Getting to grips with AI black boxes

Technology circles are awash with talk about AI risks, ethics, responsibility, and trust. Principles and frameworks abound. But these are proving awkward in practice, partly because the purpose, nature and inner workings of AI and algorithmic systems can easily be shielded from view. As a result, users, auditors, regulators, legislators, and others often have little […]

What the UK’s exam grade results fiasco tells us about AI and algorithmic transparency

The UK government’s use of algorithms to grade student exam results resulted in students taking to the streets and generated swathes of negative media coverage. Many grades were seen as unfair, even arbitrary. Others argue the algorithms and grades were a reflection of a broken educational system. The government would do well to understand the root causes […]

The EU’s new AI regulation puts trust and transparency to the fore. Here’s what it says

The European Commission’s (disclaimer: former employer) new legislative package on artificial intelligence has drawn plenty of attention for banning high risk uses such as live facial recognition and social credit scoring. That transparency will be mandatory has generated less ink. Yet it is a critical ingredient of the Commission’s risk-based, trust-centric approach and, as such, […]

Is the coronavirus a crisis, disaster or emergency?

The coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an orgy of news stories, commentary and analysis in which the terms crisis, disaster and emergency have been used almost interchangeably. According to Muckrack’s Trends research tool, here’s what the media have been using over the past year: These three terms are closely related and overlap significantly, yet each […]

Why deepfakes should be on the reputational radar

Concern is widespread that artificially generated ‘deepfake’ videos pose a major potential problem for those targeted, be they companies, CEOs, celebrities, academics and commentators, or politicians. A new study of 14,678 deepfake videos by cybersecurity company Deeptrace suggests otherwise. Deepfakes may generate millions of views, yet the great majority (96%) are pornographic and have little […]

How to manage reputational risk

Last week I had the fortune to be invited to speak on the topic of reputational risk management to MBA students and assorted internal auditors, risk managers, HR and communications executives at the Othman Yeop Abdullah Graduate School of Business at the Universiti Utara Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur. Reputation risk may not be as high […]

Why VW’s electric driving campaign is worth the risk

Most companies expressly avoid mentioning past scandals in their advertising. Not so VW, which makes its 2015 diesel emissions crisis the starting point for its latest ad ‘Hello Light’. The ad is clearly intended to signal VW’s shift to electric driving, while drawing on the company’s glory days of the 1960s and 1970s. It is […]

It’s time to ditch the term Public Relations

It sounds good in principle. A sign in Cairo airport directs passengers to Egypt Air Public Relations. In practice, the desk turns out to be manned by a customer service team. The team is friendly, polite and helpful – a credit to the airline. It constitutes good public relations, even if it is not PR […]

Book review: Rethinking Reputational Risk, by Anthony Fitzsimmons & Derek Atkins

Since the start of the year a rumour has been swirling that Facebook has been using a then-and-now facial recognition photo-sharing challenge to collect data about users and improve its AI algorithms. The social network denies it started or is involved with the challenge. That people suspect Facebook of being involved, and that the rumour went viral, is indicative […]

Navigating the data breach vendor blame game

Pointing the finger at others during an incident or crisis is a tempting proposition. It diverts attention, helps the company avoid responsibility, and means it doesn’t have to address the underlying problem. At least, that’s the idea. Playing the blame game can be appropriate when your company is clearly not guilty. However, in most other […]