Recently, the Universal Guidelines for AI (UGAI) were endorsed by 170 experts and 40 non-governmental organizations representing 30 countries, an important step in acknowledging the potentially negative consequences of AI technology.
The guidelines include a set of principles that developers and users of AI must consider in order to avoid the violation of human rights: transparency and human determination; obligations of identification, fairness, accountability, validity, quality, public safety, cybersecurity, and termination; and prohibitions against secret profiling and unitary scoring.
The late media theorist Neil Postman once said, “our enthusiasm for technology can turn into a form of idolatry and our belief in its beneficence can be a false absolute.” In a prescient pre-2000 speech, Postman went on to point out that there are always tradeoffs with technological change, calling it a Faustian bargain: “Technology giveth and technology taketh away.” He believed “the greater the wonders of a technology, the greater will be its negative consequences.”
Personally, I am excited about what AI will contribute to marketing and the user experience, as most of my previous MediaPost articles will attest. As an investor, I will surely participate in furthering the advancement of marketing capabilities through AI technologies. But I also know to be cautious. I am tuned in to the “wonders of AI” and am therefore hyper-conscious of the risks they may pose.
Of all the principles, marketers should probably focus the most on Principle 1: the Transparency Most marketers, agencies, and media businesses are applying the GDPR transparency requirements to U.S. practices in anticipation of similar domestic regulations. Marketers must make clear to users when their data is being used to deliver advertising messages.
The Data Quality Obligation: “Institutions must establish data provenance, and assure quality and relevance for the data input into algorithms.” This involves your own company’s practices as well as its partners. Even marketers with the best intentions may trip on these principles without the right technologies to provide notification on compliance issues. Doing diligence on data compliance will likely be a big focus of any marketer’s job.
We are in a new era, and AI will be playing a major role in marketing careers. No one has it all figured out. No matter which position you hold or where you rank, consider yourself part of your company’s conscience. The UGAI can help in promoting the right behavior when putting AI to work.
Source: Fay, S. (2018, November 29) What the Universal Guidelines for AI Mean for Marketers. MediaPost.
Editor’s Note: Comments by Sarah Fay in MediaPost.