Will the future of AI be ethical?

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Innovative uses of artificial intelligence are increasingly visible on a daily basis and its benefits are increasingly tangible. AI is now entwined in all the processes of economic life: optimization of industrial processes, human resources management, marketing and customer relations, financial analysis, medicine and public services, to name but a few, and is no longer the preserve of disruptive innovations in cutting-edge industries.

However, while ever more players (consumers, public authorities, managers, employees, data experts, etc.) are realizing the benefits of artificial intelligence, particularly as a lever for economic and technological innovation, those who fear its possible abuses are many. We therefore need to question the ethics of artificial intelligence for the years to come, and the challenge is to define the shape of Responsible AI.


What is artificial intelligence?

According to the European Commission, "artificial intelligence (AI) systems are software (and possibly also hardware) systems designed by humans that, given a complex goal, act in the physical or digital dimension by perceiving their environment through data acquisition, interpreting the collected structured or unstructured data, reasoning on the knowledge, or processing the information, derived from this data and deciding the best action(s) to take to achieve the given goal."

To put it more simply, AI represents any technique allowing machines to imitate human intelligence.

The foundations of artificial intelligence

AI was studied in 1950 by Alan Turing, a British mathematician known for his test based on the ability of a machine to hold a human conversation. It was then formalized in the United States in 1956 by Marvin Minsky and three other researchers. It therefore constitutes a set of sciences, theories and techniques that will enable the interpretation of complex data collected on a large scale.

Recent advances in artificial intelligence

Thanks to machine learning, deep learning, big data and artificial intelligence, many AI applications can facilitate people's everyday lives. Artificial intelligence now occupies an increasingly important role in our activities and is a lever for innovation and progress in many sectors.

    • Une jeune femme en visio avec une professeure


      In education, AI is disrupting teaching and learning methods. Adaptive learning is one example: it enables tailor-made learning, adapted to the student's pace, needs and progress.
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      In industry, AI facilitates the automation of repetitive tasks. It is a real tool for optimizing production, and it also improves machine maintenance and quality of service and saves energy. By delegating time-consuming and even dangerous tasks to AI, companies can entrust their employees with tasks that have greater added value.  
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      In the healthcare sector, all the aggregated data makes it possible to optimize medical diagnoses and detect certain diseases early on. AI does not replace doctors, but helps them fulfill their role more efficiently. In dermatology, artificial intelligence now identifies 95% of melanomas (Annals of Oncology, 2018).
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      Artificial intelligence is able to predict the maintenance and replacement of vehicle parts and therefore reduce maintenance-related expenses for drivers. It also contributes to driving safety by identifying signs, road markings and traffic lights. AI also makes it possible to adjust fuel consumption. Objectives: to increase vehicle autonomy and reduce CO2 emissions.
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      In order to limit their impact on the planet, farmers have already largely integrated artificial intelligence into their practices to reduce chemical input, prevent animal diseases, improve the quality of milk or meat production, and reduce water consumption. For example, a one-third reduction in water consumption can be achieved with shadehousing, a system of shutters controlled by AI, which open and close to modulate the shading of the ground and therefore adjust the humidity, light and temperature.
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      Artificial intelligence transforms the customer experience in depth. By precisely targeting each person's profile, AI makes it possible, for example, to hyperpersonalize the content offered on streaming platforms. It takes into account the interests and behaviors of users to offer them movies and series that they will be likely to watch. AI is also used every day by many users to unlock their smartphone via facial recognition or when they write to a customer service chatbot.
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      Smart cities

      Smart cities are using AI technologies to improve their urban services and reduce costs. Cameras identify congested areas to limit traffic and accidents. Sensors measuring the quality of air, water, noise, and the movements of people and vehicles can also help the authorities to anticipate and take necessary measures, with energy savings at stake.

    The challenges of artificial intelligence

    Although advances in artificial intelligence are making a major contribution to improving working methods and making life easier for users, how it is perceived is mixed and it remains a subject of uncertainty among the general public. Thus, only 31% of French people believe that the development of artificial intelligence systems has more advantages than disadvantages (IPSOS, 2022).

    Where employees are concerned, only 40% expect a positive impact from AI, while 43% fear job cuts following the adoption of AI in their company (BCG GAMMA & Malakoff Médéric Humanis study, 2019). Employees and, in particular, data experts who create or use AI systems are looking for meaning in their career paths, and are expressing their desire to get involved in companies that share their ethical concerns.

    Left unregulated, artificial intelligence can also give rise to ethical risks:

    Bias and discrimination

    The major challenge of AI is that it can reproduce and amplify already existing social biases. In practice, an AI system may favor a certain class of people over others. Conversely, a monitored AI makes it possible, for example in the context of a recruitment process, to erase the discriminating information, such as ethnicity, gender and age of candidates when processing résumés.


    When an algorithm generates a result or a decision that is difficult to explain, this is referred to as the "black box" effect. If it is not regulated, it can therefore have an impact on end user protection and even the respect for fundamental rights. The implementation of ethical, transparent and responsible AI is therefore essential.

    Interaction between humans and AI algorithms 

    Artificial intelligence systems must be designed to support and complement the skills of human beings, without interfering with their decisions. To make sure that AI does not coerce or subordinate humans, it makes sense to ensure that AI systems and processes remain under human supervision and control.

    The need for a legal and operational framework

    Although the idea of a standard comes up regularly in France and Europe, there are currently very few operational solutions for companies wishing to have a responsible approach to the deployment of their algorithms. On the other hand, consumers and employees also have few means of judging the ethics of the companies for which they work or with which they interact on a daily basis.

    The European Union has initiated a major debate on the framework for artificial intelligence systems through several legislative proposals (AI ACT). Positive AI aims to support this debate in two ways:

    • By anticipating regulatory requirements on behalf of companies, by providing tools and a label;

    • By participating in the debate through the strength of its proposals 

    Given the urgent need and the high stakes involved, it is vital not to wait until a European regulation comes into force, but to act now to offer solutions to organizations wishing to improve and move toward Responsible AI.