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.
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. The purpose of AI is to augment human intelligence
The purpose of AI and cognitive systems developed and applied by IBM is to augment – not replace – human intelligence. Our technology is and will be designed to enhance and extend human capability and potential. At IBM, we believe AI should make ALL of us better at our jobs, and that the benefits of the AI era should touch the many, not just the elite few. To that end, we are investing in initiatives to help the global workforce gain the skills needed to work in partnership with these technologies.
For the first time in human history, it is possible to create autonomous systems capable of performing complex tasks of which natural intelligence alone was thought capable: processing large quantities of information, calculating and predicting, learning and adapting responses to changing situations, and recognizing and classifying objects. Given the immaterial nature of these tasks, and by analogy with human intelligence, we designate these wide ranging systems under the general name of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence constitutes a major form of scientific and technological progress, which can generate considerable social benefits by improving living conditions and health, facilitating justice, creating wealth, bolstering public safety, and mitigating the impact of human activities on the environment and the climate. Intelligent machines are not limited to performing better calculations than human beings; they can also interact with sentient beings, keep them company and take care of them.
However, the development of artificial intelligence does pose major ethical challenges and social risks. Indeed, intelligent machines can restrict the choices of individuals and groups, lower living standards, disrupt the organization of labor and the job market, influence politics, clash with fundamental rights, exacerbate social and economic inequalities, and affect ecosystems, the climate and the environment. Although scientific progress, and living in a society, always carry a risk, it is up to the citizens to determine the moral and political ends that give meaning to the risks encountered in an uncertain world.
The lower the risks of its deployment, the greater the benefits of artificial intelligence will be. The first danger of artificial intelligence development consists in giving the illusion that we can master the future through calculations. Reducing society to a series of numbers and ruling it through algorithmic procedures is an old pipe dream that still drives human ambitions. But when it comes to human affairs, tomorrow rarely resembles today, and numbers cannot determine what has moral value, nor what is socially desirable.
The principles of the current declaration are like points on a moral compass that will help guide the development of artificial intelligence towards morally and socially desirable ends. They also offer an ethical framework that promotes internationally recognized human rights in the fields affected by the rollout of artificial intelligence. Taken as a whole, the principles articulated lay the foundation for cultivating social trust towards artificially intelligent systems.
The principles of the current declaration rest on the common belief that human beings seek to grow as social beings endowed with sensations, thoughts and feelings, and strive to fulfill their potential by freely exercising their emotional, moral and intellectual capacities. It is incumbent on the various public and private stakeholders and policymakers at the local, national and international level to ensure that the development and deployment of artificial intelligence are compatible with the protection of fundamental human capacities and goals, and contribute toward their fuller realization. With this goal in mind, one must interpret the proposed principles in a coherent manner, while taking into account the specific social, cultural, political and legal contexts of their application.
3. Reward AI for ‘showing its workings’
Any AI system learning from bad examples could end up becoming socially inappropriate – we have to remember that most AI today has no cognition of what it is saying. Only broad listening and learning from diverse data sets will solve for this.
One of the approaches is to develop a reward mechanism when training AI. Reinforcement learning measures should be built not just based on what AI or robots do to achieve an outcome, but also on how AI and robots align with human values to accomplish that particular result.