Building ethical A.I. products can put businesses at a competitive advantage

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SINGAPORE — Making sure that AI-driven services and products are ethical and can be trusted could become a competitive strength for businesses, experts said Wednesday.

Artificial intelligence systems are already transforming businesses. They are able to automate repetitive tasks, analyze large volumes of data, recommend content, translate languages and even play games.

But the current scope of things that AI can do is relatively narrow. Some experts say the technology is a long way from becoming so-called artificial general intelligence, or AGI — which states AI’s hypothetical ability to understand or learn any intellectual task that a human being can.

But others have pointed out that even in its current, narrow capabilities, AI raises a series of ethical questions — such as whether the data fed into AI programs are without bias, and whether AI can be held accountable if something goes wrong.

To build trusted AI systems, there needs to be cooperation among countries and various stakeholders, according to Wonki Min, a former vice minister at South Korea’s science and technology ministry, who spearheaded the country’s national AI strategy.

That means working together with neighboring countries as well as industry experts, academics, and everyday people who use those technologies, Min said during a panel discussion about AI governance at the Asia Tech x Singapore conference.