It’s the responsibility of government, business, consumers and academics to work together to ensure artificial intelligence and automation are developed with ethics and diversity. This is according to a group of cloud and automation experts that recently gathered to talk about AI and Automation at UKFast Campus in Manchester.
Automation has the potential to bring £630bn to the UK economy, offering real opportunities for social development. However, with one in five jobs at risk, there remains concern from pressure groups and the technology industry over both the changing role of humans in the workforce and the lack of cultural diversity among those developing AI technologies.
The following comments were made at the panel discussion on cloud and automation at UKFast Campus.
Sue Daley, Head of Cloud and Automation at techUK said, “we need to realise that the nature of many jobs is changing due to automation and AI, so it’s critical that we’re discussing the opportunities they bring as well as looking at the risks. Change brings disruption and concern, and many organisations are going through a culture change due to developing technology.
“It’s vital to have a balanced discussion on the impact of AI on the workforce; freeing up the IT department of labour-intensive tasks to do more creative, value-added roles should be seen as a positive, but we need to prepare for it together.”
Lawrence Jones, CEO of UKFast said, “what machines can never do is bring this human element, so it’s vital for technology to work alongside humans to deliver greater efficiency and ultimately it’s up to business leaders to instil that.
“We also have a responsibility to ensure AI works for people from every background and culture, and that fairness and equality is built into the very foundations of machine learning systems to avoid bias. If the people building these systems are exclusively white, male and from western backgrounds then there’s a problem.”
Rachel Furla, Project Manager and Digital Coach at Organise Choas added, “we are over-occupied and we work more hours than many other countries. We’re not talking about losing jobs, we’re talking about a larger sector of the population working four days a week and letting the machines do the rest of the busy work. That’s a real positive element of the digital ethics debate.
“We have an inherent fear of change, so the key is education and understanding. When we think of automation people’s minds go to fear and disruption, they don’t see that how automation and machine learning is used in their everyday lives already.”