Ethical Artificial IntelIigence

Ethical Artificial Intelligence is at the heart of Omina Technologies, an AI and machine learning company. In June 2019, Rachel Alexander, the founder, and CEO, won the Belgian AI Personality of the Year Award. “Getting the award, for me, is a real validation of ethical AI. It is crucial to have people in your organization who believe in ethical AI because it is a mindset that you need to develop. When I started our business in 2016, I had to explain the dangers of AI. Now, I focus on how we can take concrete steps to solve it.”

AI in Europe
On April 8, 2019, the independent High-Level Expert Group on AI set up by the European Commission presented the Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence.

The guidelines put forward a set of seven critical requirements for trustworthy AI systems. The group also prepared a document which elaborates on a Definition of Artificial Intelligence used for the guidelines:

Artificial intelligence refers to systems that display intelligent behavior by analyzing their environment and taking actions – with some degree of autonomy – to achieve specific goals. AI-based systems can be purely software-based, acting in the virtual world (e.g., voice assistants, image analysis software, search engines, speech and face recognition systems) or AI can be embedded in hardware devices (e.g., advanced robots, autonomous cars, drones or Internet of Things applications).

“I find it encouraging that the European Commission came out with a definition of AI and seven key requirements that ethical AI systems have to meet, says Rachel.”

Seven requirements for trustworthy AI

Requirement 1: Human agency and oversight
AI systems should empower human beings, allowing them to make informed decisions and fostering their fundamental rights. At the same time, proper oversight mechanisms need to be ensured, which can be achieved through human-in-the-loop, human-on-the-loop, and human-in-command approaches.

“This requirement points out that it is vital to combine AI and human intelligence. In other words, AI is augmenting human intelligence. There are studies about the diagnosis’s accuracy done by a doctor, done by AI, and done by both working together. The outcome shows that AI plus human intelligence is more accurate compared to only AI or human intelligence,” explains Rachel.

Requirement 2: Technical robustness and safety
AI systems need to be resilient and secure. They need to be safe, ensuring a fall back plan in case something goes wrong, as well as being accurate, reliable, and reproducible. That is the only way to ensure that also unintentional harm can be minimized and prevented.

“It is necessary that you have certain governance around critical AI systems to make sure that it is not possible to reverse engineer it. Additionally, how do you know that your AI system is accurate, reliable, and reproducible? To answer this question, you have to understand your algorithm thoroughly.”

Requirement 3: Privacy and data governance
Besides ensuring full respect for privacy and data protection, adequate data governance mechanisms must also be ensured, taking into account the quality and integrity of the data, and ensuring legitimized access to data.

“Since the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect on May 25, 2018, organizations focus more on privacy and data governance. However, I expect this to change in the future. Why? Because many youngsters don’t have a strong belief in data privacy due to, e.g., Facebook and voice assistants like Alexa.”

Requirement 4: Transparency
The data, system, and AI business models should be transparent. Traceability mechanisms can help achieving this. Moreover, AI systems and their decisions should be explained in a manner adapted to the stakeholder concerned. Humans need to be aware that they are interacting with an AI system, and must be informed of the system’s capabilities and limitations.

“Monitoring the evolution of your algorithms, and understanding what those are doing is an essential level of transparency. At our company, for example, we make it possible for customers to generate an output report by pressing a simple button. It shows you immediately if the AI system meets its service level agreements, what the risks are in the decision making of the algorithm, and how this has evolved.”

“It is crucial to have people in your organization who believe in ethical AI because it is a mindset that you need to develop.”

Belgium AI Personality of the Year Award - 2019

Requirement 5: Diversity, non-discrimination, and fairness
Unfair bias must be avoided, as it could have multiple negative implications, from the marginalization of vulnerable groups to the exacerbation of prejudice and discrimination. Fostering diversity, AI systems should be accessible to all, regardless of any disability, and involve relevant stakeholders throughout their entire life circle.

“I hear many people talking about getting the bias out of AI. That is impossible because you can’t get the bias fully out of humans and data. Nevertheless, what you can do is to minimize it by making it visible through the transparency of your AI system.”

Requirement 6: Societal and environmental well-being
AI systems should benefit all human beings, including future generations. It must hence, be ensured that they are sustainable and environmentally friendly. Moreover, they should take into account the environment, including other living beings, and their social and societal impact, should be carefully considered.

“We make our ethical AI and machine learning platform available for enterprises with lots of data and small and medium businesses with fewer data, tells Rachel.”

Requirement 7: Accountability
Mechanisms should be put in place to ensure responsibility and accountability for AI systems and their outcomes. Auditability, which enables the assessment of algorithms, data, and design processes, plays a key role therein, especially in critical applications. Moreover, adequate an accessible redress should be ensured.

“To assess if an AI system is ethical, you have to audit your AI systems and be transparent about the results and improvement plans. Overall, it is impossible to solve all ethical AI problems outlined in the seven requirements at once. Currently, our business focuses on privacy and data governance, transparency, and societal and environmental well-being, says Rachel.”

