AI Ethics: Making a Commitment for the Future

It’s been almost a year since we’ve launched the Genesys AI Ethics program in mid-2018. In the past year, our work with artificial intelligence (A) has pushed us to reflect on how this technology affects the customer space — dealing with customer data — and the agent space — making a more engaging workspace working with AI and agent displacement.

As strong supporters and believers of what AI can bring to our industry, as well as thought leaders in the space, we feel responsible to drive the discussion about the risks that AI triggers within the customer experience industry. Genesys intends to be at the forefront of this discussion, and while we’ve accomplished some great steps, there’s still work to be done to make our commitment a reality.

To further understand those topics and ensure we’re not missing anything, we’ve engaged with our customers and partners — while looking internally through the lens of our collaborators and employees — using multiple panel discussions, debates and surveys. We also turned to the hundreds of Genesys engineers and product managers who are building tomorrow’s AI-based technologies and committed to making this new industrial revolution happen. We wanted them to share their viewpoints on how AI will affect our industry.

Partners, customers and engineers all agree that it’s important for Genesys to drive and lead this discussion within our industry. Feedback from panels and surveys show how important and recurrent these topics are for customers’ and employees’ daily lives — and how under-addressed they are. Genesys customers are happy to see us as a thought leader in this space and on this topic — driving the discussions, reassuring users and acting on our findings.

We presented our vision of AI at our internal Product Kickoff (PKO) 2019 meeting, and reminded our audience of the engagements we took around the following principles:

  • Transparency – Customers should be informed when they’re conversing with an AI bot​
  • Fairness – Businesses should take steps to ensure their AI systems don’t introduce bias against race, ethnicity, gender, nationality, sexual orientation, ability, etc.​
  • Accountability – Organizations are ultimately responsible for the AI systems they create, and the systems their AI technology creates (i.e., businesses are responsible, even if their bots build something harmful)
  • Data protection – AI must not be used to diminish the data rights or privacy of individuals or communities ​
  • Social benefits – Genesys is committed to social benefit through the thoughtful use of AI

While most panelists, speakers and survey respondents don’t think AI is a threat to employment, many acknowledge that it will transform the way customers and agents work with our software, according to our PKO 2019 survey. AI will empower workers to be more productive — enabling them to handle multiple interactions at a time with the help of bots and agent-assisted bots, and allow them to handle more strategic and rewarding work. Many jobs are transformed with the deployment of AI within contact centers — and this will continue. In addition, many customers expect us to accompany them through this transformative era and suggest partnering with customers but also government agencies, such as public stakeholders.

Working with businesses will also become challenging. The volume of data we leverage to improve our product requires us to handle it with the utmost attention. Security and privacy concerns are taken care of (Genesys is GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant). However, AI also brings new challenges, such as risks of biases — fairness of opportunity and fairness of outcome. More training is recommended when using data for outcome predictions.

Accepting Accountability

Genesys remains strategically positioned on the road to being accountable with our commitment to AI. We want to ensure the technology is meaningful for Genesys employees — as well as all employees working to develop AI tools. We delegate decisions to our products, but shouldn’t abandon our accountability to AI.

Our commitment to providing AI in an ethical fashion is exemplified through the following actions, which were discussed and agreed upon during our Engineers’ offsite meeting at PKO.

  • We’re working on additional training for engineers as part of the data-collection process to inform them of new risks with algorithms.
  • We intend to better understand how agents engage with our software to better accompany them to work alongside AI — or train agents to do different jobs, such as data labeling and work within bot farms.
  • We are committed to adjusting our products so that agents can better work with AI.
  • We will never cease to be more transparent on the data we collect and whenever AI is activated — for agents and customers.
  • We continue to drive this debate in our ecosystem internally and with panelists. We’ll extend our AI survey to customers and will continue to partner with customers to better understand agents’ needs when working with AI.

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