The Relationship Between Productivity and Ethics in AI

Create a strategy that automates processes but doesn’t compromise on company standards and quality.

AI and ethics

Conventional wisdom says people who operate ethically are more productive, too. But does that same correlation hold up when it comes to artificial intelligence (AI)? That answer isn’t so clear-cut, but what is clear is that AI is growing in popularity. Leading solutions providers like you must keep up with this technology by getting your arms around how AI can make business better without letting ethics fall by the wayside.  

AI in the Workplace

Companies aren’t wasting time sitting on the sidelines — they’re working to gain an advantage with artificial intelligence right now. IBM data says 44% of companies are trying to make the most of what they have by baking AI into their processes and applications. An even bigger swath of companies, two-thirds, is relying on AI to support their sustainability goals now that climate consciousness and labor issues are under the microscope.

Many businesses are interested in using artificial intelligence tools to ramp up productivity (because who doesn’t want to do more with less)? AI can be a critical time-saving tool, giving people a speedy way to access the information they need to do their jobs well. ChatGPT is already demonstrating how AI can shoulder the burden of efficiently tackling tasks that occupy valuable time, such as helping HR teams field employee surveys, onboarding new hires, and assisting developers with creating code.  

Innovators are also using artificial intelligence as a springboard to build tools thwarting cyberattacks and fraud. Additionally, chatbots based on AI have been a tool for years, and are increasingly common in digital commerce — they’re useful for handling the rote questions rolling into customer service centers, freeing human personnel to focus on more pressing issues.

The downside to AI, however, (in addition to its impact on the job market in general) is that overreliance on the technology might entice some employees to take a shortcut or two. AI is only as good as what goes into it. If it’s fed with faulty or incomplete data, you might end up with questionable results. 

Effective and ethical use of artificial intelligence requires human oversight to ensure these tools are helping — not harming — especially when safeguarding data to comply with strict data privacy rules like GDPR. Businesses will also need your guidance to use AI in regulated spaces to help them, for example, comply with the “right to be forgotten” when AI may be using a consumer’s data. 

To ensure productivity, quality, and proper governance, businesses will need to review and possibly retrain their artificial intelligence platforms periodically to ensure optimal outputs, essentially mandating that AI work in tandem with human employees, not instead of. 

Can AI be Ethical?

Don’t make the mistake of assuming AI operates free from the bias and flaws that are trademarks of the human condition. After all, AI is designed and trained by people and will reflect our imperfections if we’re not careful about cleaning up the data that’s powering these systems and platforms. Artificial intelligence raises concerns about its potential to trample on human rights and discriminate against some people — outcomes that have no place in an ethical business.

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For now, people are still best at navigating the gray areas in life, whereas AI tends to see things in black and white when moral arbitration or human safety matters most. It’s this kind of human insight that can ensure ethical results instead of letting AI run the risk of wreaking entirely preventable havoc.

Find the Balance

There’s no denying the benefits of AI or that it will increasingly become a part of business processes and workflows. But solutions providers must understand how to use artificial intelligence to maximize business productivity without sacrificing the ethics that are so crucial to a company’s reputation. Solution providers who successfully find this balance will discover new opportunities to grow their status as trustworthy technology leaders.

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