Bot Ethics at Work

by | Oct 4, 2023 | Ethics, I-O Psychology, Workplace | 0 comments

AI Ethics Lessons from an Expert for the Workplace

It seems generative AI — specifically the current “poster child” ChatGPT among other contemporaries such as Google Bard and Bing — has taken center stage in the conversations in every sector of business. Marketing people laud AI for making content creation easier. The entertainment industry recently had writers and, to this day, still have actors on strike partially because of the influence of generative AI. Human resources professionals enjoy the ease of creating certain documents and doing research. The academic community has warned students against turning in assignments created by AI… and the list goes on.

Within membership organizations to which I belong, certain members of the business community have charged and empowered themselves to teach others how they use these systems as self-assessed experts. Among the techniques professed include giving the bot a prompt, honing the results with additional prompts, translating the result to another language, translating that translation back to English, and publishing the results as the user’s original works. Personally, because my graduate studies have drilled the importance of citing sources from which ideas are synthesized, I find claiming such AI-written content as one’s own intellectual property unethical.

Let me be clear: I personally use ChatGPT and Bard. I do find them helpful while conducting research, solving problems, and generating content. However, I have also found that they can deliver incorrect information plus poor grammar and syntax. Personally, I feel ethically that generative AI human users could use whatever responses from their prompts as part of the synthesis of original ideas by leveraging critical thinking. However, any published work or training module should undergo editing and rewriting in the voice of the author. Moreover, before training others, one should both have a strong set of knowledge, skills, and abilities (KSAs) as a set of core competencies with a willingness to abide by a code of ethics.

Ethics in Workplace Psychology and Generative AI

As a recent graduate in I-O Psychology, every single course referenced the American Psychological Association’s Code of Ethics (2017). Psychologists and scholar-practitioners of psychology abide by five principles:

  1. Beneficence and Nonmaleficence — Provide benefit and do no harm.
  2. Fidelity and Responsibility — Uphold standards of conduct, serve the best interests of others, and build trust as a professional.
  3. Integrity — Be accurate, honest, and truthful.
  4. Justice — Exercise fairness and justice by watching biases and working within the boundaries of one’s competence.
  5. Respect for People’s Rights and Dignity — Remain aware of and respectful of the rights of people and to safeguard their sense of self-determination.

Dr. Bruce Weinstein, the Ethics Guy, contributes to Forbes and speaks around the world about ethics. Within an article in Forbes, Dr. Weinstein (2023) outlines his five principles of ethical intelligence which strongly correlate to those of the APA:

  1. Do No Harm — Ethics holds both professionals and AI users accountable for their own behavior whereby one should take necessary precautions in word, deed, and action to refrain from causing another person harm. Examples of harm may include directly hurting people emotionally, physically, or mentally. However, causing damage to another person’s reputation or providing unsubstantiated information in the form of misinformation or lies could also violate this principle.
  2. Make Things Better — Acting ethically demands that people strive to work toward the benefit of others. Checking for accuracy in AI-generated content, defending synthesized thought through citation or empirical evidence, and putting in the work to add to the growing body of accurate knowledge can benefit others.
  3. Respect Others — Seek to be trustworthy by telling the truth. Avoid plagiarism and shortcuts. Protect others’ need for privacy.
  4. Be Fair — Strive to keep biases to a minimum. Give credit to sources appropriately.
  5. Care — Be human and be humane. By keeping in mind the prior four principles to provide benefit while avoiding harm while being respectful and fair, a person demonstrates care for others.

Bruce Weinstein offers a course at Udemy called: ChatGPT / AI Ethics: Ethical Intelligence in an AI World. I strongly recommend taking this course which may still be on sale as you read this.

Application in Management in the Workplace

In the workplace, while some actions may be legal, many leaders and workers can act ethically. These simple five tenets — either from the APA or The Ethics Guy — can pay dividends:

  1. By striving to provide benefits to others in the organization and those whom the organization serves, everyone receives value. What you give, so shall you receive.
  2. When transactional and coercive leadership prevails, harm befalls those affected by bully bosses or coworkers. Creating work cultures and environments that foster employee engagement and cohesion helps to prevent harm and provide benefits (Bridger, 2018).
  3. Adopting policies regarding data collection, the use of critical thinking to validate conclusions, giving credit where credit is due, and striving for transparency and honesty deliver a message of organizational justice and caring about the well-being of all (Rahim, 2019).
  4. Workplaces that emphasize respect for others and offer inclusion and diversity create opportunities for collaboration and growth while developing organizational commitment (Li et al, 2022).
  5. Employers who recognize the importance of fairness in employee selection, performance management, promotion, and even termination earn trust among the workforce and respect from clients, competitors, and peers.

Good leadership — leadership that brings about positive transformation — may leverage generative AI or other forms of artificial intelligence as tools to move their organizations forward. However, leading with a bit of humanity can go a long way to promoting a well-functioning workforce. Leaders can be blinded by the bottom line and act in less than ethical ways to attempt to achieve goals. This reminds me of a quote from The Hobbit by Thorin Oakenshield, the Dwarf King Under the Mountain, as he begged forgiveness of Bilbo on his deathbed, “If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.” If we value camaraderie, relationships, and trust through ethical behavior above pure money-based business, we might all find more satisfaction, meaning, and purpose in the work we do.

References

American Psychological Association. (2017). Ethical principles of psychologists and code of conduct (2002, amended effective June 1, 2010, and January 1, 2017). http://www.apa.org/ethics/code/index.html

Bridger, E. (2018). Employee engagement: A practical introduction, Second edition. Kogan Page.

Li, Y., Turek, K., Henkens, K., & Wang, M. (2022). Retaining retirement-eligible older workers through training participation: The joint implications of individual growth need and organizational climates. Journal of Applied Psychology. https://doi-org.libauth.purdueglobal.edu/10.1037/apl0001065.supp

Rahim, M. A. (2019). A Model of Emotional Intelligence and Job Performance. Applied Management Journal, 20, 38–55.

Weinstein, B. (2023). Why smart leaders use ChatGPT ethically and how they do it. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/bruceweinstein/2023/02/24/why-smart-leaders-use-chatgpt-ethically-and-how-they-do-it/?sh=9d983b3361b3

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