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Opinion: Ethics Behind AI in the UK

In the absence of regulations for artificial intelligence, conversations about AI in Europe centre on ethics


Author: John Power, VP, Strategic Partnership and Client Engagement, Equifax


“Take care of the pennies, and the pounds will look after themselves.”


Dating back as early as 1747 in a letter about the British Secretary of Treasury, the proverb means if people try to save small stuff (the pennies), you will naturally save on the big stuff (the pounds). Parliaments across Europe are thinking about the ways in which artificial intelligence will help consumers obtain prosperity by ensuring a fair credit decision.


While the British government has yet to regulate artificial intelligence, they have taken note of the ethical implications of the opaque decision-making of neural networks. One common emotion I sense in my conversations with regulators across Europe is fear. A real fear that is rooted in the belief that says the only way you can use AI is for it to be a black box. Meaning, an algorithm will determine an outcome that no one can explain. I have one single message to calm their fear: Yes you can illuminate the reasons for a decision if you constrain models as we have done with NeuroDecision® Technology.


You can build an explainable AI. It’s both very clearly explainable and actionable to the extent that you use it to process a loan application and decide whether or not to grant credit to John Power. (Oh by the way, you can also explain in very clear terms the reasons why you declined John Power too.) Because you’re able to explain the credit decision very clearly and the consumer easily understands, the reasons also become actionable because John can look at the explanations and say: “Okay, I’ve just been told I didn’t get the mortgage I applied for because I’m very heavily utilised on my credit cards, because I maxed out my credit cards and by the way I missed a couple of repayments on my auto loan in the last 12 months.” So, when the consumer receives very clear explanations as to ‘here’s why you’ve been declined’, they can act on the knowledge. Armed with more information, consumers around the world can now make smarter decisions to live their financial best.


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