Big Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) are helping people, teams and organizations, through the use of large amounts of data and complex algorithms, to take more objective, data-driven decisions.
There are many great examples of AI showing improvements in business, life and society, such as improved medical diagnosis, self-driving cars, automatic translation, personalisation of products and services, supply-chain optimization, management of humanitarian disasters, climate change, to name just a few.
Telefónica has been using AI for several years to optimize its business processes, to improve the customer relation and experience, and to help improve operations of our B2B customers. We see an increasing role for human-machine collaboration to bring our businesses to the next level.
With all those opportunities also comes great responsibility. The application of AI technology may lead to unfair or discriminatory results if the person or team that designs or implements the services is not cautious and aware of potential unwanted outcomes. .
We are strongly committed to respecting Human Rights, as is stated in our Business Principles and our Human Rights Policy, as well as all other internal policies that have been derived therefrom.
We are committed to developing products and services aimed at making the world a better place to live and mitigating any negative impacts technology may have on society or the environment. Technology should contribute to making society more inclusive and offer better opportunities for all, and we believe AI can contribute to these goals.
We are currently working on implementing our IA principles across our operations into concrete action, focusing on three interrelated pillars:
Training: We designed an online training course on Ethics and Artificial Intelligence for our employees, explaining a) how Artificial Intelligence, if used carelessly, can have negative impact on society and the environment and b) what steps can be taken in practice to address potential human rights risks associated with the use of Artificial Intelligence.
By-Design: Product managers who purchase, develop and/or use Artificial Intelligence are to carry out a simple self-assessment of the product/service they are developing already at the design-phase through an online questionnaire. This self-assessment explicitly covers potential human rights risks associated with the use of Artificial Intelligence.
Governance: This self-assessment will be integrated into a 3-tiered-governance model: If a product manager (level 1) has doubts about a potential adverse impact of a given product/service after completing the self-assessment, she will be automatically directed to so-called IA Champions (level 2), a group of predetermined experts within the company, that together with the product manager try to solve the issue at hand. In case this issue turns out be a potential risk to the company´s reputation, the matter is elevated to the Responsible Business Office which brings together all relevant department directors at global level (level 3).
With this threefold approach, we seek to ensure that human rights are respected whenever IA is used in and by Telefónica.