Five worthy reads is a regular column on five noteworthy items we have discovered while researching trending and timeless topics. This week, we highlight the urgent need for ethical AI due to increased adoption of AI enabled technologies by businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The sudden and disruptive onset of the pandemic has slowed down multiple sectors in our economy, but it seems to have had quite the opposite effect on the technology sector, artificial intelligence (AI) in particular. It has accelerated the growth of the AI-as-a-service (AIaaS) market, which is now estimated to grow at a CAGR of over 48 percent within the next three years. Gartner has predicted that 75 percent of organizations will shift from piloting to operationalizing AI by the end of 2024.

In these trying times, organizations have geared up to leverage AI, as it’s capable of automating services, reducing operational costs, boosting efficiency, and much more.

AI has played a pivotal role in helping the healthcare sector with tracking the spread of infection, contract tracing, research, data management, and much more. The education sector is using AI to track student performance, automate administrative tasks, and identify gaps in teaching. Banks are using virtual assistants and AI-enabled chatbots to extend their digital outreach to customers. Similarly, many other service sectors are leveraging AI-enabled technologies to maintain their business continuity.

With these many industries relying on AI algorithms for data handling and decision-making, the question of how trustworthy and bias-free these AI-generated results are remains.

This is where the idea of ethics in AI comes into play. Artificial (or machine) ethics aims to uncover the ethical issues in the design, development, and deployment of AI systems. It provides codes of conduct for artificially intelligent systems, which enables them to respond to situations in an ethical manner. In AI ethics, the fairness in the AI generated results and predictions is considered just as important as the benefits from these outcomes.

AI systems are usually developed based on the choices made by their creators, which makes it difficult to design a completely neutral system. This is why ethics in AI has been a topic of discussion for a while now.

However, the boost in AI adoption during the pandemic has increased the urgency for an ethical framework. This requires an ethics-by-design approach. It means that experts in ethics and risk assessment should work hand in hand with the teams developing AI-based solutions right from the initial stages.

Here are five interesting reads on the concept of ethical AI and how the pandemic has catalyzed the need for it.

1. The rise of Ethical AI: Connecting the dots for a transparent future

There are many challenges and threats associated with the use of AI technology. So building an element of trust is the key to implement the benefits of AI for the greater good. This trust can be built over time by putting ethical codes and practices in place and strictly adhering to them. The huge potential for AI and automation created by this pandemic can only be realized if it’s smartly regulated.

2. Artificial intelligence in a crisis needs ethics with urgency

AI tools are being used extensively during the pandemic. But this rapid adoption of technology raises many challenging ethical issues. To ensure that AI can be safely and beneficially used in the COVID-19 response and beyond, we urgently need ethics in AI.

3. AI in Health Care: Addressing Ethics and Regulations

The adoption of AI tools in healthcare has increased exponentially over the past few months. This has raised many concerns about the privacy and security aspects related to the use of AI on health care data. How can health care providers harness the full potential of AI while meeting the ethical and legal requirements of technology and data use?

4. Artificial Intelligence Ethics Framework for the Intelligence Community

AI can enhance the intelligence mission, but like other new tools, we need to understand how to use it in a way that aligns with our principles to prevent unethical outcomes. This guide is a living document intended to provide stakeholders with a reasoned approach to judgment and to assist with the documentation of considerations associated with the AI life cycle.

5. Artificial Intelligence: From ethics to policy

Based on the current trend, AI and machine learning (ML) is bound to revolutionize public services. However, AI is a double-edged sword that has the potential to have a negative impact on society. So how do we go from the idea of AI ethics to formulating specific policies and legislation for governing AI?

While AI certainly has many advantages to offer, the risk of it being corrupted to achieve dangerous ulterior motives certainly exists. This is why governments and corporate entities should address AI accountability.

The European commission has already laid out guidelines highlighting seven areas for ethically developing AI systems. Business giants like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM, and Facebook together created a non-profit coalition, Partnership on AI, to develop best practices for the ethical use of AI as well as to share ideas on how to educate the public about the benefits and issues surrounding this technology.

Accelerating the development of ethical AI systems during this crisis could build public trust in these applications, better enabling businesses to use this technology to its full potential in the future.