Kathy Gibson is at Fujitsu ActivateNow – Artificial intelligence is becoming pervasive in many industries, opening up the question of the ethical use of the technology.

“With the global prevalance of AI today, and its ubiquitous role in business, trust has never before been so important,” says Dr Aisha Naseer, research manager at Fujitsu Laboratories Europe.

To drive trust in AI technology, she says it’s important that a sound ethical platform is established.

“AI needs to be fair, accountable and transparent,” Dr Naseer says.

But current research and development largely fails to eliminate the biases that AI is often guilty of. “It is not sufficient or good enough. We need to see more investment in AI ethics research.”

Dr Naseer offers examples that include technical issues such as facial recognition not working for minorities like black women; and also non-technical issues like a lack of trust in the companies employing AI.

Examples abound of situations where AI has been proved or suspected of showing societal biases.

“It is already affecting our lives and our dignity,” Dr Naseer says. “Since the reliance on the technology is growing, so is our exposure, so we cannot compromise on ethics.”

To this end, she says Fujitsu is exploring alternatives to the conventional approaches to the non-technical aspects of AI ethics.

“We are actively working with an ecosystem of stakeholders, and co-operating with a broader ecosystem as well.”

The areas that Fujitsu is co-operating on are regulation, standardisation and certification.

In terms of regulation, it is crucial to ensure the proper use of AI, Dr Naseer explains. Fujitsu participates in several consortia to drive regulations and legislation.

The company is also working with several European and global initiatives to influence standardisation and certification.

Fujitsu is not just paying lip service to the concept of AI ethics: the company has committed to the safe and secure use of AI, and employees worldwide have access to an e-learning training and education initiative.

The bottom line for all businesses comes down to trust, Dr Naseer adds. “Trust has the potential to help establish lifelong relationships with customers.”