What Executives Really Need to Know about AI

January 11, 2024

Tips for Everyday Business, All Hypes Aside: Part 3 – AI Responsibility

These days, corporate decision-makers can hardly browse a website or crack open a journal without being flooded with good advice on how to use AI for the benefit of their company. But what is sound advice and what isn’t? Which fields should you focus on in your capacity as a manager, and where best to begin? To answer these questions, Barbara Stöttinger, Dean of the WU Executive Academy, and digitalization expert Martin Giesswein have summed up the most important and state-of-the-art “AI Thinking Points” in a three-part series.

Companies must be aware of the responsibility that comes with the use of AI – and its impact on all stakeholders. Image: created with Dall E in ChatGPT
Companies must be aware of the responsibility that comes with the use of AI – and its impact on all stakeholders. Image: created with Dall E in ChatGPT
  1. Your Business with AI
  2. Your AI Strategy for the Upcoming Years
  3. Your Corporate AI Responsibility

 

3. Your Corporate AI Responsibility

Do You Know Your Digital Impact?

Each organization has its own digital impact: the digital systems used have a significant influence on employees, customers, and also the environment, to name but a few factors. These days, due to the omnipresence of AI tools, the question of how to best deal with the “digital sphere” in both society and the world of work preoccupies us more than ever before. Decision-makers are increasingly scrutinizing this issue, often subsumed under catchy phrases such as “digital humanism” or “Corporate Digital Responsibility (CDR).” And that’s certainly a prudent decision. Very often, this development is jumpstarted by the CEOs of a digital enterprise or a company that relies on a lot of IT services who are eager to contribute to a fair and sustainable digital future.

For this reason, the WU Executive Academy has joined forces with Goodshares to develop a simple six-step method for companies in a project funded by the Vienna Business Agency. The Digital Impact Method enables companies to analyze the digital ramifications of their systems and the AI used, create a simple guideline based on these findings, and immediately implement concrete measures in their daily business.

Why should your company put digital humanism at the top of the agenda? Let us give you five good reasons for more digital humanism in your operations from a business management point of view:
 

  1. Position your company as an attractive employer in the recruitment process.
  2. Retain talents through real value-based purpose.
  3. Benefit from a long-term competitive edge and stability through sustainable digital operations.
  4. Save costs thanks to a more efficient use of energy and resources when it comes to digital hardware.
  5. Brace yourself for future EU regulations (think: taxonomy), including reporting regulations and the upcoming AI Act.

What Will the AI Act Bring in 2025?

The Artificial Intelligence Act, in short AI Act, is the EU’s response to the risks posed by artificial intelligence. It provides a legal framework for the development and use of AI. The goal is to minimize damage done by AI and create uniform rules for the AI market within the EU. This regulatory framework will likely enter into force in 2025 and affect all EU citizens, companies, and authorities that provide or use AI systems.

Proactive engagement with AI and its use can bring competitive advantages, as the AI Act is expected to come into force in the EU in 2025. Image: created with Dall E in ChatGPT
Proactive engagement with AI and its use can bring competitive advantages, as the AI Act is expected to come into force in the EU in 2025. Image: created with Dall E in ChatGPT

This is why we strongly advise companies not to wait any longer to scrutinize the principles of the looming AI Act and adjust their systems to the changes ahead already today. Companies proactively dealing with this issue now will save themselves the hassle of having to make major adjustments basically overnight later, the way it happened with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) adopted in 2018. Companies striving to fulfil the requirements of the AI Act as soon as possible will not just get their compliance measures on track early on, they will also manage a more fluid, cost- and time-efficient implementation of all necessary changes once the Act will have entered into force in 2025.

The Austrian Press Agency addressed the upcoming AI Act early on and implemented a guideline on the ethical use of AI already in April 2022 to ensure that the company lives up to its particular ethical responsibility as a media outlet. The focus is not just on respecting human autonomy and preventing damage but also on using AI systems that are fair and transparent.

What Does Human Input (“Human-in-the-Loop”) Mean in AI Practice?

Verena Krawarik, head of APA-medialab, explains: “Human-in-the-loop is more than just signing off on the work done by a machine. Automation through AI requires a deep understanding of and insight into the algorithms as well as ongoing tests before and during the use of AI.”
 

European AI First?

When it comes to the development of generative artificial intelligence, the European Union is planning on playing a strong part and not yield the floor to American or Chinese companies. In this, the EU sets its hopes in enterprises such as Aleph Alpha, a Heidelberg-based start-up. This company is also part of the Innovation Park Artificial Intelligence in Heilbronn, where an AI ecosystem of companies and research clusters is currently in the making.

So should Austrian companies pondering AI use favor European or even Austrian solutions to boost the country’s economy? The above-mentioned Austrian Press Agency has a clear answer to that: as a next step, it will build its own CompanyAI together with the Linz-based provider 506.ai, which in turn draws on European AI models and data centers.

Few other technology issues have ever received as much attention from top management as AI, no matter where around the world. And that’s a good thing, as otherwise it wouldn’t be possible to utilize all business opportunities this digital evolution presents while at the same time avoiding the many pitfalls.

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