Insights on Ethical and Responsible Uses of AI featuring Sweta Sinha & Sumit AroraMarch 14, 2023
At Ascend, we encourage our employees to pursue growth opportunities and expand their industry connections by contributing their time and expertise to professional organizations and sharing knowledge and experience speaking at industry events.
One team member at Ascend who recently shared her expertise with industry colleagues is Sweta Sinha, director of data science in Tech & Ops, who was invited to speak on “AI Governance for Building Responsible and Ethical AI Systems” and serve as a panelist speaking on “AI State of the Art, Organizational Topologies, and Defining Success” at the Data Science Salon in Austin, Texas on Feb. 21-22.
Traditionally a traveling conference that bounces between the coasts with multiple events throughout the year, the Data Science Salon in Austin brought together hundreds of industry leaders and specialists including executives, senior data science practitioners, data science managers, analysts, and engineering professionals to share knowledge and learnings. Topics included AI and machine learning applications in the enterprise, innovative new solutions in artificial intelligence, machine learning, predictive analytics and acceptance around best practices.
The Ascend Communications team caught up with Sweta recently to learn more about her experience speaking at the conference, the potential applications (and risks) of AI, and how it relates to our work at Ascend. We also invited her manager, Sumit Arora, vice president of data analytics in Tech & Ops, to contribute to the conversation.
Ascend Communications (AC): What was it like sharing your experience and knowledge with your industry peers?
Sweta Sinha (SS): I enjoyed participating and sharing my thoughts on the panel that I shared with other technical leaders. The conversation was focused on centralized vs. decentralized AI operating models and the advantages and disadvantages of each, the current state of AI in enterprise, how organizations can leverage Generative AI/ChatGPT technology while mitigating the risks, and what the future of education would look like in the AI era.
AC: What were some perspectives you contributed to the panel and in your talk?
SS: AI is a key driver for innovation and enhancing customer experience. However, AI solutions come with their own challenges and risks, particularly in regulated industries. There have been numerous instances when AI introduced bias, ethical and legal risks. I talked about what steps organizations can take to govern the AI technology that will ensure this technology benefits, augments us, and makes life better for all it intends to.
I also emphasized the need for transparency, diversity, and establishing guidelines around development and usage — and the need for communicating clearly around power and limitations of the AI system usage. It’s important to establish an AI ethics committee who can oversee the fairness and ethical aspects of AI products being built. As more laws, regulations and guidelines are getting introduced on the fair and indiscriminatory usage of AI based systems, organizations are becoming more aware of the need for AI governance and looking to understand how to implement it.
I hope my talk was useful to those who are taking steps towards the implementation.
AC: There has been increased discussion, headlines and news about AI in recent months; for those who aren’t as familiar with the topic, what can you share about its importance?
SS: AI is becoming more and more prevalent in every aspect of our daily lives, including areas such as food production, education, healthcare, fashion, law enforcement, employment, and advanced scientific research. It has provided us with the opportunity to automate processes and proactive decision-making and has the potential to drive positive changes towards the future. However, there is also a significant risk of AI being unfair and biased towards certain demographics, as it can perpetuate systemic biases and unfair beliefs from our past.
It’s important to recognize the potential risks associated with AI and take steps to ensure that it is governed responsibly. By implementing governance processes for AI, we can leverage its benefits and minimize the risk of it being used unfairly or causing harm.
AC: What opportunities exist to leverage the power of AI at an enterprise level?
SS: Emerging Generative AI technology has immense potential to help enterprises in many ways, including new content creation, automating processes and systems, creating virtual assistants, and enhancing customer experience. ChatGPT, an AI-based conversation AI, has gained significant attention lately due to its ability to engage in a human-like conversation and to serve as an unrestricted FAQ resource. By leveraging this technology, along with traditional AI/machine learning solutions, enterprises can increase efficiency, reduce cost and delight their customers.
SA: AI is a powerful technology that will undoubtedly impact our lives and will forever change the way businesses are run. However, there is a lot of hype around AI in the industry currently, and we need to carefully distinguish fact from fiction. At Ascend, it’s important that we pick the right use-cases for experimentation while keeping in mind our values, business goals and ethics.
Interested in learning more about AI?
For professionals interested in learning more about AI, Generative AI and ChatGPT, Sweta recommends exploring articles published by Azure, McKinsey and Gartner.