Industry launches Taskforce to tackle AI ethics concerns

chatGPT2_newThe Advertising Association has formed a new AI Taskforce, bringing together senior representatives from across its membership, with the aim of building a coordinated policy approach to the technology that appears to be taking virtually every industry by storm.

The Taskforce meets for the first time this week in recognition of the rapid need to establish ethical safeguards, develop industry guidelines and work with the Advertising Standards Authority, where appropriate, to ensure the use of AI in advertising campaigns is transparent and legal, decent, honest, and truthful.

It will also explore the productivity and creativity gains for the industry and wider economic benefits for the UK, following AI’s increasing prominence as a transformative technology. The ultimate goal, however, is to ensure that advertising and marketing businesses are responsible producers, deployers and end-users of AI.

The Taskforce will also aim to ensure the UK is the best place to develop and champion AI in advertising and marketing to reinforce its position as a world-leading hub, and seek to increase the standard and clarity of industry policy on AI ethics and usage – informed by policy in related areas, such as data ethics.

While separate studies paint a different picture of how widespread AI has become in the industry – from being an essential part of the marketer’s toolkit to how ethics issues are hampering implementation at larger companies – there are escalating concerns over the UK Government’s plans for “light touch” regulation of the technology.

The first signs of discontent emerged in June, when consumer group BEUC, whose UK members include Which? and Citizen’s Advice, urged all data protection regulators to “launch investigations now” into generative AI and “not wait idly for all kinds of consumer harm to have happened before they take action”.

A month later, the UK’s Ada Lovelace Institute called for an urgent rethink, citing severely limited legal protections for consumers to seek redress when AI goes wrong.

And, earlier this month, MPs, publishers and unions joined the battle against ministers’ refusal to follow the EU and US, which are developing legislation to help protect consumers from potential threats posed by the technology.

AA chief executive Stephen Woodford said: “The establishment of our AI Taskforce comes at a critical time for AI and its use, not just in the UK but in advertising around the world. The Taskforce will focus on the ethical usage of AI in advertising as well as helping develop the UK’s role globally for AI’s influence on marketing and advertising innovation.

The Taskforce will be co-chaired by two member organisations of the AA and its Front Foot network. Google, will be represented by advertising industry relations manager EMEA Yves Schwarzbart, while VCCP is to be represented by managing partner and head of social innovation Alex Dalman.

Dalman commented: “We believe that AI can unlock tremendous potential in advertising and marketing, and that generative AI in particular will be an accelerator of human creativity and innovation — but we also believe that it must be used responsibly. So, we’re excited to be part of the AI Taskforce, where we can help to guide the industry through its latest transformation and participate in important conversations about policy, ethics, and societal impact while keeping a focus on the incredible opportunities that AI presents.”

Schwarzbart added: “With AI being the most profound technology shift that humanity is working on today, it is only right for the UK advertising industry to consider how we can be bold, yet responsible, in the way we harness the potential of AI. I am grateful to the Advertising Association for the opportunity to co-chair this important workstream together with Alex, and I look forward to helping play my part in finding the industry’s collective voice on AI and driving these discussions forward.”

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