The topic of AI safety has been garnering a lot of attention lately as advancements in artificial intelligence (AI) have taken a bold leap forward with the release of ChatGPT and other generative AI systems. Most recently, the issue was brought into the spotlight by two significant events: the signing of the Executive Order on AI Safety by President Biden and the Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit, both aimed at addressing the potential risks and challenges associated with this rapidly evolving technology.
While some of the topics addressed in the Biden Executive Order and the Bletchley Declaration pertain to areas of national security and the development of AI systems, standing up for consumer rights, ensuring civil rights, and protecting privacy were all key points—and all topics that directly impact customer experience (CX) and the contact center.
The Biden Executive Order on AI Safety: What CX professionals need to know.
The Biden administration’s Executive Order on AI Safety establishes new standards and guidelines for responsible AI development, deployment, and usage, as well as promoting innovation and competition. For CX and contact center professionals, the most significant actions outlined in the Order are the mandates to:
- Prevent fraud and deception from AI-generated content.
- Pass AI data privacy legislation.
- Keep AI algorithms from exacerbating discrimination.
- Ensure AI does not injure, mislead, or harm consumers.
- Mitigate the harms and maximize the benefits of AI for workers.
Trust in AI-generated content.
In CX, trust is paramount, and the Executive Order sets the stage for more transparent and trustworthy interactions. It aims to establish standards and best practices for detecting AI-generated content in order to address the potential threat of AI-enabled fraud and deception.
The directive to the Department of Commerce is to develop guidance for content authentication and watermarking. Clear labeling of AI-generated content will ensure that customers consent to interacting with AI and that communications remain authentic. For customer service teams, this not only enhances trust, but also ensures data captured during the interaction for analysis is reliable and uniform.
Protecting customer privacy.
The more AI integrates with our daily lives, the more concerns there are about the privacy of personal data and the need for robust safeguards. There is a direct call to Congress within the Executive Order to pass bipartisan data privacy legislation, emphasizing the need for immediate action.
Any legislation will likely have a significant impact on organizations that use AI to handle sensitive information, such as healthcare companies, financial services firms, and government agencies and departments. As CX teams gear up for potential changes, proactively implementing robust data protection strategies specific to AI will be instrumental to maintaining seamless customer experiences while adhering to any forthcoming regulations.
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A fair and inclusive customer experience.
Irresponsible AI use can perpetuate discrimination and bias, leading to unfair treatment and inequitable customer access. This not only erodes trust and satisfaction, it can expose businesses to legal and reputational risks. The Executive Order takes a strong stance on ensuring AI advances equity and civil rights. This translates into a commitment to fair and unbiased customer interactions for CX.
The focus on combating algorithmic discrimination will help deliver an inclusive experience. By directly addressing discriminatory practices, the Executive Order will try to ensure that AI applications enhance, rather than hinder, equitable interactions.
Standing up for consumers: Responsible AI in healthcare and education.
There is little doubt that generative AI will revolutionize how businesses interact with customers. Likewise, there is little doubt that AI poses a significant risk of causing harm and disseminating misinformation. Protecting consumers is a clear mandate within the Executive Order, beginning with patients in healthcare and students in education.
The Department of Health and Human Services will establish a safety program to receive reports of unsafe healthcare practices involving AI. Documenting AI usage and having visibility into AI models will be critical for CX healthcare teams that provide advice and information to patients with AI.
The emphasis on responsible AI use in education will focus on creating resources to support educators deploying AI in the classroom.
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Supporting workers in customer service.
The Executive Order also seeks to mitigate the risk of job displacement and empower workers through the development of a series of principles and best practices. Increased workplace surveillance, bias, and job displacement are all called out as potential threats to workers from AI that need to be addressed.
Contact centers have struggled with high turnover rates for years, and AI can create more engaging roles and empower customer service teams to thrive. However, to ensure a positive impact from AI, contact centers must have visibility into AI models and the ability to fine-tune them if bias is detected. Integrating this capability into any AI-powered workforce engagement or performance management solution that a contact center invests in will foster a fair, inclusive, and empowering environment for customer service professionals.
