It seems like every organization is flocking to some kind of AI technology nowadays—but not everyone is quick to adopt it despite the benefits they expect to reap.

One big reason comes down to ethics. Understandably, leaders are hesitant to pursue technology that could put their organization, their image, and their people at risk. But there could be greater risks to not adopting AI whatsoever.

In this blog, we’ll talk about some of the ethical risks associated with AI, the consequences of ignoring these risks, and how to practically implement AI while keeping ethics in mind.

What Ethical Risks Are There With AI?

A Santa Clara University study found that 68% of respondents are concerned to some extent about the negative impact AI could have on humanity.

It’s a big deal—and not just for one reason. What makes AI unique is that it isn’t just a way for humans to interact with technology. It’s also a way for technology to interact with people, for people to interact with others through that technology, and even for the technology to interact with itself or other similar technology.

It’s a complicated web that creates a host of ethical challenges. One of the first issues companies using AI will have to tackle is ensuring that the technology they use is free of bias. Some AI technology can be biased toward genders, locations, or even prejudices that could inadvertently harm those in the real world.

There are also major legal and regulatory challenges with using AI. Privacy laws, for example, could affect how AI is used in your organization to ensure user data isn’t misused and that there is a plan in place to protect that data. Regulations may mean paying special attention to the consequences AI can have on real people and the environment, so you minimize any impact.

And of course, there are real-world consequences that could affect real people. Many are concerned with plagiarism in content-generating AI technology; others are concerned with the way humans are using AI to replace real workers; among other challenges.

These are all major concerns that need to be accounted for—and overcome—if you’re thinking about implementing AI into your organization.

Related: Why is There a Lack of Understanding of AI in Marketing?

Consequences of Ignoring Data and AI Ethics

So, what happens if you go about implementing AI without thoroughly vetting the ethical considerations we just talked about? The consequences can come in many forms—but they’re something you’ll need to keep in mind as you vet different tools.

Let’s start with a simple consequence: You could be wasting resources, including money, time, and energy on a technology that just doesn’t do what you need it to. Perhaps the AI algorithm is too new or doesn’t account for end users, and is therefore too difficult to use. Challenges like these mean you might be wasting valuable budget and manpower on a low-value solution.

Second, you could come face-to-face with regulatory or legal consequences that don’t just cost you money and your reputation—but even put your brand on the map in the worst way. The legal trouble you could face includes data protection laws, intellectual property rights, liability and accountability laws, and many more. The last thing you need is a solution that gives you a lawsuit rather than the peace of mind you were hoping for.

And the more trouble you come into with using AI, the worse off your overall brand reputation will be. Using AI improperly—and facing the repercussions of that—might mean that you project the image of an untrustworthy organization. That means even once-loyal customers could choose to put their business elsewhere, and prospects may look the other way even if they considered your brand in the past.

These risks are still just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to AI. Click here to read The Role of AI in Marketing, our all-in-one guide on navigating AI and choosing the right tools—while keeping ethics in mind.

Related: How to Choose the Right AI Tools and Solutions

Building a Culture of Data and AI Ethics

While the consequences of AI are real, there is another risk we haven’t talked about yet: What happens if you just don’t adopt AI at all?

Put simply, you’ll be left in the dust. As your nimble competitors get progressively smarter and faster with the help of AI, you’ll be stuck in the past—and even if you’re ethically all clear, your business could still be in trouble if it fails to adapt. 

That means you need to adopt AI responsibility by creating a tailored ethical risk framework that helps you understand and evaluate the tools at your disposal. That means knowing what potential risks a tool might introduce and coming up with solutions to each of those risks, so you can manage and avoid any ethical issues that come along with these tools.

You’ll also want to pay special attention to educating your employees on how the tool works and how they can best work with what you’re introducing into the organization. After all, AI works with people—so it’s your responsibility to make sure you’re providing clear training. 

And on the topic of people, you’ll want to involve the right stakeholders in your adoption decision. Legal, human resources, and your board are just a few entities that will need to vet any tools that come into your organization. These entities can also help you understand the kinds of ethical risks you might come into contact with and how to overcome them.

Finally, you’ll need to consistently monitor and evaluate the performance of these AI tools to make sure they’re living up to the ethical standards of your organization. But more than that, you’ll also want to ask a simple question: Is it actually helping my company? And if it’s not, how can you better manage the tool, train your team efficiently, or potentially replace the solution with something else?

Related: 5 Ways to Integrate AI into Your Existing Marketing Strategy

Don’t Navigate Treacherous AI Waters Alone

No matter where you are in your AI adoption journey—from consideration through full-blown implementation—there are probably questions you’ve encountered along the way.

Am I using the right tool? How can I get more of my marketing and sales team involved? Why aren’t I seeing the results I’m expecting?

A seasoned marketing expert can help you tackle all of these issues—and help you avoid any ethical hurdles. Best of all: You don’t have to pay full-time CMO costs to get that kind of expertise.

A fractional CMO can get you started on the right path, help you filter through the AI junk, help you identify and implement the right solution, and make sure you’re using it properly for maximum results.

Click here to get in contact with us, and we’ll set up a free, 30-minute call to get you started.