SAP’s ethics code for AI

To prevent technology from infringing on people’s rights
German business software giant SAP published on Tuesday an ethics code to govern its research into artificial intelligence (AI), aiming to prevent the technology infringing on people’s rights, displacing workers or inheriting biases from its human designers. “SAP designed these guiding principles to steer the development and deployment of our AI software to help the world run better and improve people’s lives,” the firm said in a statement. Following in the footsteps of Google and Microsoft, SAP is wrestling with how to impose values on AI’s systems of algorithms designed to ape certain aspects of human intelligence. Public figures like entrepreneur Elon Musk or late physicist Stephen Hawking have warned of the dangers of an out-of-control AI. Their seven points hit on contemporary concerns like transparency, safety and privacy.
And one item on the list specifically warns of “a risk of causing discrimination or of unjustly impacting underrepresented groups” if AI inherits biases from human programmers — a danger SAP hope to avert with more diverse development teams as well as “technical methods”. Meanwhile, it is the potential effect on jobs that is driving many warnings about the technology. In an interview published on the SAP website, chief financial officer Luka Mucic acknowledged that some people’s jobs would disappear as machines take on more work.
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