Strengthening Our Future With Ethical Artificial Intelligence

By Dr Bicky Bhangu OBE, President – South East Asia, Pacific and South Korea at Rolls-Royce

Technology and collaboration are fundamental to creating solutions that can benefit the wider ecosystem. At Rolls-Royce, we have been leveraging advanced technology to generate sustainable options, whether it is heralding the third era of aviation through electrification or using digitalisation to benefit society. Technology will be a key enabler in our journey towards net zero carbon by 2050.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the technology fields in which we have a strong footing as we have been applying this for more than 30 years. We can analyse more than 5 million data parameters from our engines every day to provide insights to our engineers and customers. We already use AI today to improve risk management in our supply chains, predict market demand and improve the efficiency of our operations.

We have big plans for AI, and we want to further use it to efficiently design and operate our products, improve productivity and safety at our facilities, as well as power our digital projects. Yet, we understand that its full benefits cannot be realised until we have the trust of our society.

Over the last year, we have been solving an internal business-critical challenge involving demonstrating the efficacy of robot inspections. In reaching a solution, we have developed a framework that ensures the ethical application of AI. Going beyond theories and concepts, we have built and implemented a robust process for us to completely trust our AI and its outputs. With the release of The Aletheia FrameworkTM, we will be able to address AI’s biggest public relations hurdle: Building trust.

Named after the Greek goddess of trust and disclosure, this comprehensive ethical framework and trustworthiness process will provide businesses with the check and balances to assure themselves that their AI projects are fair and trustworthy. The framework includes a five-step continuous automated checking process which can track the decisions the AI is making to detect bias or malfunction and allow human intervention to control and correct it.

The Aletheia FrameworkTM has been peer-reviewed by subject matter experts in big technology firms, as well as experts in the automotive, pharmaceutical, academic and government sectors. This process made us realise that what we have created will help not only with our own applications of AI but far more widely.

This is why we believe it is too important to keep the framework to ourselves and have thus made it accessible to all.

The open-access publication of The Aletheia FrameworkTM is also intended to invite critique and collaboration from the global AI community to seek improvements. Rolls-Royce is open to cooperative innovation and will continue to share our work with key stakeholders and explore ways we can help each other progress further.

With a potentially significant contribution to make in the global conversation on AI, The Aletheia FrameworkTM has been shared with experts from UNESCO, which is currently undertaking a global consultation on AI ethics. Our specialists are already collaborating with the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London, researching potential neuroscience techniques that could be applied to identify any mutations or unintended biases in AI systems.

We have also shared this framework with the leaders of the United Kingdom Government’s Office for AI and the Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation to identify opportunities for cooperation.

Further, in the spirit of open collaboration, it is only fitting that we bring this conversation to Singapore and ASEAN. We have started to explore opportunities for its application here. These will build on our existing collaborations with Singapore government agencies and academia, which involve advanced research in areas such as data, smart manufacturing, and electrical technologies. Our local collaborative projects include the Rolls-Royce@NTU Corporate Lab as well as partnerships with the National Research Foundation, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research, and the Economic Development Board.

Artificial intelligence is a key component in Singapore’s Smart Nation journey. There is a strong impetus to leverage AI to advance the economy and wider society further. Beyond technology adoption, the pursuit to rethink business models and explore new areas of growth is very much aligned to Rolls-Royce’s vision for the future of AI. The Aletheia FrameworkTM would thus be able to offer significant contributions in promoting a vibrant and sustainable AI ecosystem in Singapore.

Our regional hub in Singapore has been an important centre for discovering new synergies with the UK. In particular, we have witnessed notable milestones in technology and innovation, including the UK-Singapore Innovation and Research Partnership signed in 2014. With the countries’ leading research and technology initiatives, The Aletheia FrameworkTM presents a way for us to more confidently scale trustworthy innovations that will transcend industries and borders.

Building trust in AI is a global issue and a worldwide effort. There is no reason why it cannot be created now. We believe that there are exciting opportunities for us to work together on this to promote the growth, wealth and health of our world.