AI development has exceeded our expectations. There is no doubt, that before our eyes is taking place the fourth industrial revolution. However, the adoption of data-driven systems brings with it many challenges. One of them is solving ethical dilemmas.
We all agree that AI has the ability to enrich our everyday life. In fact, it’s already doing it. Our job is to ensure that AI benefits our society as a whole and nobody is biased. In this regard, it should be noted that AI service providers are primarily entities. Therefore, it is extremely important to effectively integrate ethics into the organization of technological companies.
Unfortunately, history shows that the integration of ethics and the introduction of new legal regulations are usually a reaction to past disasters. One such catastrophe was doubtless Facebook-Cambridge Analytica Scandal. It provided a lesson not only for Facebook users but also for world governments and managers. My article focuses on this “ethics lesson” from a business perspective.
“Only a fool learns from his own mistakes. The wise man learns from the mistakes of others.” – Otto von Bismarck
Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal
The Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal was amongst one of the most heavily publicized data breaches of 2018. According to Facebook estimates, about 87 million people were affected. Could you imagine? That’s about 4 million more than the population of Germany. You’ve probably wondered yourself if your data was stolen too.
Losses incurred by Facebook users are one side of the coin. This story shows, among other things, the risks involved in using artificial intelligence. In the case of Facebook, they turned into concrete losses.
The Facebook case emphasizes above all, how significant the legal risk is. It is enough to recall Mark Zuckerberg’s testimony before congress. The case has a wider scope. In 2018 DC attorney general accused Facebook of misrepresenting its policies around third-party data access and compromising user privacy with lax protections. Two months ago he announced, that he had added Mark Zuckerberg as a defendant in his lawsuit against Facebook. Moreover, Facebook is being sued for misuse of information from almost one million users in England and Wales.
Many people say that reputation is the most important thing to a business owner. The trust of customers, contractors, and shareholders depends on it. It’s just to mention that after the scandal broke and after the testimony of Zuckerberg, trust in Facebook has dropped by 66 percent. This was also reflected in stock prices, which declined a sharp drop.
World after Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal
It’s hard to say that the business world got better after Cambridge Analytica. Problems connected with ethical issues cannot be solved as if by magic. Building ethical AI requires building appropriate structures and raising awareness among business leaders.
A proactive rather than reactive approach is a must when it comes to building ethical AI. This can be seen in the decisions of the largest technology companies. Microsoft, Facebook, Twitter, Google – all of them have formed ethics groups in their organizations. Although, as Timnit Gebru’s case shows it is only the beginning of the road.
One is certain: anticipation is better than solving problems “On-the-fly”.