Google firing its AI ethical lead Timnit Gebru and AI researcher Margaret Mitchell back-to-back has brought discussions around ethical and responsible AI to the fore. In the last few years, AI ethicists have become a critical role in the AI industry, with many organisations — both big and small — looking to hire AI ethics managers to keep their data sane.
The use of AI comes with many ethical implications impacting companies, employees, customers, and other stakeholders. Research suggests, about 30% of large companies in the US have taken up multiple AI projects and are already building and deploying AI applications. However, most organisations don’t have a specific plan to ensure Fair AI.
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Why An AI Ethics Manager
AI ethicists manage ethical complexities as companies deal with large data volumes. It is crucial to educate and upskill the entire organisation about the implications of AI apart from ensuring that adequate governance mechanisms are in place to address all the ethical concerns around AI.
For the ethics manager role, the companies typically look for candidates who can understand and oversee ethical issues around AI and technologies such as facial recognition. AI ethics managers are also expected to assist in developing coherent and relevant policy recommendations for the employees.
Let’s look at a few examples.
For the role of Manager, AI risks and ethics, data risk and analytics at Deloitte London require the candidate to be familiar with the trends, challenges, and opportunities on new risks and ethical considerations around AI and machine learning in the financial services sector. The managers should take an active role in designing, configuring and delivering products and services for clients to help them manage the risks of AI, coordinate with diverse internal and global teams across regulatory strategy, technology risk, model validation etc.
The Director, ML Ethics Transparency and Accountability (META) at Twitter, should ensure fairness and human rights stay at the centre of Twitter’s ML systems. She is also expected to contribute to product strategy for a world-class team of engineers and researchers on everything related to machine learning ethics, transparency and accountability at Twitter, motivating product decisions. Other responsibilities include:
- Planning and collaborating with other teams to deliver impactful changes.
- Defining the right set of problems and success metrics to maximise impact and value to Twitter.
- Ensuring cross-functional management.
State Of Play
AI has permeated many industries. A good AI ethics culture in organisations can improve everything from security to trust to productivity. Microsoft was one of the first companies to open a full-time position in AI policy and ethics. Since then, many companies have instituted roles around data and AI ethics. The most popular job roles in AI ethics are data ethics consultant, ML ethicist, data ethics lead, AI policy coordinator, AI ethics manager, AI ethicist, and AI governance manager.
Here we list some of the job titles around AI ethics manager in various companies:
- AI ethicist (IBM)
- Chief Ethical and Humane Use Officer (Salesforce)
- Data Privacy and Ethics Lead (Qantas)
- Ethical AI Lead (Google)
- Chief AI Ethics Officer (US Army Artificial Intelligence Task Force)
- Activation Lead/Ethics & Society (Microsoft)
- Director of Responsible Innovation & Responsible Innovation Manager (Facebook)
- Social Trust Specialist (Apple)
- Responsible AI Specialist (H&M Group)
- Principal, Responsible Innovation + Data Ethics (Accenture)
Amazon Web Services (AWS), Twitter, Virtuous AI, DeepMind, OpenAI, AI for Good, Center for Human -Compatible Artificial Intelligence, Deloitte are actively hiring AI ethics professionals.
In India, only a handful of companies (such as TCS) hire AI ethicists.
One reason for the lack of AI ethicists’ positions is the lack of clarity about the job description. Many companies still struggle with formulating the job description and qualifications for the role of AI ethics manager. While companies know they are dealing with valuable and sensitive data and need to have a more thoughtful approach regarding its use, governance, and oversight, the roles are still not clearly defined.
Secondly, it is a relatively new job profile, and there aren’t many applicants for such jobs. It’s not a specialisation in India as things stand.
Experts believe companies need to define the role precisely to look more approachable for candidates to apply. As conversations around ethical AI become common parlance, more Indian companies will have to add ethics managers positions to their roster soon.