AI Governance: A Critical Component of Corporate ESG Initiatives

Helping organizations navigate the often-challenging implementation of Responsible AI as part of ESG efforts

What You Don't Know About the G in ESG and Why it Matters

I recently had the pleasure of addressing the global FICO community from the mainstage of FICO World 22. I spoke about governance, the ‘G’ in corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs. Joining me onstage for the discussion was Cortnie Abercrombie, CEO of AI Truth and author of “What You Don’t Know: AI’s Unseen Influence on Your Life and How to Take Back Control.” Below we recount some of the key discussion points from our dialogue, helping organizations navigate the often-challenging implementation process of corporate environmental, social and governance (ESG) programs.

AI Governance ESG Initiatives

Scott: There are lots of Board-level conversations about ESG, a topic of critical importance. From your perspective, why is governance critical when it comes to artificial intelligence? Why is AI governance a Board-level conversation?

Cortnie: Boards of Directors care about the strategy of the company, the direction it’s taking and the risk. They build corporate policies to help govern everything and make sure that the organization stays on the right track. So, if you're building artificial intelligence capabilities or any kind of machine learning capabilities on anything less than quality or substandard as an initiative, then it’s strategy snake oil. When you're talking about AI and machine learning, these technologies are being used to achieve a strategic advantage for the organization and you don't want that to be built on snake oil, right?

Scott: Absolutely not, no snake oil here! But it’s a big challenge. When we talk about the term AI, what is actually behind the AI? How do we have proof of it working? And more importantly, how can we make sure that we monitor AI systems and understand how it's going to behave in production, before it harms people. That’s really, critically important. Cortnie, what’s your view on the most critical component of AI-related governance? It's a complex topic.

ESG Initiatives: Trust Needs to be Sustainable When it Comes to AI Systems

Cortnie: Trust. As a society right now, I don’t think there are many entities in our lives that we trust. We don't trust politics, media, Big Tech or even our neighbors. How are you going to build tech that someone can trust in a trustless environment? You're going to have to find a way to show people the technologies, the positive impacts and answer the question, “Why I should trust this, and how it can be explained to me?”

Scott: When we survey our customers, trust is one of the topics that they put it at the very top of the list of what they respect, and they like about FICO. Trust is, not granted, it's earned, and it's continually earned. It's something that we take very seriously.

Cortnie: Incidentally, before I even trusted Scott, I used my initiative to check my FICO score online and looked to see if I agreed with it, because I am a “show me” kind of person and a very big skeptic. When I think of which organizations are doing really great things in terms of explainability and transparency, I love the FICO approach.

Scott: That is great, Cortnie. When we explore how to establish trust, transparency is key. For a consumer to have trust, they need to understand the decision, and also to have an understanding of how to improve an outcome, or why they have that outcome. So, transparency is one of the core tenets of success when people are correctly implementing AI governance.

Catch the rest of Scott and Cortnie’s Talk on YouTube, where they steered their ESG governance conversation past transparency and on to self-driving cars, the importance of support for AI governance at the highest levels of an organization, model governance ‘in the wild,’ what happens when data scientists’ egos run amok, using blockchain to codify model decisions, and more.

How FICO Can Help You With AI Governance To Meet Responsible AI and ESG Goals

Follow me on LinkedIn and Twitter @ScottZoldi to see my latest thoughts on Responsible AI, AI governance, ESG, machine learning and data science.

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