This month’s journal looks at a topic that has been front and centre of attention wherever you look these days. Will artificial intelligence (AI) take our jobs? Will it run amok and lead to the extinction of the human race? A healthy degree of scepticism is needed with regard to some of the more speculative notions feeding the hype surrounding AI. It is worth bearing in mind that this is a tool that is already proving to be beneficial in many areas of our lives. As far as our profession is concerned, it has already led to efficiency gains by automating many of the administrative aspects of our function.

Nevertheless, AI does pose challenges both for our profession and society at large. For governance professionals, the immediate challenge is keeping up with the rapid development of this technology. We cannot afford to take the view that addressing AI, along with other transformative technological innovations, is not in our job description. First and foremost, we need to develop a good understanding of the technology, and its potential capabilities and limitations, to be able to facilitate the board’s oversight of AI. The board, after all, has the ultimate responsibility for ensuring that any AI implementation is consistent with the business’s purpose and values.

We also need to stay up to date with the latest regulatory developments and this month’s journal will be a useful primer in this space. Our first cover story, for example, looks at the European Union (EU)’s AI Act that is likely to be in force by the end of this year and provisional regulations on AI usage that came into effect in the Chinese mainland in August 2023. We should also, however, be keeping tabs on the wider legal developments, both local and global. In the US for example, where no equivalent of the EU’s AI Act exists, litigation is nevertheless playing a role in testing the limits of this technology – particularly in areas such as data-privacy and copyright breaches.

Our Institute will, of course, be with you on this journey. Our focus is on keeping you up to date with all relevant developments via this journal and our CPD, guidance note and research output. The most recent guidance note published by our Technology Interest Group, for example, looks at the risks and opportunities of implementing AI tools, and at the crucial roles governance professionals are playing in advising directors and executives on how these can be best managed. The guidance – An Overview of Managing the Risks and Opportunities & Responsible Deployment of AI Tools – provides a good one-stop shop for all the main risk management issues involved in AI governance.

Finally, I would like to add that the AI revolution has only just begun and it is likely to transform our lives and work in ways we can barely imagine. Going forward, as the technology develops, there will be an increasing need for good governance to ensure that AI is used in a responsible and ethical manner. In this context, in addition to keeping up to date with the regulatory and legal developments discussed above, our focus ultimately needs to be on the ethics involved – including the implications for fairness, transparency, accountability and privacy.

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