The use of artificial intelligence might be heading towards the mainstream but more and more companies are recognising the technology is far from perfect, with the vast majority (93%) planning to invest more in AI bias prevention initiatives over the next 12 months.
According to a new study by AI specialist DataRobot, over two-fifths (42%) of professionals in the UK and US are "very" to "extremely" concerned about AI bias, with "compromised brand reputation" and "loss of customer trust" the most worrying repercussions.
Most organisations (71%) currently rely on AI to execute up to 19 business functions, although nearly a fifth (19%) use AI to manage as many as 20-49 functions, and 10% use the technology to tackle more than 50 functions.
While managing AI-driven functions within a business can be extremely valuable, it can also present challenges, the report states, arguing that not all AI is treated equal. Without the proper knowledge or resources, companies could select or deploy AI in ways that could be more detrimental than beneficial, it warns.
The survey found that more than a third (38%) of AI professionals still use black-box AI systems – meaning they have little to no visibility into how the data inputs of their AI solutions are being used. This lack of visibility could contribute to respondents’ concerns about AI bias occurring within their company, the report says.
To combat instances of AI bias, 83% of all AI professionals say they have established AI guidelines to ensure AI systems are properly maintained and yielding accurate, trusted outputs.
In addition Three-fifths (60%) have created alerts to determine when data and outcomes differ from the training data, nearly the same proportion (59%) measure AI decision-making factors, while slightly fewer (56%) are deploying algorithms to detect and mitigate hidden biases in the training data.
The survey also uncovered cultural differences between US and UK respondents, potentially driven by regulatory and cultural circumstances in each country. While US respondents are most concerned with emergent bias - which is bias resulting from a misalignment between the user and the system design - UK respondents are more concerned with technical bias, or bias arising from technical limitations.
To enhance AI bias prevention efforts moving forward, 59% of respondents say they plan to invest in more sophisticated white box systems, while 54% state they will hire internal personnel to manage AI trust, and 48% say they intend to enlist third party vendors to oversee AI trust.
Beyond these AI bias prevention measures, 85% of all global respondents believe AI regulation would be helpful for defining what constitutes AI bias and how it should be prevented.
DataRobot vice-president of AI strategy Colin Priest said: "AI bias continues to be a real concern for today’s organisations – and for good reason. While many have started to take the right steps to mitigate AI bias there’s more to be done to win the trust of businesses and consumers. Every business must make AI bias education a priority so they can implement critical strategies within their systems that will help prevent it from happening."