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Bosses want to see explainable AI

Almost one-third of UK bosses surveyed in the latest PwC global CEO survey plan to use artificial intelligence in their businesses – but explainable AI is critical

Most CEOs believe artificial intelligence (AI) will significantly change the way they do business in the next five years, according to PwC’s annual CEO survey.

In the survey of 1,378 CEOs in 91 territories, 35% of UK bosses said they have plans to introduce AI into the business in the next three years, but a similar proportion have no plans at all (36%, compared with the global average of 23%).

Of those who have no plans to pursue AI, 76% gave the deficit in supply of skilled workers as their primary reason.

Among UK CEOs, 42% said they believe AI will become as smart as humans, but 42% disagree. PwC found that UK CEOs were less convinced AI would remove human bias (32%) compared with the global figure of 48%. But almost half of CEOs globally believe biases will still remain.

The vast majority of CEOs (82%) agreed that AI-based decisions need to be explainable in order to be trusted.

In the UK, 70% of bosses support government-led national strategies and policies on AI, and believe the government should play an integral role in AI development (63%).

Just under half of the UK CEOs surveyed (47%) think organisations should be allowed to self-regulate the use of AI, while slightly fewer (44%) disagree.

Almost half (49%) believe the government should provide a safety net for workers displaced by AI, but 41% disagree. Nearly two-thirds (65%) of UK CEOs think the government should incentivise organisations to retrain workers whose jobs are automated.

Read more about explainable AI

  • The answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything is 42, according to Deep Thought in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy – but experts need to explain AI decisions.
  • Bias in AI algorithms can produce harmful results, but it can also help train models. This third part of a three-part series on AI ethics explains the pros and cons of AI bias.

“There is clearly plenty of anticipation among business leaders about the opportunities that lie ahead when it comes to AI,” said Euan Cameron, UK artificial intelligence leader at PwC. “But on the question of how this world should be governed and regulated, opinions remain divided.

“Businesses have high expectations for what AI could deliver, so it is important that AI policies around the world are fit for purpose. Regulation should not stifle innovation, but it should make sure we are creating a future that works for everyone.”

Cameron added: “Leaders and AI experts need to work closely with policymakers, regulators and standards institutions to ensure that the right governance is in place to support their ambitions, but, crucially, also keeps wider society and workers’ best interests at heart.”

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