4 ways responsible tech can change lives and business
May 24, 2022
May 24, 2022
What if we could turn the proverbial tables and use AI and other new technologies to help us become more inclusive? What if we could use technology to democratize access to information and reimagine how work gets done? I think it would help businesses become more human-centered, trust-based and sustainable.
When used responsibly, new intelligent technologies can be enormously valuable to businesses and people, as explained in the new book Radically Human: How New Technology is Transforming Business and Shaping Our Future by Paul Daugherty and H. James Wilson. I’m inspired by the authors’ argument that emerging technologies can make life better for workers and society. I truly believe that responsible tech can enable humans to do what we do best: be creative, collaborative and innovative.
Going forward, we will need to diversify the workforce in tech, democratize access to intelligent technologies, and offer digital learning opportunities widely. Here’s how we can begin:
AI systems impact millions of people from all backgrounds and are allowing us to use our genius for problem solving, collaboration and creativity. I see it happening with clients and partners, such as Pipeline Equity, a Denver-based startup. They use AI to increase financial performance by closing the gender equity gap. Their proprietary Pipeline Score® and technical AI platform help businesses quickly identify internal areas of unconscious bias to make gender equity actionable and attainable. Another example is also the work of Pymetrics, a Manhattan-based AI startup. They developed and open-sourced a tool to detect bias in hiring in order to correct it.
Care for your people and, in return, they will apply their imagination and ingenuity for the company. To unlock their people’s full potential, leading companies will have to democratize access to intelligent technologies and human capabilities across all levels of the organization. When people have access to powerful technology and know how to use it—for example to automate part of their jobs—then they can focus their creativity on unlocking innovation by accelerating digital transformation. Leading companies such as Google and Schneider Electric have tried this approach successfully.
Accenture defines responsible AI as the practice of designing, building and deploying AI in a manner that empowers employees and businesses, and fairly impacts customers and society.
Leadership will determine whether companies will thrive in the future. More specifically, competitiveness rests on whether leaders address and correct institutional bias within their organization and industry. And the challenge to diversify the workforce is significant because of low numbers of racial minorities and women in STEM fields. Bias is one cause. But now, AI can be trained as a powerful tool to identify and eliminate bias. Hiring and staffing is another cause. Many companies still have old models of hiring and staffing that need to be replaced with modern ones focused on identifying skills. When you identify skill gaps in your current workforce, you can shape current and future roles in parallel with skilling your workforce for future business needs. For example, to plan its future skilling efforts, Walmart looks at declining and emerging jobs roles—and the skills they involve—with the help of Accenture’s ecosystem partner Skyhive.
Due to rapid tech innovation, jobs and roles are changing at a rate never seen before. The pace of change was sped up by the COVID-19 pandemic, which skyrocketed the need for digital transformation. It triggered a shift from what we call digital literacy to digital fluency. While digital literacy is a basic understanding and use of technology, digital fluency is a sophisticated mastery of intelligent technologies, including AI. The good news is that the pandemic also exposed the need for training the workforce extensively—especially when it comes to digital skills. It opened the opportunity to increase learning offerings. Among these, our research shows that experiential learning is the most effective in bringing your workforce to digital fluency. An example is the financial services firm Morningstar. They incentivized their teams to build and race miniature self-driving cars, in an effort to brush up and fine tune their broader AI skills.
Intelligent technologies are the future. How we shape that future is up to us all. I believe we can unlock immense benefits, if only we were motivated to put our collective ingenuity to use. Instead of perpetuating bias, we can use intelligent technologies to fight it. We can examine the realities of longstanding systemic injustices built into our organizations and institutions. We can start by diversifying the workforce in tech and by making data pools more widely representative. We can train AI to focus on ethical decisions to minimize risks associated with business-wide AI adoption, to build transparency and maintain trust. The future potential of human+machine collaboration is without boundaries . The vital piece is our ability to embed a radically human focus that adapts technology to people, accelerates their potential and changes the way we live, collaborate and work.
Christie Smith is the global lead of Talent & Organization and a member of Accenture’s Global Management Committee. She is honored to have had the opportunity to contribute to “Chapter 6 – Talent: Humans + Radically Human Technology” in Radically Human: How New Technology is Transforming Business and Shaping Our Future.
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