IBM chief Ginni Rometty has said companies that can’t explain the decisions made by the artificial intelligence in their products should get off the market.
In an article published as part of the World Economic Forum taking place in the Swiss ski resort of Davos, Rometty called for a “new era of data responsibility” characterised by transparency around AI.
“When it comes to the new capabilities of artificial intelligence, we must be transparent about when and how it is being applied and about who trained it, with what data, and how,” the IBM chairman, president and CEO wrote.
“Does it reflect professional expertise? Are unintended biases built in? We must explain why its algorithms make the decisions they do. If a company can’t do that, their products shouldn’t be on the market.”
There are growing concerns that artificial intelligence systems – in their application of deep learning neural networks, complex algorithms and probabilistic graphical models – have become a ‘black box’ that fail to explain their decision making processes.
IBM’s “supports transparency and data governance policies that will ensure people understand how an AI system came to a given conclusion or recommendation”, its policy states.
The likes of Oracle and Amazon Web Services are exploring how to make their AI offerings ‘explainable’. Other providers, such as Google, have questioned explainable AI’s value, arguing that humans aren’t very good at explaining their decision-making either.
“The data plus AI economy is paving the way for new innovations, broadened access to opportunity and solutions to some of society’s most pressing problems. That’s why I’m urging all my fellow leaders in business and government to adopt principles of data stewardship and transparency such as those I’ve mentioned. IBM lives by them, and we believe they are critical in earning the public’s trust,” Rometty added.
Who owns the data?
Rometty also called on her peers to be transparent about data practices.
“We must be clear about who owns data and the unique insights it generates. Companies must be clear with their customers, and governments with their citizens, when they ask them to give up ownership of their data,” she wrote.
“IBM, for example, will not provide client data to any government’s surveillance programme,” she added.