4IR advancements are getting more accessible, and its implications to business are evident, amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic. Its changes can be felt by consumers to manufacturers to cities and potentially whole economies, primarily through productivity gains in various sectors.
The recently released National Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) Policy identifies AI as one of the 5 foundational 4IR technologies which presents both great potential, but also significant risks.
There is a clear need for organisations to harness the power of AI in an ethical and responsible manner to be able to realise its intended benefits.
Committed to pursuing balanced, responsible and sustainable growth, the Policy underscores the need for the private sector to help champion change and execute meaningful and equitable initiatives to impact the rakyat, and move the economy up the value chain.
With the growing emphasis on digital transformation within the private sector, organisations are in a unique position to not only adopt digital solutions, but to develop innovative businesses, functions, processes and infrastructure to address economic, social and environmental challenges. With their clout, there are opportunities for businesses to co-create and collaborate in new partnership models by leveraging 4IR platforms, ecosystems and digital marketplaces.
These are some ways to achieve the outcomes envisioned in the Policy by 2030, which includes increasing investments in 4IR-enabling infrastructure and the number of homegrown 4IR technology providers.
We observe increasing applicability of AI to benefit a range of industries like financial services, healthcare and pharma, industrial products, retail consumer, and telecom, media and tech, especially in the wake of the pandemic.
Top five in the list of AI applications cited as important in 2021, according to PwC’s 2021 AI Predictions survey are:
Managing risk, fraud and cybersecurity threats
Improving AI ethics, explainability and bias detection
Helping employees make better decisions
Analysing scenarios using simulation modelling
Automating routine tasks
Organisations need to understand the risks of AI, and how these could, on a more macro level, impact society or result in ethical concerns if misused (refer to visual for an illustration). Upskilling and training their employees to deploy AI responsibly is essential.
AI affects human beings on a very personal level, such as the use of autonomous vehicles where passengers need to trust their lives to a machine. Without proper measures to safeguard against risks, this could lead to algorithms that condone racial or gender bias, for instance, in the area of recruitment or customer service, or even influence political results. Organisations will need to properly understand the frameworks and guidance on using AI responsibly.
As organisations start to adopt AI, they need to be aware of certain barriers that may complicate technology implementation.
Being aware of emerging AI regulation to govern the use of AI is only one part of the equation in mitigating risks. They will also need to look inwards and challenge any siloes in their approach to AI and data governance, and assess if their workforce has the necessary skills critical to AI adoption.
Here are 3 steps organisations can take to build greater trust in AI.
To govern the use of AI, ensure that all stakeholders are involved. This means the team tasked with overseeing governance should comprise representatives from various areas of the business, including leadership, procurement, compliance, human resources, technology and data experts, and process owners from different functions.
If there is an existing governance structure in place, you may extend it by adopting a three lines of defence risk management model.
Ensure that you have the right AI policies, standards, controls, tests and monitoring for all risk aspects of AI.
Having a common AI playbook may serve as a ‘how to’ guide for approaching new AI initiatives to build trust in this technology. It may be helpful to guide how you collaborate and discuss risks based on your goals, while identifying the level of rigour required to address risks based on their severity.
Keep the momentum going as you familiarise yourself with AI and learn how to manage the risks. Observing good governance and risk management may not necessarily slow you down in this regard. The right level of explainability, for example, will depend on each AI model’s level of risk and required accuracy levels, allowing for quicker progress in some areas than others.
You may be starting out on your AI journey or you may need answers to your board’s questions on how AI is governed. Regardless of your maturity level, there is a way to navigate your journey to engender trust and inspire confidence in the technology, among your stakeholders, both internally and externally.
Find out how PwC’s Responsible AI Toolkit can enable and support the assessment and development of Responsible AI across your organisation. It is scalable and can be tailored to your unique business requirements and level of AI maturity, to help you develop transparent, explainable and ethical AI applications.