How Businesses Can Build Confidence in AI and the Metaverse

Business and IT leaders could consider proceeding on three fronts to improve DEI as they develop their AI and metaverse offerings.

3 Min Read
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Today’s technology companies are tasked with earning trust as they navigate an environment of heightened political polarization, social unrest, and complex privacy concerns.

This is the context in which AI and the metaverse are emerging. So far, organizations have been in an all-out race to gain early mover advantage and market share by expeditiously bringing these technologies to market. In this environment, how do we build confidence in intelligent and immersive platforms for all to use?

The rapid improvement of generative AI is raising such concerns. In March 2023, a joint letter signed by several leaders from the AI and tech communities called for a six-month pause in training AI systems more powerful than the existing state of art. In June 2023, the EY Trusted Metaverse Survey revealed that, while tech companies recognize DEI implications, 39% of survey respondents say business interests could trump user rights such as accessibility, diversity, and inclusiveness. 

Addressing these challenges will require creativity. In some cases, technology itself might offer a solution. Synthetic data could be useful in mitigating some forms of AI bias -- for instance, by boosting the diversity of datasets to make them more representative of underlying populations.

Related:Making the Most of Generative AI in Your Business: Practical Tips and Tricks

More broadly, business leaders could consider proceeding on three fronts to improve DE&I as they develop their AI and metaverse offerings:

1. Ensure development teams are diverse

Product development teams with more diversity in life experience and demographic mix -- and who team inclusively while demonstrating inclusive behaviors and decision-making -- will likely be more sensitive to bias, and better able to recognize and challenge it. Meanwhile, teams that have more cognitive diversity may be best equipped to develop the creative and human-centric solutions needed to address these challenges.

2. Work to address economic inequality

Companies embracing AI could prioritize strategies that address job displacement and promote economic inclusiveness.

This includes investing in reskilling programs to help displaced workers transition into new roles. It also includes inclusive hiring practices, for instance by ensuring that AI recruitment algorithms are transparent and audited for bias. Collaboration with governments and civil society organizations could help address AI-driven economic inequality by reintegrating displaced workers, promoting inclusive entrepreneurship, and encouraging equitable access to AI technologies.

Related:The Evolving Ethics of AI: What Every Tech Leader Needs to Know

3. Build ethical frameworks for inclusive design

Ethical frameworks for inclusive design are imperative to help reduce the risk of perpetuating biases in AI and metaverse systems. Inclusive design requires diverse data collection that accurately represents the demographics and experiences of target populations. It seeks to weed out biases by incorporating feedback from diverse user groups in testing and evaluation.

The deployment of AI and the metaverse in the workplace creates new opportunities to boost DEI. These technologies could help mitigate bias while increasing inclusiveness and cognitive diversity. But they also raise new challenges, and without careful consideration, could play a role in perpetuating biases and exacerbating inequality. To address these challenges and maximize the potential of these technologies, business leaders should build diverse development teams, undertake initiatives to address inequality and build inclusive frameworks. Through steps such as these, businesses can build workplaces of the future that are not just powered by transformative technologies, but also inclusive and equitable.

About the Author(s)

Edwina Fitzmaurice

Global Chief Customer Success Officer, EY

Edwina Fitzmaurice is EY Client Technology’s Chief Customer Success Officer. In this role, Edwina leads the successful technology delivery for EY’s $45BN client services in audit, tax, strategy, transactions, and consulting. Edwina heads up 10 Regional Technology Hubs across the US, EMEIA, China and Japan focused on technology adoption and innovation. Edwina developed the global metaverse strategy for EY and is leading the transformation of EY with Artificial Intelligence, taking a keen focus on employees and their experience with AI.

Edwina is on the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council and chairs the Governance and Nominating Committee as a board member of Women in Innovation. She is an Adjunct Associate Professor in Trinity College Dublin, lecturing on emerging technologies and is a mentor for TechStars which works with leading startups in Silicon Valley. Edwina is an advisor to the EY Foundation on technology implication for DEI, and a Board Ambassador for EY’s Center for Board Matters on technology governance.

Over the course of her career, Edwina has been a CEO, COO and CEO of European financial services businesses and held multiple board positions on public and private boards. She was formerly the EY Global Consulting Markets and Business Development Leader, responsible for revenue of $10BN across 140 markets.

Karyn Twaronite

Global Vice Chair of DE&I, EY

As EY Global Vice Chair – Diversity, Equity & Inclusiveness, Karyn Twaronite drives innovations that maximize the strength and effectiveness of EY personnel by embracing diversity. She oversees EY’s integrated approach to diversity and inclusiveness (D&I) - the EY Culture Change Continuum: a roadmap for success, which enables leaders to foster an inclusive environment, where people can better leverage their diverse skills, experiences and cultural backgrounds.

A member of the Ernst & Young LLP Executive Committee, Karyn co-chairs the EY Global Diversity & Inclusiveness Steering Committee and the EY Americas Inclusiveness Consulting Council. She began her EY career as a tax professional more than 20 years ago before shifting her focus to help shape the organization’s talent, human resources and D&I leadership culture. Karyn works with clients and stakeholders in these efforts around the world.

Karyn earned a BSc in Accounting from Miami University (Ohio) and an MSc in Taxation from Fordham University. She is certified in Strategic Human Resource Management from Harvard University Graduate School of Business and a licensed CPA in New York.

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