successful cases where AI has made a big difference. There are numerous examples of these, such as in the areas of health, education and climate.
In practice, organizations must continue to review all their processes for inclusivity, especially in technological developments and applications - to ensure that technology is built to serve the needs of society, not to harm humanity. This a mundane but important prerequisite for using technology to solve the biggest challenges we face in the world today.
We need to be bold and make courageous decisions. Most importantly, we need to direct our technological efforts to the right things. Along with the necessary due diligence, we can build confidence that AI and predictive tech can positively reinforce human intelligence rather than being a threat. In this way, technology becomes an enabler - our best tool for creating the very society we all want to live in.
Inclusion through trust. Trust through standards.
At present, it is primarily the speed of technological developments that places high demands on us humans. It is imperative that we maintain the momentum of digital transformation, which was accelerated once again during the pandemic. This makes it even more important for organizations not to neglect possible reservations. Reliable standards help with this.
AI is already shaping our world and will increasingly do so in the coming years. By setting positive examples and overcoming reservations, organizations should feel encouraged not to settle for the status quo, but to embrace AI further. Technology can help solve the world's biggest problems faster. That starts with trust. Just as humanity cannot function without trust, the same is true for technology. Reliable standards, for example on inclusion and the correct, ethical use of data, help us achieve this. Reliable standards generate trust and create the acceptance with which technologies like AI can be successful.
Author details:
Denelise L'Ecluse joined the British Standards Institution (BSI) in 2020 as Managing Director of Europe. Together with the NPL (National Physical Laboratory), BSI is supporting the piloting of the AI Standards Hub - an initiative to lead the design of global standards for AI and part of the UK's national AI strategy.