Insurance giant IAG is positioning itself on the vanguard of AI development, after teaming up with two leaders of the academic world to create an innovative research institute.
Partnering with The University of Sydney and CSRIO’s Data 61, IAG is co-founding Gradient Institute – an independent not-for-profit, dedicated to researching the ethics of artificial intelligence.
As well as research, the organisation is set to develop ethical AI-based systems and create open-source AI tools that can be adopted and adapted by both business and the government.
“Artificial intelligence learns from data and data reflects the past – at the Gradient Institute, we want the future to be better than the past,” said inaugural CEO Bill Simpson Young.
“By embedding ethics into AI, we believe we will be able to choose ways to avoid the mistakes of the past by creating better outcomes through ethically-aware machine learning.”
Practice, policy advocacy and public awareness will also fall under the realm of the institute’s responsibilities, as well training and educating people on the ethical development and use of AI.
Julie Batch, chief customer officer at IAG, said being lead partner of Gradient Institute reflects the firm’s focus on embracing innovation to create better customer experiences.
“Leaning into the challenges and opportunities of AI requires considered thinking about fairness and equality,” she said. “No government or business can do this alone. We need to work together across sector and we need to do this with urgency.”
Consumer trust in the insurance industry has also been seriously dented of late and Batch suggested the commitment to ethical AI could go some way in ensuring fair practices into the future.
“We think any organisation or institution using AI, which is most organisations, needs to do some real thinking about how we make sure these machines are driven by algorithms that behave in a safe and ethical way for the good of society,” she told Insurance Business.
“Ethical AI will improve trust in how automated machines make decisions. IAG hopes to be an early adopter of the techniques and tools the Institute develops so we can provide better experiences for our customers,” she continued.
“Establishing the Gradient Institute as an independent not-for-profit organisation is critical in bringing its purpose to life and we hope that other organisations will join us to contribute to this research.”
Adrian Turner, CEO of CSIRO’s Data61, the digital innovation arm of Australia’s national science agency, said Gradient Institute is an important step as AI and machine learning will impact every sector of Australia’s economy.
“As AI becomes more widely adopted, it’s critical to ensure technologies are developed with ethical considerations in mind,” he said. “We need to get this right as a country, to reap the benefits of AI from productivity gains to new-to-the-world value.”