AI. Chat GPT. Love it or hate it….it’s really making an impact, and plenty of conversation of late. The potential for AI to accelerate green technology “tipping points” has been noted in a recent report by the London School of Economics Grantham Research Institute (GRI) on Climate Change and the Environment, by boosting intelligence in sectors such as fusion and solar, quantum chemistry, alternative protein design and many others”. Others also believe that AI can be an essential tool in the fight against climate change, including in measuring emissions, forecasting hazards, managing climate vulnerabilities and exposures and facilitating climate research, finance and education. Furthermore, the potential of AI for social good is being investigated, including interdisciplinary partnerships centred around AI applications towards SDGs.
Concerns continue, however, and Ethical Partners believes, rightfully so. UN Women recently reported that in their global analysis of 133 AI systems across industries, 44.2% demonstrated gender bias. Perhaps this might have something to do with the fact that women make up only 22% of artificial intelligence workers globally. Nonetheless, addressing this bias will be key to correcting this, in many ways, self-fulfilling circle.
And of course, in an age of increasing cybersecurity concerns, and the human rights implications of privacy and data issues, AI needs much clearer and stronger regulation. This is why Ethical Partners was proud to join the Investor Alliance for Human Rights Investor Statement in support of Digital Rights Regulations EU AI Intelligence Act earlier this year. This statement reiterates the need to “incentivize and enable responsible development and use of AI that empowers users, communities, and society, rather than dividing and discriminating against them”. The full investor statement can be found here: https://investorsforhumanrights.org/sites/default/files/attachments/2023-02/FINAL%20Investor%20Statement%20AI%20Act%20w-signatories%202-14-23_0.pdf
Our support of this call for stronger regulation on AI is additional to our previous with the Collective Impact Coalition for Digital Inclusion’s Investor collaboration on Ethical AI. Under this collaboration, Ethical Partner has committed to encourage our portfolio companies, where relevant, to adopt meaningful human rights impact assessment requirements whenever developing and deploying AI, to expand their transparency on AI and to mandate stakeholder and rightsholder participation, as well as implement safeguards ,remedy and accountability for AI human rights risks. Through which Ethical Partners has supported direct engagement with Twitter and Uber. Whilst we do not hold these stocks, the learnings here are then applied to our engagements with ASX listed companies, and we furthermore believe that the standard setting in these large technology companies will be crucial to ensuring the adoption of ethical AI practices globally.
AI is an issue that Ethical Partners has also actively engaged with WES on during 2022, and additionally, was an area of focus for us in our Child Rights engagements and report with UNICEF Australia (see page 55). https://assets.website-files.com/5b4d31c5e11a78eff0022917/631e8c8df450842cb6c2f010_Ethical-Partners-Unicef%20Report_Part%20B%20Final.pdf.
We were also able to discuss our ESG focus on AI in relation to child and teen mental health, which is also an increasing ESG focus for Ethical Partners for 2023, with Money Management late last year https://www.moneymanagement.com.au/features/social-media-and-esg-how-ethical-digital-world
We look forward to continuing these engagements and continuing to accelerate the focus on this issue during the coming year with a wider group of ASX listed companies and stakeholders.
Ethical Partners are pleased to see Australia take the next steps to implement mandatory climate reporting with the release of draft climate standards, which we provided feedback on.
Ethical Partners have continuously called for the provision of high quality, comparable data on company’s climate governance and carbon metrics, which we believe is imperative for investors to fulfil the potential of responsible investment.
Ethical Partners have been proud to have been active supporters of the TNFD Forum over the past few years, and to provide regular feedback on the development of the official TNFD recommendations, which were launched in December, as well as to be active members of the RIAA Natural Capital Working Group.