Business leaders willing to sidestep ethical and security concerns to keep up with AI

31/05/2024

62 PERCENT of business leaders said moving too slowly poses a greater risk than moving swiftly when it comes to tech innovation, claiming they were willing to sidestep security and ethical concerns to keep up, according to a major study from AND Digital.

The findings were revealed in The CEO Digital Divide: are you accelerating enterprise value or slowing it down? report, which surveyed 600 global CEOs and was conducted by independent research company Censuswide.

The research indicated that the fear of falling behind technology innovation is a major driver behind this, with 55 percent of respondents revealing the pace at which new technologies are emerging is causing alarm among the senior leadership team.

Worryingly, a further 64 percent of CEOs said they are happy to invest in new technologies without a clear ROI in order to keep up with the pace, which leaves businesses vulnerable to data leakages, errors and delays.

The rapid global development of AI technologies further adds to this concern, with 44 percent of CEOs polled revealing they feel their staff aren’t ready to handle AI adoption, leaving them to fall behind the AI curve.

Encouragingly however, 68 percent of CEOs are prioritising ethical considerations in relation to AI adoption, having highlighted it as a major concern. This demonstrates that a majority of senior executives are taking the ethical implications of widespread AI use seriously, despite a more general desire to implement new technologies quickly at all costs.

Lisa Talia Moretti, User Research Principal and Digital Sociologist at AND Digital commented: “It is both disappointing and concerning to see business leaders prioritising speed over safety, security and ethics. We live in a world facing an increasing number of complex problems and continuing to implement a reckless experimentation strategy of ‘move fast and break things’ is dangerous. We have broken enough things. CEOs and business leaders need to set aside binary thinking and stop pitting ethics against speed. A well-designed ethics framework can help to mitigate risk and advance innovation and support the development of more agile governance processes so that organisations can create the most value from technology for their customers, organisation and society as a whole. An ‘AND’ rather than an ‘OR’ mindset will ensure a more responsible approach to experimentation and innovation; one that prioritises a group of values rather than just one. While the urgency to innovate and adopt new technologies is important for organisations, it cannot be done at the cost of everything else. Leaders may be focused on what they can gain by moving quickly, but increasingly governments, regulators and a more educated public are increasingly focused on what they stand to lose if safety and security aren’t prioritised. It would be wise for business leaders to start seeing both perspectives and adopt a more balanced approach to tech innovation. All the tech in the world can do nothing to restore trust once it’s broken.”

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