You are here
Ethical AI: Q&A with Lord Holmes
Discussions around the progression of artificial intelligence (AI) – and more importantly its future – have dominated headlines around the world in recent years, and with good reason. Still a relatively nascent area of technology, its potential is almost limitless in terms of the way it could fundamentally change the way many of us live – from how we do business to how health care is deployed and managed. Whilst some have scare-mongered that the ‘rise of the robots’ will put millions of jobs at risk as more and more tasks are automated, others have chosen to focus on the limitless potential for progress and the way AI could improve and augment the lives of billions around the world. However, there is unarguably an ethical debate at play, particularly around the management of data and how it’s used and managed by those deploying the latest AI technologies.
To find out more about the latest thinking around this cutting-edge technology, Page Executive invited Lord Holmes to speak at our recent Annual Dinner at the Banking Hall in London. Lord Holmes was a member of the House of Lords ad hoc Select Committee on Artificial Intelligence, which recently published a wide-ranging report in this area, titled AI in the UK: Ready, Willing and Able? Perfectly placed to offer insights on the economic, ethical and social implications of advances in AI, Lord Holmes captivated our guests with his thought-provoking keynote speech.
Click above to view a video from the night and read on for a Q&A with Lord Holmes about the opportunities and challenges of AI - including what we can learn from Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator…
How are we already seeing AI being implemented?
Lord Holmes: “As you can imagine with any new technology, the implementation, adoption and deployment of AI is still very much at an early stage. But in law, for example, you're seeing a lot about around RegTech smart contracts. In manufacturing you’re seeing changes to the supply chain and product. I think the key for any organisation or for any business is to pick something and get that proof of concept off the ground. What will come from that is the confidence to work with AI to demystify it and then to be able to mainstream it through that business or organisation.”
In which industries do you see British firms taking the lead when it comes to AI?
“The UK's got a phenomenal opportunity in AI. If you listen to the doomsayers you'd imagine there's no opportunity at all but the truth is we have a niche to go at. The United States will focus on the internet of things, whilst Germany will make incredibly smart cars and China and Russia will do a lot in cyber. We have a real opportunity to be world-beating in ethical AI, not least in the fields of law, finance, biotech and research to name but a few.”
What would you see as being the biggest obstacles to the further expansion of AI?
“Probably the biggest obstacle to the massive rollout and deployment of AI in the UK is the sense of public comfort and confidence. AI has been around a long time here - we had the Turing test coined in 1950, the test as to whether you could tell whether you were dealing with a human or a computer. Yet so much of the journey has been told [through the narrative of] fear ever, since Arnie [Arnold Schwarzenegger starring in the film The Terminator] wanted more than our jacket, our boots and our bike. Why not be rationally positive about the opportunities the AI can create? To get that narrative out there what we need is a public debate to engage people. There's a need for public perception to be quite carefully managed.”
How can business leaders make sure they’re presenting an acceptable face of AI data?
“We need business leaders and individuals to be not just digitally understanding but really data literate. Think about what we recently saw with Facebook. On one level, you could say ‘well, what did we think they were doing - if you are receiving a service for free you're not the consumer you're the product’. Facebook, Apple, Google, Amazon have a larger market cap than all of the FTSE 100 and yet, in reality, the only product they have is our data. We need businesses and individuals to be smart about data - to understand it and be prepared to get into aggregation trades around it. Without that understanding, we will continue to see difficulties and potentially people and organisations retreating from the opportunities which AI offers.”
What are the ethical issues around AI, particularly around data and individuals’ privacy?
“One of the most significant tasks for all of us when it comes to AI is how we deal with data - how we understand it, how we marshal it, how we regulate it and how we legislate around it. What, for example, should governments do about the huge data monopolies which now exist? We all have a smartphone in our hand but it's the size of our data footprint that we should be really cognisant of - data is an infinite product, which is phenomenal.”
Finally, why is education so important around AI?
“The education piece is critical. In China at the moment, every person who is a business leader is sent on AI digital technology training to have a really significant level of understanding of these issues. We need it in every element, right from primary school all the way through. It's not about teaching people to code necessarily – though [schemes such as] code club are a good example of one element - it's more about empowering and enabling individuals at every stage of their life journey to have the ability, adaptability, grit, resilience and flexibility to operate and navigate through this world.”
As the pace of advancement in AI accelerates, the debate around the economics and ethics of a world increasingly controlled by machines will only intensify further. It remains to be seen the true effect that AI will have on the job market in general – how many roles will be replaced or which ones will fundamentally change. When it comes to recruitment, whilst AI can augment processes, whether that’s better matching candidates to jobs or helping talent develop new skills, it’s our belief that nothing will ever truly replace human to human interaction in selecting the right talent, building teams and ultimately driving businesses forward.
To find out more about our upcoming events or to have a conversation about your recruitment challenges, contact Page Executive by clicking here.
T: +44 (0)20 7269 2591
M: +44 07880 722947
T: +44 (0)20 7776 5959
M: +44 (0)7973 117824