The global spend on artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to hit $52 billion in the next three years and to double the annual growth rates of major economies in the next 15. Approximately 29 countries have created national AI policies to mitigate the potential risks, but there are only a handful companies that have openly talked of doing the same.
“Companies will play a significant role in how AI impacts society,” said Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of Artificial Intelligence at the World Economic Forum. “Yet, our research found that many executives and investors do not understand the full scope of what AI can do for them and what parameters they can set to ensure the use of the technology is ethical and responsible.”
To help boards tackle this challenge, the World Economic Forum worked with more than 100 companies and technology experts during the course of a year to develop the Empowering AI Toolkit. Built with the structure of the board meeting in mind, the toolkit aligns 12 learning modules with traditional board committees and working groups. It aims to help companies make informed decisions about AI solutions that protect the customer and shareholders.
It is the first toolkit to provide common ground for companies worldwide to help prepare board members so they have a clearer understanding of the current landscape. It covers the board’s responsibilities specific to the module in question, and provides resources for further learning as well as a breakdown of oversight tools and case studies.
“AI is one of the biggest game changers for businesses, governments and society as a whole, and a huge source of opportunities to solve some of our most important challenges, said Elena Alfaro, Global Head of Data and Open Innovation, BBVA. “But the power that AI brings us has to come with similar take on responsibility from creators and users. This is why BBVA has collaborated with World Economic Forum in the development of this Toolkit, with the hope that it is widely spread and used.”
“Integrity, Ethics and risk management are boardroom matters which are directly impacted by AI”, said Jesus Mantas, Senior Managing Partner at IBM and board member at Biogen Inc. “Board directors have a duty to provide oversight to the enhancements required to integrity principles, ‘human in the loop’ policies, and risk management frameworks to include the effect of AI algorithms becoming the norm in every operational aspect of corporations. The AI Toolkit is a great way for directors to better understand their enhanced responsibilities.”
AI experts in collaboration with board members and key stakeholders from more than 100 companies in six countries designed Empowering AI Toolkit to ensure that it meets the specific needs of business leaders and can lead to practical action and tangible impact.
“Artificial intelligence is a tool in a corporate board’s toolkit,” Firth-Butterfield said. “Boards need to know when to deploy it and how it aligns with a company’s overall strategy. The board, as the custodian of a company’s long-term ethical approach to business and the overseer of strategy, has a critical agenda-setting and oversight role in this area.”
The Empowering AI Toolkit was created by the World Economic Forum with Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network Fellows from Accenture, BBVA, IBM and Suntory Holdings. Among the many others who contributed to its development were AI4All, Australian Institute of Company Directors, Best Practice AI, Latham & Watkins, Saudi Aramco and Splunk.
“Having such a toolkit is not a luxury,” said Nabil Al Nuaim, Chief Digital Officer of Saudi Aramco. “It’s a necessity to inform boards of directors of AI and its overarching effects. Using AI responsibly is one of the core tenants of our digital transformation program and we’re keen in partnering with Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network to expand the toolkit to guide c-suite level executives in their journey to plan, implement, and monitor AI in their respective companies.”
“As business races to capture the opportunities associated with AI and AI-driven tools, management and boards are charged with understanding and overseeing these transformative technologies and their impact,” said Karen Silverman, a Partner at Latham & Watkins LLP. “We are pleased to partner with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution on this essential toolkit, which provides easy-to-reference resources and strategies to support boards in this critical work.”
“As use of Artificial Intelligence rapidly becomes ubiquitous across the global economy, boards must understand the technology, its potential and its risks, said Leonard Stein, SVP Global Affairs, Splunk Inc. “The AI Toolkit provides a means for directors both to honor their fiduciary duties as well as identify new sources of business value.”