The implication of Biden’s Executive Order on AI Safety for CX.
The Biden Executive Order on AI Safety is a pivotal moment in the evolution of responsible AI. As we navigate this landscape, the emphasis on trust, privacy, fairness, and worker empowerment stands out. The directives to enhance transparency in AI-generated content, safeguard customer privacy, promote inclusivity, and support workers underscore the administration’s commitment to a technologically advanced yet ethically sound future. For CX teams, proactive adaptation to these evolving standards, coupled with a commitment to responsible AI practices, will ensure compliance and foster a customer-centric, equitable, and resilient approach.
Understanding the Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit: A brief overview.
The Bletchley Park AI Safety Summit brought together a number of tech experts and global leaders—UK PM Rishi Sunak, US VP Kamala Harris, EU President Ursula von der Leyen, Tesla CEO Elon Musk, among others—to discuss the challenges and potential risks associated with AI. Held at the historic Allied code-breaking site during World War II, the summit highlighted the need for proactive measures to ensure AI technologies’ safe and responsible development.
Like the topics covered in the Biden Executive Order, critical discussions at the Summit centered around transparency, accountability, and AI ethics. Experts emphasized the importance of addressing biases in AI algorithms and ensuring that these technologies are used to benefit society as a whole. The Summit also explored the role of governments, industry leaders, and researchers in establishing frameworks and guidelines for AI safety.
While there is significant crossover in the themes and topics addressed in both the Bletchley Declaration and the Biden Executive Order, the goals of the Summit were more focused on global cooperation than laying out a blueprint to establish standards and regulations. However, that doesn’t mean there are no takeaways for CX professionals. Two key points stand out.
Customer privacy and security.
Once again, data privacy was front and center in the discussion about responsible AI. For CX professionals (particularly those dealing with sensitive customer information), the call for international cooperation to address the broad range of risks posed by AI is significant.
The Declaration emphasizes the need for countries to consider governance rules and best practices to maximize AI benefits while managing the associated risks. Any contact center that deals with personal information should follow this discussion closely and align with these principles to ensure compliance with any new international standards.
Ensuring responsible AI in customer interactions.
The commitment to combating algorithmic discrimination was also a key discussion point at Bletchley Park. As stated earlier, advancing equity aligns directly with the objectives of delivering an inclusive CX.
To address the potential risks arising from large language models and generative AI, the Declaration calls for intensified cooperation among participant nations to understand the challenges at this frontier of AI. AI is an evolving technology, and CX professionals must stay vigilant to ensure their models do not inadvertently amplify risks.
How these new AI policies could reshape the contact center.
For CX and contact center professionals, understanding the outcomes of the Biden Executive Order and Bletchley Park Summit is essential. It provides valuable insights into the broader conversations around AI safety and offers guidance on how to utilize AI tools in a way that prioritizes customer satisfaction and well-being.
Regarding immediate impact, the Biden administration’s Executive Order takes center stage. While these new AI policies have yet to be enacted, many will soon be rolled out, and they have the power to reshape the way AI is used in CX and the contact center. Responsible AI deployment that is transparent, accountable, and adaptable will be essential for CX teams that want to take advantage of the technology’s potential.
The Bletchley Declaration may not have as immediate an effect, but it is paving the way for global standards and best practices. The next AI Safety Summit will be hosted by South Korea in mid-2024, and we can expect to see progress on many of the initiatives outlined in the inaugural meeting.
Adapting to these new AI policies is not only vital for compliance but also for enhancing customer satisfaction. By embracing responsible AI, contact centers can ensure a safe and ethical customer experience, maximizing the benefits of this transformative technology. The future of contact centers is evolving, and CX executives must be ready to embrace these new policies to continue to provide exceptional service to their customers with the power of AI.
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