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Understanding the legal risks of deploying AI in businesses

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Carole Piovesan, Litigator and Team Lead on AI, Privacy, Cybersecurity and Data Management group at McCarthy Tétrault
Carole Piovesan, Litigator and Team Lead on AI, Privacy, Cybersecurity and Data Management group at McCarthy Tétrault
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Artificial intelligence (AI) is bringing an array of opportunities and challenges to businesses. Not least of these new changes is legal risk.

DX Journal spoke with Carole Piovesan, Litigator and Team Lead on AI, Privacy, Cybersecurity and Data Management group at McCarthy Tetrault, to find out how AI will affect businesses, who should be addressing the legal risks AI poses to society and how the legal practice itself is being affected by AI.

DX Journal: To what extent does AI pose a legal risk to enterprises looking to incorporate this technology?

Carole Piovesan: Since there’s a lot of talk about AI, let me start with a very short definition. AI is an umbrella term that encompasses different processes such as natural language processing (like Siri), image recognition, machine learning and deep learning. The “AI” that draws a lot of attention these days – both negative and positive – is usually machine learning and deep learning, both of which involve self-teaching and self-executing systems.

AI offers a lot of opportunity for businesses looking to improve efficiencies and cut costs. Depending on the purpose of the system, however, it can present certain legal risks.

For instance, AI systems require lots of data to train systems on how to accurately perform a certain task. Access to data is largely governed by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act which sets parameters for how to legally access, store and use data, among other things. Companies need to understand how to comply with privacy legislation to avoid reprimand or sanction. In addition, amassing huge quantities of data could lead to competition issues around data monopolies, among other things.

Then there is the issue of liability where a system does something it shouldn’t have done or doesn’t do something it should have done. In self-teaching and self-executing systems, questions arise as to who should bear liability for harm caused by the system. This leads to the corollary issue of proof. The pathway to a particular output for these systems is notoriously difficult to understand.

There is a whole movement around increasing the interpretability of AI systems, particularly where systems are used in matters that directly affect human life such as medical diagnosis and criminal law.  

DX Journal: Which industries are likely to be most affected by the legal risks that AI brings to businesses?

Piovesan: I wouldn’t think of it as industries that will be most affected by AI, but tasks. Every industry has the potential to be affected by advanced technologies including deep learning systems. The idea is that AI systems can perform routine, repetitive tasks better, faster and cheaper than humans. Every industry has processes that are repetitive in nature and that can be improved by AI.

That said, in the near-term, industries that are expected to be deeply affected by AI include transportation, medicine, law, insurance, accounting, manufacturing, retail, financial services, among others. Sectors that are less obvious but that are benefitting from AI include oil and gas, and mineral extraction, in which AI is being used to more safely and efficiently extract natural resources.

DX Journal: What should businesses focus on as they begin to onboard AI tools?

Piovesan: Depending on the purpose and complexity of the technology, business will want to develop a better understanding of AI technologies, as well as risk management strategies for incorporating more sophisticated technologies into their operations. Increasingly we’re seeing an interest in creating legal assessment tools specific to AI technologies. 

DX Journal: Who is addressing the legal risks created by AI in society?

Piovesan: Many different actors have a role to play in ensuring safe, beneficial and productive innovation. I would say that provincial and federal governments need to kick-start a dialogue with the academic and private sectors around issues specific to AI technology. One critical area for greater discussion is with respect to the interpretability of AI systems, and requirements for explainability for systems used with direct impact on human rights and well-being.

The EU and UK are examples of jurisdictions that are undergoing regular consultations to inform a possible regulatory framework on AI. Canada has also done such consultations but I think more is needed.

The academic and private sectors are tasked with advancing innovation but, as we have seen with the 2017 Asilomar principles, for example, they can also lead in defining appropriate standards and codes of conduct to promote responsible and productive research and innovation.

Canada is well-situated in the AI field. Some of the foundational thought-leaders of deep learning are based in Canada. We have tremendous academic talent here.

