Responsible AI

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What Does Responsible AI Mean?

Responsible AI (RAI) is the development and use of artificial intelligence (AI) in a way that is ethically and socially trustworthy. Legal accountability is an important factor driving responsible AI initiatives.


Importance of Responsible AI

It’s important to legally protect individuals’ rights and privacy, especially as AI systems are increasingly being used to make decisions that directly affect people’s lives. It’s also important to protect the developers and organizations who are designing, building and deploying AI systems.

The principles and best practices of responsible AI are designed to help both consumers and producers mitigate the negative financial, reputational and ethical risks that black box AI and machine bias can introduce.

Principles of Responsible AI

There are several key principles that organizations working with AI should follow to ensure their technology is being developed and used in a socially responsible way.

  1. Fairness
    An AI system should not perpetuate or exacerbate existing biases or discrimination and should be designed to treat all individuals and demographic groups fairly.
  2. Transparency
    An AI system should be understandable and explainable to both the people who use them and the people who are impacted by them. AI developers should also be transparent about how the data used to train their AI system is collected, stored and used.
  3. Non-maleficence
    AI systems should be designed and used in a way that does not cause harm.
  4. Accountability
    Organizations and individuals developing and using AI should be accountable for the decisions and actions that the technology takes.
  5. Human oversight
    Every AI system should be designed to enable human oversight and intervention when necessary.
  6. Continuous improvement
    RAI requires ongoing monitoring to ensure outputs are continuously aligned with ethical AI principles and societal values.

Techopedia Explains Responsible AI


Companies and organizations that develop and use AI have a responsibility to govern the technology by establishing their own policies, guidelines, best practices and maturity models for RAI.

Best Practices for Responsible AI

Best practices for RAI include:

  • AI products and services should be aligned with an organization’s values and promote the common good.
  • AI products and services should be transparent and explainable so that people can understand how the systems work and how decisions are made.
  • AI products and services should be fair, trustworthy and inclusive to prevent bias and discrimination.
  • AI products and services should be created by an inclusive and diverse team of data scientists, machine learning engineers, business leaders and subject matter experts from a wide range of fields to ensure that AI products and services are inclusive and responsive to the needs of all communities.
  • AI products and services should be tested regularly and continually audited for machine bias to ensure they are working as intended.
  • AI products and services should have a governance structure that addresses risk management. This includes establishing and documenting a clear decision-making process and implementing controls to prevent misuse of the technology.
  • AI products and services should have robust data protection, privacy, and security controls to protect the personally identifiable information (PII) stored in training data and keep it safe from data breaches. Managers should conduct bias audits on a regular basis and keep records of an AI system’s decision making process for compliance reasons.

Legislation for Responsible AI

Today there is limited legislation that specifically addresses the responsible use of artificial intelligence, but there are several existing laws and regulations that can be used to ensure AI is developed and used in an ethically and socially responsible way. These include:

  1. Data protection and privacy laws: These laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union, establish guidelines for the collection, storage, and use of data, and can be used to ensure that personal data is protected and that individuals’ privacy rights are respected.
  2. Non-discrimination laws: These laws, such as the Civil Rights Act in the United States, prohibit discrimination and can be used to ensure that AI system use demographic data responsibly.
  3. Consumer protection laws: Laws such as the Consumer Protection Act in India have been put in place to protect consumers from unsafe or fraudulent products and services. These laws can also be used to ensure that AI systems are safe and reliable.
  4. Occupational safety laws: Laws such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) in the United States were originally put in place to protect workers from hazardous working conditions. This law can also be used to ensure that AI systems will not put workers at unnecessary risk.
  5. Competition laws: Laws such as the Competition Act in Canada have been put in place to prevent anti-competitive practices and maintain fair competition in the market. These laws can also be used to ensure that AI systems do not stifle innovation or limit the ability of small businesses to competitive.

Recently, the EU proposed a bill called the AI Liability Directive that would give private citizens and companies the right to sue for financial damages if they were harmed by an AI system. Once passed, the bill will hold developers and organizations legally accountable for their AI models.

Toolkits for Responsible AI

An RAI toolkit is a collection of resources and tools that organizations can use to help develop and deploy AI systems in a responsible and ethical manner. Toolkits typically include guidelines, best practices and frameworks for responsible AI development and deployment.

Examples of the resources that are often included in a responsible AI toolkit include:

  • Techniques and tools to detect and mitigate bias.
  • Best practices and guidelines for data management and protection.
  • Templates for conducting ethical risk assessments.
  • Tools and techniques to assess the explainability and interpretability of an AI model.
  • Guidelines for building and maintaining inclusive AI.
  • Methods for measuring and assessing the social and economic impact of an AI system.

There are several vendors and organizations that offer toolkits for responsible AI. Some of these vendors include:

  • IBM – offers a toolkit that includes resources for responsible AI development and deployment.
  • Microsoft – offers a toolkit that includes best practices for assessing the explainability and interpretability of AI models.
  • Google – offers a toolkit that includes resources for detecting and mitigating bias in AI systems.
  • Accenture – offers a toolkit that includes resources for measuring and assessing the social and economic impacts of AI systems.
  • PwC – offers a toolkit designed to help organizations navigate the ethical and governance aspects of AI deployment and implementation.
  • TensorFlow – offers a toolkit that contains tools for monitoring and auditing AI systems once they are in production.

Responsible AI Maturity Models

Maturity models are an assessment tool for measuring how much progress an organization has made towards a desired goal. Maturity models help organizations identify their current level of progress, help establish next steps for improvement and are used to provide documentation for an organization’s progress over time.

Maturity models for RAI should include progressive levels of maturity that an organization can aspire to reach, with each level representing an increasing level of ethical awareness and accountability in the development and use of AI. For example:

  1. Level 1: The organization has little or no understanding of responsible AI, and has no documented policies or guidelines in place.
  2. Level 2: The organization has an awareness of responsible AI and has established some basic policies and guidelines for developing and using AI.
  3. Level 3: The organization has a more advanced understanding of responsible AI and has implemented measures to ensure transparency and accountability.
  4. Level 4: The organization has a comprehensive understanding of responsible AI and has successfully implemented best practices that include ongoing monitoring, testing, and continuous improvement for AI models.
  5. Level 5: The organization demonstrates a mature approach towards responsible AI by integrating best practices into all the aspects of their AI systems to ensure accountability.

Responsible AI vs. AI for Good

Responsible AI and AI for Good are related concepts, but they have slightly different meanings. Responsible AI is about ensuring that the risks and unintended consequences associated with AI are identified and managed so that AI is used in the best interests of society.

AI for good, on the other hand, is the concept of using AI to address a social or environmental challenge. This includes using AI to help solve some of the world’s most pressing problems such as poverty, hunger and climate change.

It is possible for a project or initiative to strive for all of those goals, but it does not mean that all AI systems that are developed with a responsible approach will automatically have a positive impact or be morally right.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert
Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.