Involve staff in AI projects, urges CBI

British firms are being urged to take "an ethical approach" to the adoption of artificial intelligence and involve staff in the way AI is changing their businesses

AI head illustration
A report from the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) on Thursday said that AI was transforming the way Britons live and work, and would affect most sectors of the economy by 2021.The survey pointed to a recent PwC study that estimated that, thanks to AI, UK gross domestic product could be up to 10% higher in 2030, equivalent to an additional £232 billion.

What can employers do to empower employees?

"But businesses face key ethical issues from how to empower employees in a fast-changing workplace to explaining complex algorithmic decisions to customers," said the CBI.The report called on businesses to consider three priorities:
  • Embed: update governance processes or develop new frameworks specifically for AI, for example ethics boards that have the authority to make impactful recommendations or decisions
  • Engage: empower staff to engage with AI technology, challenge unfair bias in data and ensure teams designing the technology are diverse
  • Explain: make sure consumers know when decisions are taken by AI and how their data is being used to make decisions
Felicity Burch, CBI director of digital and innovation, said, “At a time of slowing global growth, AI could add billions of pounds to the UK economy and transform our stuttering productivity performance.

AI: an ethical approach

“The government has set the right tone by establishing the Centre for Data Ethics & Innovation, but it’s up to business to put ethics into practice.“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.“With the global tech race heating up, the UK is well placed to lead the world in developing ethical AI, which uses data safely and drives progress in business and society.”

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