Workers urged to monitor AI for bias

A new CBI report highlights how employers can involve employees in countering bias in artificial intelligence systems.

Laptop with code on the screen and a phone on a desk


Employees need to be more involved in attempts to ensure artificial intelligence is not biased against women, ethnic minorities and others, according to a CBI report.

The report says all employees need to be prepared for working in an environment that is rapidly changing and embrace a culture of lifelong learning and embed upskilling and that time and resources need to be designated for developers to think about the impact of their products and services. It adds that employers need to have processes for workers to raise ethical concerns and to use tools to test algorithms for unfair bias and take action to make data sets more inclusive.

The report says ethics need to be at the core of companies’ AI strategy and says employers should consider creating new principles or frameworks regarding AI, introduce human oversight of AI systems and check suppliers and customers align with their ethical principles.

It also calls for employers to be upfront about how their data is being used by informing customers when decisions are being taken by algorithms and taking steps to explain the factors that will impact on a decision, highlighting to customers when they are interacting with AI and building robust cyber security practices for general IT systems and AI products.

Felicity Burch, CBI Director of Digital and Innovation, said: “Ethics’ can be an intimidating word. But at the end of the day, meaningful ethics is similar to issues organisations already think about: effective governance, employee empowerment and customer engagement.

“The same actions that embed an ethical approach to AI will also make businesses more competitive. We know that diverse businesses are more likely to outperform their rivals. When it comes to AI, businesses who prioritise fairness and inclusion are more likely to create algorithms that make better decisions, giving them the edge.”

Meanwhile, research conducted by recruitment firm CWJobs has found that women working in the technology industry are subject to “staggering” levels of sexism. The poll of more than 500 women saw 50% of respondents say they had been told that being female would hold them back in their career, while one in four felt they were denied promotions due to their gender.


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