Use AI ethically and responsibly: Sindhu Ramachandran

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“AI has and will continue to make a difference in several areas of society, including privacy, autonomy, and decision-making. Therefore, it becomes vital to ensure that businesses use AI ethically and responsibly. The AI usage should also be explainable, accountable, fair, and just,” says Sindhu Ramachandran, Director – Technology Leader of Centre of Excellence (CoE)- Artificial Intelligence, Quest Global.

As big tech companies take their battle for AI supremacy to the next level, its of high importance to have open discussions and talks between the stakeholders and industry leaders, businesses and the public around AI applications. Such interactions would help to draft some guidelines and rules on the permissible use of AI and curbing its misuse with a strong emphasis on ethics as well as understanding the overall impact of AI on society in the near future and beyond.

In this interview, Sindhu Ramachandran, Director – Technology Leader of CoE Artificial Intelligence, Quest Global talks to TechHerald about the evolving ecosystem around AI and ML globally, the less spoken grey areas of both these technologies and the new battle of Open AI versus proprietary AI. She also discusses the much-needed aspects of ethics and responsibility in the field of AI.

Edited excerpts….

Q1. How is the ecosystem around AI and ML evolving globally both from R&D as well as applications or usage per se?
Sindhu Ramachandran:
Both AI and ML technologies can be transformative for businesses. Globally, the ecosystem around AI and ML is evolving rapidly, and we expect to see significant development in the field in the coming years. With this, we will also witness more real-world applications across various industries and sectors.

We have also witnessed increased government and venture capitalists’ investments in R&D collaboration in AI and ML. Associations have increased between industry-academia and startups, giving us promising talent and innovations in the field. There has been an improved focus on AI ethics to ensure the responsible development and deployment of AI technology. A prioritisation approach is visible in responsible AI, beginning with low effort but high impact.

Due to real-world applications in some domains, we have seen noticeable improvements and benefits. In healthcare, there’s been improvement in diagnosis, treatment planning, and drug development. In manufacturing and industry 4.0, there are optimised production processes for quality assurance and quality control. Likewise, there’s route optimisation, improved productivity, and reduction in costs in the transportation and logistics space.

In the finance domain, we have new applications for risk management, fraud detection and recommendations. Retail and e-commerce domain uses applications for the personalisation of the shopping experience and product recommendations. In agriculture, we see improved crop yields and reduced use of chemicals and water.

Q2. Artificial Intelligence is being seen in conjunction with innovation – a vital force in driving automation. But there are grey areas like bias and ethics, misuse, negative impact on society and more. So what are your observations on those less talked about grey areas of AI?
Sindhu Ramachandran:
Over time AI is one such technology that has brought about remarkable changes in people’s lives. However, just as with any other emerging technology, irresponsible or unethical use of this technology may be disadvantageous for the vulnerable. With time and repeated usage, advancements and improvements have brought to the forefront issues that can be ethically debated, for instance, bias in algorithms. There have been many instances where the algorithms are blamed for being unfair and biased, privileging one section over the other.

There’s no shortage of instances where automation has most commonly been blamed for replacing humans in workplaces. The constant question is if smart machines can outthink humans or if there are still decisions only humans can make. We also cannot shy away from the misuse of technology to steal user information and commit fraud. It is essential to create awareness about the ethical use of technology and its limitations, to ensure cautious usage and subsequent implementation for the greater human good.

Q3. What’s your take on OpenAI and its application and usage in the next 2-3 years?
Sindhu Ramachandran:
The real-world application of OpenAI may see a significant impact and progress in usage with technologies such as Natural Language Processing (NLP), Computer Vision, and decision-making systems. Many industries and sectors can use OpenAI in the future that’s approaching us. These AI models can become more transparent, trustworthy, and explainable in critical sectors like healthcare, finance, transportation, and others. Due to its rising prominence in real-world use cases, there is an increased likeliness of the area becoming a significant one for future research.

Q4. The rise of AI has, also ignited the debate around OpenAI versus proprietary AI. Incidents of OpenAI misuse in artwork, writing and producing plagiarised content have grabbed media headlines. So how do you assess the Open AI vs proprietary AI application usage and misuse scenario?
Sindhu Ramachandran
: There are specific pros and cons attached to both OpenAI and Proprietary AI. Hence, people need to work towards a balanced approach. We need to promote innovation and progress responsibly and ensure no ethical issues result from either of the two AI models. Several measures have been implemented to prevent the misuse of OpenAI models. However it becomes crucial for the creators, users, and the people of the community to be aware of the ethical implications and subsequent actions in case of plagiarism so that in future, we can avoid unforeseen events.

Q5. How much do you think ethics are important today in the context of AI, which has slowly started to enter almost every field and aspect of human lives?
Sindhu Ramachandran:
AI has and will continue to make a difference in several areas of society, including privacy, autonomy, and decision-making. Therefore, it becomes vital to ensure that businesses use AI ethically and responsibly. AI usage should also be explainable, accountable, fair, and just.

The AI community will have to play an active role in making AI synonymous with privacy and confidentiality. Researchers, developers, and policymakers must ensure that ethical issues are highlighted. Structured regulations should be in place by the government, policymakers, and concerned authorities to prevent AI misuse in any possible way. Technology keeps evolving and bringing innovations to the front for the well-being of society. However, it is imperative for us to ensure that the progression of technology does not lead to its misuse.

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