NICE has unveiled a Robo-Ethical Framework promoting responsibility and transparency in the design, creation, and deployment of artificial intelligence (AI)-powered robots. NICE’s ethical guidelines set the standard for designing, building, and deploying robots, and form the basis for solid and ethically sound robot and human collaboration. Comprising a set of five guiding principles, NICE’s Robo-Ethical Framework underlies every interaction with process robots – from planning to implementation – and drives ethically sound human-robot partnerships in the workplace. The launch of this framework reiterates the company’s dedication to these standards and invites industry wide adoption.
Sarah Burnett, partner, Emergence Partners said, “NICE RPA scored well in our Ethics in Technology Assessment (ETA) framework. It is commendable to see NICE taking a strong stand by establishing a Robo-Ethical framework. The upsurge in adoption of AI necessitates commitment to doing what is ethical, and respectful to customers. NICE’s move in this direction is admirable and I advise other organisations to follow suit.”
The rapid acceleration of AI has driven the proliferation of robots in various roles across both home-based work and business environments. With their integration, robots are being granted more access to business and customer data. Yet ethical standards that provide guidance around the development and application of robots and AI have been lacking. There has been much discourse around the topic in the robotics industry but steps to formalise guidelines on an industry level have yet to be taken.
By introducing the industry’s first set of standards to self-govern the creation of responsible AI-driven robotics, NICE commits to ensuring transparent design, development, and implementation of process automations as is already inherent to its robotic platform automation (RPA) platform. Deeply rooted in its product capabilities, NICE’s ethical framework is shared with every customer along with their robotic licence. While the ultimate determination of what is beneficial to humanity is subjective and contextually rooted, NICE aims to keep the importance of ensuring a positive impact in RPA top of mind in the industry. The five guiding principles that are intended to ensure good ethical standards, underlying the robot-human relationship in the workplace include the following:
- Robots must be designed for a positive impact: Robots must be built to contribute to the growth and well-being of the human workforce. With consideration to societal, economic, and environmental impacts, every project that involves robots should have at least one positive rationale clearly defined.
- Bias-free robotics: Personal attributes such as colour, religion, sex, gender, age, and other protected status are eliminated when creating robots so their behaviour is employee agnostic. Training algorithms are evaluated and tested periodically to ensure they are bias-free.
- Robots must safeguard individuals: Careful consideration is given to decide whether and how to delegate decisions to robots. The algorithms, processes, and decisions embedded within robots must be transparent, with the ability to explain conclusions with unambiguous rationale. Accordingly, humans must be able to audit a robot’s processes and decisions and have the ability to intervene and redress the system to prevent potential offenses.
- Robots must be driven by trusted data sources: Robots must be designed to act based upon verified data from trusted sources. Data sources used for training algorithms should be maintained with the ability to reference the original source.
- Robots must be designed with holistic governance and control: Humans must have complete information about a system’s capabilities and limitations. Robotics platforms must be designed to protect against abuse of power and illegal access by limiting, proactively monitoring, and authenticating any access to the platform and every type of edit action in the system.
Barry Cooper, president, NICE Workforce & Customer Experience Group, said, “We are at an exciting time in history where with the support of AI-driven smart robots, the human workforce can deliver brand-differentiating, next-gen CX. NICE is proud to take the lead in ensuring the use of robots for the betterment of humankind, articulating the ethical principles that act as guidelines for the development of our own AI-driven innovations and, through this framework, across the RPA field. Our industry’s first robo-ethical framework reflects our commitment to this effort, and we urge industry leaders to join us.”