Three AI and machine learning offerings
Omina Technologies offers three AI services: Omina Academy, Omina Consultancy, and Omina Core.

Omina Academy 
The academy focuses on bringing AI knowledge to the market so that you can explore what it can do for your company.

Omina Consultancy
Rachel: “Besides the academy, we also provide consultancy. Organizations often contact us with a request to help them understand how they can strategically implement AI. So, we come in and start with a readiness assessment. For example, we perform a benchmarking of the customer’s sector, assess the organization’s strengths and weaknesses to implement AI, and look at their data. That results in a strategic AI roadmap.”

Omina Core
“Last but not least, Omina’s Core is an ethical AI and machine learning platform for enterprises and small and medium businesses. It analyzes massive amounts of data, structured and unstructured, and makes complex decisions and predictions faster and more reliable.”

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Smart and Mobile Operations

Many industrial companies deal with complex operations in their plants. It often forces management to speed up the operational digitalization to be a competitive market player. Although technological innovations make it possible to automate nearly an entire plant, it is still vital to have skilled personnel with in-depth knowledge. Unfortunately, due to an aging workforce, management sees themselves confronted with a possible loss of valuable knowledge and hands-on experience. Their main concern is how to safeguard the knowledge of senior operators and help juniors get up to speed with complex operations?

Geert Sergoyne is co-founder and CEO at Gemsotec. “Our mission is to enable companies with complex operations to make instructions, tasks and inspection rounds mobile and smart. It helps them to capture and organize the knowledge-based information of their senior operators and to create a digital buddy for future talent.”

Digital buddy: four critical success factors
Up till now, most junior operators get extensively training from seniors to gain complex operations knowledge and experience. However, the digital economy and the aging workforce urge companies to change the way they operate.

Geert: “We asked ourselves what the Software as a Service (SaaS) application critical success criteria are for a digital buddy, supporting less experienced employees during complex operations?” That resulted in a list of four success factors:

  1. One software platform for all company departments involved in complex operations
  2. Collect, analyze and visualize data to gain insights
  3. An intuitive user interface
  4. Augment: enriched data such as a detailed floor plan and pictures to guide operators during their inspection rounds

Based on these four critical success factors, Gemsotec created the application GoRound.

GoRound application
What is GoRound? “GoRound is a web and mobile application that assists you to perform inspections, instructions, and tasks.The web application facilitates the creation of templates, plans, and reports. It also manages tasks and collects valuable data insights for improvements. The GoRound mobile app is a digital buddy that guides operators and technicians via a step-by-step approach. For example, they can check the precise location to perform an inspection, log statuses, add text comments, check process values and make field service requests,” says Geert.

Projects and approach
Currently, several GoRound projects are ongoing in different industries. A food company is using the application to digitize the quality inspections of a product line. It means that paper-based management is replaced by tablets that run the GoRound application to log production failures and to perform critical checks such as temperature and fat content. It enables them to optimize the efficiency of the product line thanks to valuable data insights. Additionally, the digital logging of data improves its compliance with regulations and procedures.

“Another project is with a chemical company. Here, employees use tablets to inspect railway wagons containing hazardous substances and to perform full site inspections. The GoRound application provides them the instructions to execute checks and allows them to enrich their data with pictures and comments. That speeds up the time-frame to generate inspection reports and fix problems. In other words, it not only improves the efficiency and safety tracking of the railway wagons but that of the entire site,” says Geert.

“GoRound is a web and mobile application that assists people to perform inspections, instructions, and tasks.”

There is also a GoRound project ongoing with a production company in Spain to digitize more than eighty complex operations checklists for the inspection of many international product types linked to different customers and countries. The mobile GoRound app helps them to select the correct product type checklist.

All GoRound projects start with a customer kick-off meeting. Geert: “We carefully listen to our customer’s needs, identify all stakeholders, agree on what the objectives are, and how we are going to cooperate. It is our responsibility to deliver and configure the application and to provide user training. The customer arranges their team’s buy-in, enters the necessary know-how in the app, and uses it.

Active participation of stakeholders is crucial for a successful project, as well as a user-friendly interface and excellent user experience. Due to the project sizes, I expect to extend our portfolio with project management services to help customers with the implementation of the GoRound app.”

Rapid growing market
The worldwide market for mobile operations is expecting rapid growth in the coming years. That provides many opportunities for established businesses as well as start-ups. For example, in the future, operators will use smart glasses for complex mobile operations. The advantage is that you have easy access to information and work instructions. Besides, your hands are free to perform tasks, and an online expert is available if you need help to solve a problem.

“Currently, Gemsotec is active in the chemical, food, manufacturing, and logistics industries. We are often amazed by our customers with the new use cases they introduce. Although we have many projects dealing with inspections and tasks, I also see great potential for complex procedures such as the lockout tag-out procedures. The fast pace of technology innovations will further help us to develop the GoRound application and to meet the business needs of our customers,” says Geert.

Do you want to know more about the GoRound app to make your operations smart and mobile? Contact:

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