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The Modern Customer Podcast

The Modern Customer Podcast is a show exploring the intersection of customer experience, social customer service and content. We will also dive into related leadership topics. The show is hosted by Forbes contributor and customer experience strategist Blake Morgan and features guests that include practitioners, authors, influencers and other tastemakers.
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Jun 12, 2017

Artificial intelligence seems to be popping up everywhere, and it has the potential to change nearly everything we know about data and the customer experience. However, it also brings up new issues regarding ethics and privacy.

            One of the keys to keeping AI ethical is for it to be transparent, says Rob High, vice president and chief technology officer of IBM Watson. When customers interact with a chatbot, for example, they need to know they are communicating with a machine and not an actual human. AI, like most other technology tools, is most effective when it is used to extend the natural capabilities of humans instead of replacing them. That means that AI and humans are best when they work together and can trust each other.

            Chatbots are one of the most commonly used forms of AI. Although they can be used successfully in many ways, there is still a lot of room for growth. As they currently stand, chatbots mostly perform basic actions like turning on lights, providing directions, and answering simple questions that a person asks directly. However, in the future, chatbots should and will be able to go deeper to find the root of the problem. For example, a person asking a chatbot what her bank balance is might be asking the question because she wants to invest money or make a big purchase—a futuristic chatbot could find the real reason she is asking and turn it into a more developed conversation. In order to do that, chatbots will need to ask more questions and drill deeper, and humans need to feel comfortable providing their information to machines.

            As chatbots perform various tasks and become a more integral part of our lives, the key to maintaining ethics is for chatbots to provide proof of why they are doing what they are doing. By showcasing proof or its method of calculations, humans can be confident that AI had reasoning behind its response instead of just making something up. The chances of AI truly going “rogue” are small, but they still need to be considered, and in order to maintain transparency and trust, the machine’s processes should be revealed. An example of this comes from IBM Watson, which is used to help doctors diagnose patients and decide the best treatment options. Doctors can’t possibly keep up with all of the data and new studies being created every day, but Watson can scan through millions of records for new data and treatment suggestions. By showing where the information and recommendations are coming from, Watson expands what human doctors can do and provides them with resources to make the best decisions for their patients. Watson isn’t making decisions for the doctors, but instead is presenting options with the proof to back it up.

            The future of technology is rooted in artificial intelligence. In order to stay ethical, transparency, proof, and trustworthiness need to be at the root of everything AI does for companies and customers. By staying honest and remembering the goals of AI, the technology can play a huge role in how we live and work.

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