Artificial Intelligence and being responsible in the 'bionic era'

Artificial Intelligence has the potential to supercharge growth, but without clean, relevant, and labelled data - and the workforce to harness this - organisations are stymied in their efforts to move aggressively on AI.

CEOs overwhelmingly say AI will significantly impact their business within the next five years (86%), and almost three-quarters (73%) believe it will be good for society. But that doesn’t mean they are prepared to sit in the back seat of an autonomous vehicle just yet.

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Despite their bullish views the majority of organisations in Australia and countries like the UK, US and Canada have not introduced AI initiatives on a grand scale. Only 6% of Australian CEOs have wide-scale or fundamental use of AI in their organisations, while only 29% have plans to introduce AI in the next three years.

CEOs will need to move from experimenting on the fringes to using responsible AI in wide-scale applications across the organisation. It’s the companies that are able to find the optimal fusing of people and machines - and do this responsibly - that will benefit most in what is becoming the bionic era.

Future direction of regulation

As the use of AI grows, questions are being raised about how and to what extent the technology should be regulated.

Australia's business leaders have mixed opinions. About one in two (52%) believe governments should allow organisations to self-regulate, while on the other hand, more than three quarters think governments should develop a national strategy and policies for AI.

CEOs need to continue their focus on making sure AI is used responsibly: just because it’s legal, doesn’t mean it’s OK. Considering these five critical areas will help ensure that AI leads to good outcomes for your customers and your business.

  1. Is the AI unbiased? Is it fair? AI learns from data so that data must be representative of the real world. Both the data and algorithms that drive AI models need to be assessed for biases.
  2. Is the AI interpretable, explainable and transparent? Much of what goes on inside AI technology is hidden from view. To create trust, organisations must be able to make their AI transparent and explainable to people.
  3. Is the AI robust and secure? Like other technology systems, AI needs to be protected from cyber attacks. It also requires validation, monitoring and maintenance to ensure it's working as it should.
  4. Is the AI appropriately governed? AI systems must be subject to rigorous governance and audit. And because AI often operates in silos, accountability needs to be enterprise-wide.
  5. Is the AI legal, ethical and moral? AI can reach deeply into people's lives. Organisations must use AI in a way that both aligns with corporate values and meets societal expectations.

Impact on workforces

PwC estimates suggest that there will be a net creation of jobs as a result of new technologies, including AI. Though the current AI skills gap is one factor stalling progress, fixing it is not only a matter of hiring or developing AI specialists and data scientists. It is equally important to cultivate a workforce ready to use AI-based systems and to foster customers and citizens who can recognise and practice good data management and self-protection.

There will also be a need to consider the impact as workforces adjust to the disruption. The majority of CEOs (80%) disagree that governments should intentionally slow down the replacement of workers by AI to avoid widespread job displacement, though 47% believe governments should provide a safety net to people displaced by AI.

The benefits of using AI are significant. But CEOs need to make sure all stakeholders - customers, regulators and employees - are part of the journey too.

Contact us

Matt Kuperholz

Partner, Chief Data Scientist, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (3) 8603 1274

Adam Lai

Partner, Marketing, Sales & Service GTM Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 6388

Scott Gillespie

National Thought Leadership Leader, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 2 8266 3229

Kieran McCann

National Thought Leadership Manager, PwC Australia

Tel: +61 (2) 8266 0252

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