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Going all in on ethical AI: the human touch, technological transformation balance

By Lenny Fayard, Vice President of Product Strategy

The rapid advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AI) brings with it both immense opportunities and ethical considerations. In the past year alone we’ve seen many impressive examples of the ways AI is saving organizations time, making processes more efficient, identifying skills gaps and developing personalized recommendations for everything from continued learning to healthcare navigation. Conversely, AI has also presented examples of newly emerging risks and dangers in the way of data privacy, copyright infringements, algorithmic bias and trustworthiness. So, before businesses and HR can use AI to improve how work is done, leadership must take an active role in understanding why the ethical use of AI is important. 

Early this year, we launched Alight LumenAI, our unified AI engine that powers the Alight Worklife® platform. But long before this, Alight had formalized its governance processes to ensure that our AI innovation was high-velocity and holistically responsible. We’ve learned a lot about the assessment and mitigation of AI risk, and today we’ll share some of the ways that you can balance advanced AI technology with the human touch to enhance core areas of business both ethically and responsibly.

Use AI as an ally to complement your workforce

Whether you embrace AI for HR process improvements, wellbeing enhancements or overall enterprise efficiency, start with the understanding that its purpose is to complement your workforce, not replace them. AI serves as a valuable ally to employees, enabling them to focus on high-value work that requires human judgment, creativity and empathy. By automating repetitive and mundane tasks, this intelligent technology frees up time for your employees to engage in more complex and strategic activities. Present AI as the powerful tool that it is — one that enables your people to be more successful in their roles.  

Strike the right balance to establish employee trust

It’s no secret that there are moral hazards associated with AI, and human oversight is required to minimize those risks. A recent survey of C-level executives by Deloitte found that ethical guidelines for emerging technologies, such as generative AI, were critical to revenue growth, but 90% of those surveyed stated that AI guidelines are also important in maintaining employee trust. As you strive to implement new AI initiatives, you’ll want to strike the right balance of AI's capabilities and personalized support. Have a robust governance and quality control processes in place to validate AI-generated recommendations and ensure their accuracy and appropriateness.

At Alight, we developed an AI governance board that meets regularly to review our new and existing AI technology and use cases, and apply appropriate monitoring and guidelines for seven internal and external areas:

  • Press risk – ensures positive media coverage
  • Data value – ensures data-enriched AI modeling
  • Output quality – ensures outputs are appropriate and high quality
  • Regulatory – ensures our models are operating within evolving legal limits
  • Alight IP – ensures our IP is protected
  • Bias – ensures our outputs are high quality for all sub-populations
  • Data privacy – ensures our client/employee data is protected

This framework can help you consider how to demonstrate a commitment to ethical AI, particularly in critical situations where workers need sensitive guidance. This ensures that human empathy and expertise are always available to inform decision-making.

In our experience at Alight, our governance board decided against using AI-based performance reviews due to concerns about bias, transparency and privacy. The framework helped us identify these potential issues and make an informed decision to prioritize more empathetic and transparent evaluation methods.

Strengthen capabilities and innovation with investment in AI

As you continue to invest in and develop AI initiatives in your workplace, consider partnering with an organization that specializes in social risk to amplify your impact on those you serve. Your goal, like ours, may be to eventually bring AI talent in-house and embed that team closely within your technology teams and overall business. In the interim, it can be beneficial to have a partner that helps you gain a better understanding of your client and/or employee behaviors to drive desired behavioral changes, positively impact ESG reporting and outcomes and lead in AI personalization.

Approaching AI with curiosity, caution and courage 
 AI is a powerful tool that can enhance organizational capabilities, but it’s the combination of technology and human expertise that will set your AI initiatives apart. Accuracy and empathy matter in all areas of business, and for AI to make a meaningful difference in the lives of your clients and end users, you must build thoughtful governance, avoid high-risk use cases, keep humans in charge of oversight and extensively measure AI outcomes. 

The power of data and human expertise at Alight

At Alight, AI is not an isolated tool but an integral part of a larger ecosystem. Our Alight Worklife® platform, turbocharged by Alight LumenAI, empowers employers to better understand their workforce and engage with them during moments that matter. Through personalized benefits management, we help organizations improve employee wellbeing, engagement and productivity — all powerful outcomes that lead to HR efficiency and organizational success. And as we continue to invest in the piloting of Generative AI-enhanced Search and Chat for Alight Worklife, we advance the pursuit of AI governance and responsible-use monitoring. 

Lenny Fayard
Lenny Fayard
By Lenny Fayard

Lenny Fayard is the Vice President of Product Strategy for Alight Worklife, Alight's enterprise employee experience platform. Holding a degree in Computer Science from Northern Illinois University, Lenny brings a strong technical background and business savvy to his role. He has extensive experience working with the most innovative HR organizations to drive employee engagement with a focus on employer health and wealth benefits strategies.

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