Companies are not ethically prepared for AI says Brian Kropp VP at Gartner

HRreview sat down with Brian Kropp, group vice president, of Gartner’s HR practice to discuss the implementation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and how he believes companies are far from ethically prepared to implement it. 

HRreview: Are organisations ethically ready for AI?

Mr Kropp: Organisations are not ethically ready for AI. Every company needs to create their own ethical bill of rights relating to AI. The rise of AI should lead to companies hiring someone whose job it is to be ethical, this person should be in HR. Only 9 per cent of chief human resources officers (CHROs) are ready for the future.

The private sector will most likely implement rules for AI however if they do not the Government will step in to do so. Another issue that is arising, is who is legally responsible for an unethical decision made by AI? An argument arises between the vendor and the company that has used it. If an AI makes a discriminatory decision the vendor will argue that all it has done is automate the decisions needed to be made by a business from the data the company has provided it.

The company will state the vendor wrote the algorithm so it is the vendor’s fault. Presently, there has been no legal ruling yet.

HRreview: Do you think AI can defeat unconscious bias?

Mr Kropp: If a set of data, which is based on a set of decision people have made is now dealt with a machine rather than a human, the data is still going to have an unconscious bias. The AI will simply replicate it. How do you develop AI, it will just replicate what it is given.

HRreview: You said if the economy is doing well, the implementation of AI will not be disruptive, what if a no-deal Brexit takes place?

Mr Kropp: If any version of Brexit has a negative impact on the UK economy, people will attempt to decrease the cost of their business and invest more in to AI, this will be followed by a transitional period. A period such as the 2008/9 financial crisis would have lead to a rise in the adoption of AI.

If the economy slows down, then companies will shift more to AI rather than people, a no-deal Brexit could definitely lead to a rise in investment in AI.

HRreview: Do you feel companies are giving AI enough attention?

Mr Kropp: Companies are failing to understand where the technology sits in their broader business. It should be looked at how it impacts a company holistically.

Mr Kropp went on to explain the advantages of AI and that if it is used properly it can create jobs, not only take certain ones away. In Japan, an AI has been designed that can be remotely controlled by a handicapped individual from their beds to take orders at a cafe and give customers the coffee they have requested.

In India, an HR AI robot has been created which goes around the office and asks employees questions relating to HR. This has fed in to the uncertainty that jobs could be replaced by AI, so much so a website has been created to tell you if a robot could take your job in the future.

However, Mr Kropp did make it clear, that AI is far different from other technological advancements. He said AI brings with it a far broader disruption than other technologies. The telephone disrupted the communications industry but benefitted others, AI will bring disruption to far wider society of businesses.

HRreview’s latest poll which asked “what area of HR do you feel the introduction of AI will benefit the most?” shows that half (50 per cent) believe it to be recruitment. Mr Kropp also voted for recruitment as he believes in order for AI to work you need to have a clear outcome and recruitment is the easiest part of HR to measure if it has had a positive impact on it. Learning and Development (L&D) came in second at 19 per cent, talent management at 16 per cent, reward at 13 per cent and employee relations at 3 per cent.

The poll had 32 people vote in it.






Darius is the editor of HRreview. He has previously worked as a finance reporter for the Daily Express. He studied his journalism masters at Press Association Training and graduated from the University of York with a degree in History.