Ethical AI use crucial to winning consumer trust, study shows

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A new study has found that consumers show greater loyalty and spend more with businesses which can show they engage in ethical AI practices.

The ‘Why addressing ethical questions in AI will benefit organisations’ study, conducted by digital think tank the Capgemini Research Institute, found that 62% of the 4,400 consumers surveyed across six countries said they would be more likely to trust a company which they believed operated an ethical AI policy. 59% said they would be more loyal to the company; while 55% said they would purchase more products from companies they viewed as ethical in their AI practices.

Anne-Laure Thieullent, AI and Analytics Group Offer Leader at Capgemini, said: “Many organisations find themselves at a crossroads in their use of AI. Consumers, employees and citizens are increasingly open to interacting with the technology but are mindful of potential ethical implications. This research shows that organisations must create ethical systems and practices for the use of AI if they are to gain people’s trust. This is not just a compliance issue, but one that can create a significant benefit in terms of loyalty, endorsement and engagement. To achieve this, organisations need to focus on putting the right governance structures in place, they must not only define a code of conduct based on their own values, but also implement it as an ‘ethics-by-design’ approach, and, above all, focus on informing and empowering people in how they interact with AI solutions.”

75% of the consumers surveyed said they wanted greater transparency on companies’ AI strategies; and 76% said there should be stricter regulation enforcing ethical AI use by businesses. 41% said they would complain if an AI interaction with a company resulted in ethical concerns; although only 34% said they would stop interacting with the company.

Luciano Floridi, director of Digital Ethics Labs at the Oxford Internet Institute, said: “A classic way of gaining trust, with AI interactions in particular, can be summarised in three words: transparency, accountability, and empowerment. That means transparency so that people can see what you are doing; accountability because you take responsibility for what you are doing; and empowerment because you put people in charge to tell you if something you did was not right or not good.”

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