AI ethics: Designing for trust

Katja Forbes

Katja is an Australian pioneer in the field of experience design and all its components.Back in 2014, Katja founded syfte, a specialist business in research and experience design acquired by Wipro in 2018. She was then appointed Australian MD of Designit. Katja was also a co-founding member of the Interaction Design Association Board (IxDA) in Sydney, helping build a community of over 1600 designers. Today, Katja is international director on IxDA’s global board. Katja is a sought-after speaker for organisations including Women In Design, Leaders in Heels, Women In Commerce, Code like a Girl, Telstra and Macquarie Bank. Katja was recognised as a Top 10 Australian Women Entrepreneurs 2018 by My Entrepreneur Magazine and one of the 100 Women of Influence by Westpac and the Australian Financial Review in 2016.

As artificial intelligence (AI) becomes much more prevalent and increasingly a way of life, more questions are being asked than answered about the ethical implications of its adoption.

For example, do humans have any moral obligations towards their machine? Do ‘robots’ or AI machines have any obligations of their own? And importantly, how do we build something consumers trust even though they can’t see it?

When designing for AI, therefore, a number of questions must be put forward to ensure your organisation and the designers behind the solution are creating a product of the best ethical standards in that situation.

For starters, customers want to be able to trust you have created something that fits as closely to their ethical values as possible. These may differ from that of the designer, so it’s important to communicate these before you begin, as well as during the design itself. Just as we trust a mechanic to fix our car’s engine, or a doctor to fix what is wrong with our organs, when it comes to AI, we need to trust the designer has designed something that is indeed ethical.

That’s because a great many things critical in our lives today are happening invisibly. Brands are becoming more and more opaque in the way they’re using data, in what they’re doing with data, in how they’re making these decisions and in how they’re delivering back to customers.

To place our trust in brands as consumers, therefore, we need to be convinced that when the technology was created, it was created by someone who asked the right questions.

At an organisational level, doing your research before contracting a company to build your AI tool is one way of finding the right designer. Microsoft, for example, is keen to share its own values so clients can make an informed decision to work with the company. Values such as transparency, reliability and inclusiveness are what Microsoft’s customers place an emphasis on. It’s by constantly exhibiting these values that Microsoft ensures its retains their trust.

We also do not want our bias to be reflected in the design itself. The problem with bias, however, is we often don’t know our opinions exhibit it.

One example often used to describe how difficult the dilemma can be is what happens if an AI car lost control and were to hit a baby if it swerved left, or an elderly person if it swerved right. A designer may program the car to always swerve towards the elderly person in such a situation. But this is a subjective, rather than objective, question. The client may feel the opposite is true.

It’s also the case AI is learning from human behaviour and stereotypes. An example is Microsoft’s Tay, a chatbot on Twitter that within 24 hours became riddled with sexist, racist, Nazi biases. Another failed AI experiment was Amazon’s AI for resume screening. Having been fed 10 years’ worth of data about the types of candidates the company liked – often men – the AI started screening out CVs with any reference to ‘women’ in it. Unable to fix it, Amazon pulled the bot.

So how is this resolved? Here are a few questions to help create useful and objective AI experiences*:

  • What data content needs to be collected and why?
  • How will any data be used?
  • Who owns the data once collected?
  • What impact do we want with the AI tool?
  • What KPIs do we need to measure this?
  • How will someone’s rights be affected?
  • How will this new AI affect working conditions?
  • How will this new AI affect human rights?
  • Have we taken all perspectives into account?
  • How does this AI create a magical experience for customers and employees?
  • Do we rely on any third-party services?
  • How are stakeholders’ interests dealt with?

By giving careful thought to these answers, you will have the best opportunity to create an AI tool or experience that takes the values of all stakeholders into account.

*Reference: Augmented Service Platform Canvas –Pontus Wärnestål, Associate Professor, Halmstad University

- This article originally appeared in CMO's print magazine, Issue 1, 2019.

Tags: design thinking, customer experience management, artificial intelligence

Show Comments

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2020

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

State of the CMO 2019

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at understanding how ...

More whitepapers

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Microsoft's Pip Arthur

​In this latest episode of our conversations over a cuppa with CMO, we catch up with the delightful Pip Arthur, Microsoft Australia's chief marketing officer and communications director, to talk about thinking differently, delivering on B2B connection in the crisis, brand purpose and marketing transformation.

More Videos

Great content and well explained. Everything you need to know about Digital Design, this article has got you covered. You may also check ...

Ryota Miyagi

Why the art of human-centred design has become a vital CX tool

Read more

Interested in virtual events? If you are looking for an amazing virtual booth, this is definitely worth checking https://virtualbooth.ad...

Cecille Pabon

Report: Covid effect sees digital events on the rise long-term

Read more

Thank you so much for sharing such an informative article. It’s really impressive.Click Here & Create Status and share with family

Sanwataram

Predictions: 14 digital marketing predictions for 2021

Read more

Nice!https://www.live-radio-onli...

OmiljeniRadio RadioStanice Uzi

Google+ and Blogger cozy up with new comment system

Read more

Awesome and well written article. The examples and elements are good and valuable for all brand identity designs. Speaking of awesome, ch...

Ryota Miyagi

Why customer trust is more vital to brand survival than it's ever been

Read more

Blog Posts

A Brand for social justice

In 2020, brands did something they’d never done before: They spoke up about race.

Dipanjan Chatterjee and Xiaofeng Wang

VP and principal analyst and senior analyst, Forrester

Determining our Humanity

‘Business as unusual’ is a term my organisation has adopted to describe the professional aftermath of COVID-19 and the rest of the tragic events this year. Social distancing, perspex screens at counters and masks in all manner of situations have introduced us to a world we were never familiar with. But, as we keep being reminded, this is the new normal. This is the world we created. Yet we also have the opportunity to create something else.

Katja Forbes

Managing director of Designit, Australia and New Zealand

Should your business go back to the future?

In times of uncertainty, people gravitate towards the familiar. How can businesses capitalise on this to overcome the recessionary conditions brought on by COVID? Craig Flanders explains.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

Sign in