Artificial intelligence is already being used to address big challenges like climate change, world economic crises, global hunger, and aging populations, but how can AI benefit us as individuals in our roles as citizens, parents, caregivers, and advocates? How can it support those who are most vulnerable?
Today’s pioneers in AI technology recognize that tackling the world’s big challenges and people’s personal obstacles requires both machine intelligence and human brainpower. It is not either-or. It’s about augmented intelligence, not artificial, and it offers great hope and opportunity. To proceed ethically, AI must be handled in a principled and responsible manner.
As with every new advancement in technology, when ethical principles are applied, all benefit.
For instance, to support individuals dealing with mental health challenges, IBM is collaborating on an instant messaging chatbot that will connect military and adult family members to a mental wellness solution. The chatbot engages with the client to understand their issue and provide supportive responses. When clinically serious, it will hand off to a human counselor for guidance and referral.
The application, called #Here4U Military Version, is enabled by the IBM Watson cognitive platform, and is being done in partnership with Queen’s University and the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research and IBM.
Additionally, IBM is working with HR services company Morneau Shepell on a solution to help people in distress. Ava is a newly launched chatbot IBM Canada designed to guide people to mental wellness resources and services when they have questions about their own mental wellness.
In most workplaces, the main impediment people experience isn’t lack of services, but how to gain knowledge of and access to available help. Whether someone is suffering from PTSD or in a stressful work situation, this AI app helps people overcome their self and societal stigmas as they search for available help channels. The goal is to make sure that many options are available to enable more people to get help sooner.
As AI technology grows and our ability to harness the available data expands, we will see more examples like #Here4U that offer tremendous advantages for society and our individual lives. As with every new advancement in technology, when ethical principles are applied, all benefit.
To that end, IBM has developed three principles – purpose, transparency, and skills – that guide how we use AI, and these offer a guide for others to consider.
The purpose of AI and cognitive systems must be to augment human intelligence. Technology, products, services, and policies should enhance and extend human capability, expertise, and potential. These systems will be embedded in the products, services, and processes which make society function and improve people’s lives, but they will always remain within human control.
We all need to have confidence that AI will be used responsibly.
We all need to have confidence that AI will be used responsibly, and understand how data the purpose for data collection and how it will be used to train AI systems. Individual and organizational data and insights must be protected, and everyone in the ecosystem should be encouraged to support the privacy and integrity of data.
Students, workers, and citizens need opportunities to acquire the skills and knowledge needed to interact safely, securely, and effectively with AI systems. The societal and economic benefits of this cognitive era depend upon the engagement and support of people who will perform the new types of jobs that emerge.
As we discover new ways that AI will address global and individual challenges, it is crucial that society wrestle with guiding principles for the ethical use of this technology. Business leaders have a responsibility to lead that discussion.