Two of Deutsche Telekom’s most important goals are to keep being a trusted companion and to enhance customer experience.
We see it as our responsibility as one of the leading ICT companies in Europe to foster the development of “intelligent technologies”. At least either important, these technologies, such as AI, must follow predefined ethical rules.
To define a corresponding ethical framework, firstly it needs a common understanding on what AI means. Today there are several definitions of AI, like the very first one of John McCarthy (1956) “Every aspect of learning or any other feature of intelligence can in principle be so precisely described that a machine can be made to simulate it.” In line with other companies and main players in the field of AI we at DT think of AI as the imitation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems. These processes include learning, reasoning, and self correction.
After several decades, Artificial Intelligence has become one of the most intriguing topics of today – and the future. It has become widespread available and is discussed not only among experts but also more and more in public, politics, etc.. AI has started to influence business (new market opportunities as well as efficiency driver), society (e.g. broad discussion about autonomously driving vehicles or AI as “job machine” vs. “job killer”) and the life of each individual (AI already found its way into the living room, e.g. with voice steered digital assistants like smart speakers).
But the use of AI and its possibilities confront us not only with fast developing technologies but as well as with the fact that our ethical roadmaps, based on human human interactions, might not be sufficient in this new era of technological influence. New questions arise and situations that were not imaginable in our daily lives then emerge.
We as DT also want to develop and make use of AI. This technology can bring many benefits based on improving customer experience or simplicity. We are already in the game, e.g having several AI related projects running. With these comes an increase of digital responsibility on our side to ensure that AI is utilized in an ethical manner. So we as DT have to give answers to our customers, shareholders and stakeholders.
The following Digital Ethics guidelines state how we as Deutsche Telekom want to build the future with AI. For us, technology serves one main purpose: It must act supportingly. Thus AI is in any case supposed to extend and complement human abilities rather than lessen them.
Remark: The impact of AI on DT jobs – may it as a benefit and for value creation in the sense of job enrichment and enlargement or may it in the sense of efficiency is however not focus of these guidelines.
2. We care.
We act in tune with our company values. Our systems and solutions must subordinate to humandefined rules and laws. Therefore, in addition to our technical requirements, our systems and solutions have to obey the rules and laws that we as Deutsche Telekom, our employees – and human beings as such – follow.
AI systems have to meet the same high technical requirements as any other IT system of ours, such as security, robustness, etc. But since AI will be (and already is) a great part of our everyday lives, even guiding us in several areas, AI systems and their usage also have to comply with our company values (Deutsche Telekom’s Guiding Principles and Code of Conduct), ethical values, and societal conventions. We have to make sure of that.
9. We share and enlighten.
We acknowledge the transformative power of AI for our society. We will support people and society in preparing for this future world. We live our digital responsibility by sharing our knowledge, pointing out the opportunities of the new technology without neglecting its risks. We will engage with our customers, other companies, policy makers, education institutions and all other stakeholders to ensure we understand their concerns and needs and can setup the right safeguards. We will engage in AI and ethics education. Hereby preparing ourselves, our colleagues and our fellow human beings for the new tasks ahead.
Many tasks that are being executed by humans now will be automated in the future. This leads to a shift in the demand of skills. Jobs will be reshaped, rather replaced by AI. While this seems certain, the minority knows what exactly AI technology is capable of achieving. Prejudice and sciolism lead to either demonization of progress or to blind acknowledgment, both calling for educational work. We as Deutsche Telekom feel responsible to enlighten people and help society to deal with the digital shift, so that new appropriate skills can be developed and new jobs can be taken over. And we start from within – by enabling our colleagues and employees. But we are aware that this task cannot be solved by one company alone. Therefore we will engage in partnerships with other companies, offer our know how to policy makers and education providers to jointly tackle the challenges ahead.
1.1 Responsible Design and Deployment
Published by: Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) in AI Policy Principles
We recognize our responsibility to integrate principles into the design of AI technologies, beyond compliance with existing laws. While the potential benefits to people and society are amazing, AI researchers, subject matter experts, and stakeholders should and do spend a great deal of time working to ensure the responsible design and deployment of AI systems. Highly autonomous AI systems must be designed consistent with international conventions that preserve human dignity, rights, and freedoms. As an industry, it is our responsibility to recognize potentials for use and misuse, the implications of such actions, and the responsibility and opportunity to take steps to avoid the reasonably predictable misuse of this technology by committing to ethics by design.
4. We strive for transparency and integrity in all that we do
Our systems are held to specific standards in accordance with their level of technical ability and intended usage. Their input, capabilities, intended purpose, and limitations will be communicated clearly to our customers, and we provide means for oversight and control by customers and users. They are, and will always remain, in control of the deployment of our products. We actively support industry collaboration and will conduct research to further system transparency.
We operate with integrity through our code of business conduct, our internal AI Ethics Steering Committee, and our external AI Ethics Advisory Panel.