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Telefónica Deutschland sets out principles for ethical AI


Telefónica Deutschland has laid out six principles for the ethical use of data and artificial intelligence (AI).

AI is an important component of Germany’s digitisation plan, including the government's AI strategy. Key areas of potential include healthcare, improving traffic flow, optimising the supply chain and managing humanitarian disasters, as well as more low-key applications such as voice-activated smartphones and smart thermostats.

Great responsibility

A blog from Telefónica Deutschland said that being so central to this field brings “great responsibility as a telecommunications company”.

It noted, “After all, we not only make digital applications possible, but also apply algorithms and AI ourselves.”

For example, Telefónica is using AI to optimise its mobile network, it has its Aura digital assistant and, through Telefónica NEXT, uses data analytics for traffic visualisation and planning.

Telefónica Deutschland has now committed using AI only in accordance with six ethical principles. The standards are primarily for Telefónica but are also aimed at partners and suppliers.

"Our ethical principles for the use of artificial intelligence place people at the centre,” said Valentina Daiber, Chief Officer for Legal and Corporate, Affairs, Telefónica Deutschland. “At Telefónica Deutschland, we assess projects with artificial intelligence according to these ethical principles.”

Six ethical principles

The principles are:
1. Fair and accessible to all – “digitisation is not a closed event”.   
2. AI should serve society: “We will overcome people's scepticism only if artificial intelligence creates tangible benefits for the individual”.
3. Not everything that is possible is morally legitimate – artificial intelligence must be limited.
4. The use of data must be transparent and the data protected.
5. Data from cooperation with third parties must withstand testing.   
6. People must remain the highest ethical authority.

Markus Haas, CEO, Telefónica Deutschland, said, “We need a new Digital Pact so that everyone benefits from digitisation”.