Why Companies Should Want to Be Held Liable for Their Artificial Intelligence

Why Companies Should Want to Be Held Liable for Their Artificial Intelligence

As the world waits for self-driving vehicles to hit the market, automakers and insurance companies continue to debate the topic of liability. If an autonomous car hits another vehicle, is the driver responsible or the car? Tesla surprised experts recently by stating that drivers should keep both hands on the wheel at all times in its self-driving cars, which goes against the thinking that these cars will free drivers from responsibility.

Volvo, on the other hand, has a different view of the liability manufacturers face for their automobiles. In late 2015, the company admitted it will take the blame when drivers get into an accident in one of their self-driving vehicles. Volvo sees the need for strict regulations on manufacturers developing autonomous vehicles and believes liability will provide the incentive businesses need to thoroughly test their vehicles before delivering them to market.

Establishing Liability

Volvo’s stance is notable in an era when businesses across all industries are increasingly shifting toward automation. The liability question comes into play in almost every type of business, especially as leaders move toward sophisticated solutions powered by artificial intelligence. When a company shifts toward machines to power every aspect of business operations, where does the liability fall if an error is made?

In the coming years, artificial intelligence will become more fully entrenched in the way businesses conduct their work. In fact, experts predict the technology will replace a huge portion of all jobs within the next decade. While humans aren’t immune to error, technology can easily go astray and cause serious issues in a short amount of time, whether it’s through bugs in the system or a communication problem.

One area already being transformed by A.I. is wealth management, which has long relied on the expertise of trained advisors to guide investors. That advice is gradually being shifted to software platforms that can often do a better job than humans at predicting the market. Wealthfront is so confident in its software, the company has made the assertion that it can outperform human financial advisors. As a result, Wealthfront is betting its entire reputation on its technology being able to make money for its clients, going so far as stating that it will not refund customers for any losses that come as a result of its software’s recommendations.

Wealthfront’s approach brings important questions to the forefront. Traditionally, financial advisors have stood behind their recommendations, staking their reputations on the advice they give. Although no human advisor can guarantee every recommendation will work out, investors may be warier of trusting their finances to a software solution. This is especially true since artificial intelligence may not immediately have the ability to customize recommendations to each client’s unique circumstances and expectations. As machine learning allows such software to grow more sophisticated, this may become less of a concern, but there still will be a period of adjustment for the many investors who are accustomed to the human touch.

Solving Business Problems

For some software-reliant businesses, however, accepting liability is part of providing high-quality customer service. One company that exemplifies this approach is Signifyd, an artificial intelligence platform that protects e-commerce merchants against credit card fraud. Unlike Wealthfront, which helps customers on the personal side, Signifyd solves a business problem for e-commerce companies, putting measures in place to prevent any incoming fraudulent credit card transactions. Without fraud protection, businesses are often held responsible for questionable purchases, losing the money they would have made on any products, as well as shipping costs and chargeback fees.

Leaders at companies like Signifyd realize that the best way to win customer trust is to guarantee financial results for the services they are offer. In its space, the fraud protection provider is actually one of only three companies offering this type of guarantee, giving it an edge over the competition. Signifyd’s model utilizes real-time machine learning to predict fraudulent transactions based on past behavior, promising to cover any mistakes its platform might make. This includes the costs the merchant would have otherwise paid for shipping and chargeback fees, as well as lost merchandise. With over 5,000 merchants on its platform, Signifyd demonstrates potential demand for business solutions that accept liability for their artificial intelligence.

From autonomous cars to financial advice to fraud risk, artificial intelligence is making a serious impact on the way businesses serve their customers. Each of these industries faces unique risks daily. However, it’s important that businesses realize the many benefits that can come from absorbing any risk, rather than passing that risk onto their customers. When businesses choose to guarantee the services they provide, they build trust with customers and increase the odds those customers will recommend their services to others.

This post is part of our contributor series. It is written and published independently of TNW.

Read next: The life of a chatbot in ecommerce industry