A Data Scientist & Sociologist Discuss Responsible AI/ML

Navigating the cross-sections of human interaction and technology in business is as worthwhile as it is wrought with cautionary tales, perhaps even more so in the area of Machine Learning (ML) and AI. On a nearly daily basis, news headlines underscore the complexities and questions surrounding ethical AI/ML in contexts that reach far beyond business, and extend to many facets of society more broadly. The increased pace at which this technology is being integrated into the lives of everyday people, coupled with the drumbeat of unsettling examples of AI/ML gone awry, can be understandably anxiety-inducing for many.

To me, this begs the question: how should we think about the interplay between continuing advances in transformative technology -- particularly in AI/ML -- and ensuring that evolution in the field becomes a boon, rather than a detriment, to humanity?

What I am excited about is the potential for AI/ML to be a positive, additive force in the cross-sections of humanity and society -- from ensuring businesses can deliver better products and solutions for customers, to enhancing our ability to make human connections, attain valuable information, gain access to more services, and beyond.

At Capital One, we recently hosted an internal discussion featuring a sociologist and a data scientist from two large online dating companies, and our next gathering will spotlight the intersection of advances in ML and mental health. These conversations are setting the stage for a close look at how technology, specifically machine learning algorithms, is informed by the cross-section of technology and deeply human, personal interaction.

As a Senior Director in Capital One’s Center for Machine Learning, these interdisciplinary discussions are one mechanism to ensure we’re continue focusing on technological innovations that strike the appropriate balance between responsible development and deployment of technology and end solutions that enhance human progress.  

It is clear that the application of ML and AI to relevant processes and products across industries can create efficiency, scale, and growth in ways not possible before, but what will define long-term success for companies is their ability to ensure that the tools and solutions they build are opening new doors for their customers and enriching their lives for the better, and not simply for short-term gains.

To us at Capital One, technology like ML and AI helps gives our customers greater protection, security, confidence, and control of their finances, such as our ability to apply cutting-edge ML techniques to help get better at solving the problem of fraud.

But it can’t simply be about building amazing technology -- we are guided by a belief that these technologies can augment human progress and ultimately help our customers achieve greater financial health and security. Fundamental to this approach is our mission to advance the responsible use of ML and AI across a range of initiatives, from research into Explainable AI and fairness, to multidisciplinary internal working groups and partnerships with academia.

In today’s environment, many companies are focused on using ML and AI to enhance and improve upon existing processes and problems -- that is necessary, and it makes sense. At the end of the day, however, the true winners -- those who can make the most impact from a business and from a social good perspective -- will be the ones who can re-imagine what is possible with technology in a way that serves their customers and humanity broadly. That can mean helping customers achieve a greater sense of well-being and a better ability to do more living, and that’s exactly what it means for us.

Cat Posey, Senior Director, Technology, Center for Machine Learning

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