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NICE announces AI ethics framework as industry booms

By Catherine Knowles, Mon 5 Jul 2021

As artificial intelligence (AI) development and adoption continues at rapid pace, and more businesses invest in AI solutions, NICE has announced it’s Robo-Ethical Framework.

According to the company, the framework is designed to promote responsibility and transparency in the design, creation and deployment of AI-powered robots.

NICE’s ethical guidelines set a standard for designing, building and deploying robots, and form the basis for solid and ethically sound robot and human collaboration, the company states.

Comprising a set of five guiding principles, NICE's Robo-Ethical Framework underlies every interaction with process robots, from planning to implementation.

The launch of the framework reiterates the company's dedication to these standards and invites industry wide adoption, the company states.

According to NICE, there has been a lot of discourse around the topic in the robotics industry but steps to formalise guidelines on an industry level have yet to be taken.

By introducing the industry's first set of standards to self-govern the creation of responsible AI-driven robotics, NICE commits to ensuring transparent design, development, and implementation of process automations as is already inherent to its robotic platform automation (RPA) platform.

Rooted in its product capabilities, NICE’s ethical framework is shared with every customer along with their robotic licence. While the ultimate determination of what is beneficial to humanity is subjective and contextually rooted, NICE states the company aims to keep the importance of ensuring a positive impact in RPA top of mind in the industry.

The five guiding principles that are intended to ensure good ethical standards, underlying the robot-human relationship in the workplace, include the following:

Robots must be designed for a positive impact: Robots must be built to contribute to the growth and well-being of the human workforce. With consideration to societal, economic, and environmental impacts, every project that involves robots should have at least one positive rationale clearly defined.

Bias-free robotics: Personal attributes such as colour, religion, sex, gender, age, and other protected status are eliminated when creating robots so their behaviour is employee agnostic. Training algorithms are evaluated and tested periodically to ensure they are bias-free.

Robots must safeguard individuals: Careful consideration is given to decide whether and how to delegate decisions to robots. The algorithms, processes, and decisions embedded within robots must be transparent, with the ability to explain conclusions with unambiguous rationale.

Accordingly, humans must be able to audit a robot’s processes and decisions and have the ability to intervene and redress the system to prevent potential offences.

Robots must be driven by trusted data sources: Robots must be designed to act based upon verified data from trusted sources. Data sources used for training algorithms should be maintained with the ability to reference the original source.

Robots must be designed with holistic governance and control: Humans must have complete information about a system’s capabilities and limitations. Robotics platforms must be designed to protect against abuse of power and illegal access by limiting, proactively monitoring, and authenticating any access to the platform and every type of edit action in the system.

NICE Workforce & Customer Experience Group president Barry Cooper says, "We are at an exciting time in history where with the support of AI-driven smart robots, the human workforce can deliver brand-differentiating, next-gen CX.

"NICE is proud to take the lead in ensuring the use of robots for the betterment of humankind, articulating the ethical principles that act as guidelines for the development of our own AI-driven innovations and, through this framework, across the RPA field.

"Our industry’s first robo-ethical framework reflects our commitment to this effort, and we urge industry leaders to join us."

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