AI and the metaverse

Today’s technology companies are tasked with gaining trust while navigating an environment of heightened political polarization, social unrest, and complex privacy concerns.

This is the context in which AI and the metaverse emerge. So far, organizations have been in an all-out race to gain early bird advantage and market share by expeditiously bringing these technologies to market. In this environment, how do we build trust in smart and compelling platforms for everyone to use?

The rapid advancement of generative AI raises such concerns. In March 2023, a joint letter signed by several leaders from the AI ​​and technology communities called for a six-month pause in training AI systems more powerful than the current state of the art. In June 2023, EY Trusted Metaverse Survey revealed that while technology companies recognize the implications of DEI, 39% of respondents say that business interests can override consumer rights such as accessibility, diversity and inclusion.

Addressing these challenges will require creativity. In some cases, technology itself can offer a solution. Synthetic data can be useful for mitigating some forms of AI bias—for example, by increasing the diversity of data sets to make them more representative of underlying populations.

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

1. Make sure development teams are diverse

Product development teams with greater diversity in life experience and demographic mix—and who come together while demonstrating inclusive behavior and decision-making—are likely to be more sensitive to bias and better able to recognize and challenge it. Meanwhile, teams that have greater cognitive diversity may be best equipped to develop the creative and human-centered 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 inclusion.

This includes investing in reskilling programs to help displaced workers move into new roles. It also includes inclusive hiring practices, such as ensuring that AI recruiting algorithms are transparent and audited for bias. Collaboration with governments and civil society organizations can help address economic inequality caused by AI by reintegrating displaced workers, fostering inclusive entrepreneurship, and promoting equitable access to AI technologies.

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3. Build ethical frameworks for inclusive design

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

The introduction of AI and the metaverse into the workplace creates new opportunities to drive DEI. These technologies could help mitigate bias while increasing inclusion and cognitive diversity. But they also raise new challenges and, without careful consideration, could play a role in perpetuating bias and exacerbating inequality. To address these challenges and maximize the potential of these technologies, business leaders must build diverse development teams, take initiatives to address inequality, and build inclusive frameworks. Through steps like these, businesses can build the workplaces of the future that are not only powered by transformative technologies, but are also inclusive and fair.

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