Black Friday is literally around the corner, and while this now-annual event will be a little different in 2020 thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, it still remains an important matter for businesses.
The more forward thinking and innovative ones have been leveraging digital technologies in order to tap into customer trends and insights, with artificial intelligence (AI) in particular holding value.
While this does indeed open up a myriad opportunities, Dries Cronje, CEO of Deep Learning Café (pictured below), says that it will also pose some ethical questions, for which businesses will need to have answers for.
“With Black Friday moving online this year, it’s vital that companies introducing AI to their business remain fair, accountable and transparent,” Cronje notes.
“While AI will change the way businesses work, there are serious and valid ethical concerns associated with the practice,” he adds.
Citing a 2019 survey by the Eldelman Trust Barometer (PDF), Cronje points to the fact that three-quarters of consumers will not purchase from unethical companies. Added to this, the same survey found that an even higher percentage of consumers, 86 percent to be precise, will remain loyal to ethical companies.
As such, the way in which AI is applied within the business model should also be viewed from the perspective of how consumers would react to it.
“Ethics should be a part of the discussion from the design phase of any AI project, to ensure that all parties are cognisant of the social impact of AI implementation,” stresses the Deep Learning Café CEO.
Now, Cronje is not anti-AI, quite the contrary in fact, as he believes that it will not be the “job killer” that many have touted it as being. Instead, he believes it will create entirely new categories of jobs, with savvy businesses using this opportunity to puts its human resources to work in other areas.
“New technology may replace entire categories of work, especially in the transportation, retail and customer service industries. On the other hand, companies will have the opportunity to allocate their human resources to much higher value tasks instead of taking orders, fielding simple customer service requests, or data entry related tasks,” he says.
As such he advocates for taking a mindful approach to AI and the implementation thereof.
“Too often organisations go wrong because they adopt AI for the wrong reasons. It’s important to understand that AI is not a silver bullet that will solve all your problems. Instead, AI should be human-centric, trustworthy, and, most importantly, ethical,” concludes Cronje.
Whether businesses will heed his words, remains to be seen.