Data ethics

This article is part of a series of articles on data ethics. Read more.

Need to know

  • The ethical development of AI in marketing makes good business sense but companies should consider their moral agency as a good business decision
  • Companies are deploying AI for a variety of purposes, most often used by marketers for product or content recommendation, customer segmentation, social listening and sentiment analysis, search, predictive analytics/forecasting, and personalization
  • It is essential to provide a broader context of risk evaluation for AI in order to address the ethical issues specifically within the marketing function
  • There are three main risks in machine learning: data bias, lack of data transparency, data monopolies
  • Data Bias is very difficult to address because often it is not identified until the downstream impact on choices is noticed
  • Risks are embedded in marketing technologies leveraging AI, such as search and targeting, because it is devoted to delivering to customers what they want to see
  • Avoiding bias requires being conscious of data reasoning and even developing specialists in identifying patterns of bias. The key is diversifying the people who are designing and diversifying the decision-makers deploying AI marketing tools
  • Data monopolies, whether the data is held by big pharma companies or by Facebook and Google, has become such a concern that some have called for a Magna Carta or Bill of Rights to protect data ownership. Others have made a case for more radical reform by the imposition of anti-trust legislation given how closely these companies can resemble utilities
  • On the risk spectrum, reputation and trust are becoming more of a premium and, therefore, they should be high priority throughout the marketing function
  • The diversification of boardroom talent is essential because better questions will be asked and the risk and audit committees will be able to provide the multifaceted fiduciary oversight they were designed to provide in the deployment of marketing AI. This not only has bottom and top-line benefits but benefits civil society