Plus, the federal government announced $125 million in research and development focused AI and nearly $1 billion over 5 years to promote innovation superclusters.

These announcements made international headlines which is important to show the world that Canada is the place to be for research and innovation (not to mention we are known for having the second largest tech sector outside Silicon Valley).

Finally, Canada is a well-respected international player and AI is technology will require a coordinated international approach, especially with respect to data sharing and in the military and defence contexts. Canada is very well placed to add-value to any international dialogue on AI.

DX Journal: How is AI changing the legal practice itself?

Piovesan: AI presents tremendous opportunity in the legal profession. As lawyer become more exposed to and comfortable with the technology, we will increasingly incorporate AI into all aspects of our practice.

The law firm can use AI to streamline internal processes such as mandate scoping. By understanding how much a typical piece of legal work costs, law firms can more quickly and accurately estimate new work that is similar in scope.

At my firm, McCarthy Tétrault, we’re using AI in M&A due diligence work. In so doing, we’re able to complete due diligence for an M&A transaction in a fraction of time and for a fraction of traditional costs.

AI is also being introduced on the litigation side through systems that can complete legal research of concepts. It is also being used in e-discovery to increasingly categorize documents and predict relevance.

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Financial Services

KPMG says blockchain ‘critical’ to industry, joins advocacy group

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Photo by William Bout on Unsplash
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KPMG has joined the Wall Street Blockchain Alliance as a corporate member and has declared blockchain as “critical to the industry,”

Blockchain is gaining momentum across different industries as its benefits start to become clear. The concept of a distributed and transparent ledger gives businesses a way to improve efficiency, cut down waiting times and open new revenue streams.

KPMG is the latest major firm to publicly commit to furthering adoption by joining a working group.

The Alliance

The Wall Street Blockchain Alliance (WSBA) is a non-profit trade organisation that’s working to advocate the introduction of the blockchain in financial services markets worldwide.

KPMG said it’s joining the group so it can work with leading blockchain experts and help to promote use of the technology within the finance industry. It’s pursuing several long-term goals, including an improved customer experience and reduced operating costs.

“Blockchain is maturing toward the production phase and it is clear that it has the potential to dramatically impact financial services by improving outcomes critical to the industry such as cost of operations, capital consumption, customer experience and in some cases new business models and revenues,” said Eamonn Maguire, global leader of KPMG’s Digital Ledger services.

KPMG’s decision to join the WSBA will give the alliance more visibility as it develops standards for blockchain use within the financial markets. A common set of standards will allow for those within the industry to collaborate on a shared blockchain platform.

Current members

Existing corporate members of the alliance include Calypso Technology, RiskSpan, OTC Exchange Network, BlockEx and blockchain analytics platform Blockchain Intelligence Group.

The addition of KPMG will provide a direct bridge between the predominantly tech-centric existing members and the industry that the alliance intends to transform.

“We look forward to collaborating with them, as our global members and indeed the world, begin to implement blockchain innovations across financial markets and beyond,” said Ron Quaranta, Chairman of the WSBA.

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Marketers like Chipotle are turning to consulting firms to help transform their businesses — and ad agencies are nervous

Business Insider

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Chipotle Mexican Grill
Photo courtesy Chipotle Mexican Grill
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Here’s why ad agencies need to worry about consulting firms: traditional ad shops can’t handle burrito orders.

At least, that’s what the consultants say.

Chipotle has recently tapped Deloitte Digital to build and maintain its Apple and Android Apps as it looks to implement mobile ordering across its network of restaurants. On the surface, that may not seem like that big a deal. It’s just one app after all.

But as consulting giants like Accenture and Deloitte circle around the ad agency business, it’s partnerships like the Chipotle app that some in the ad industry see as a harbinger of things to come.

They say that while traditional and even digital ad agencies are still great at making ads and buying media to make sure they get in front of the right people, they aren’t as well equipped to make apps that are so vital to a company’s business – let alone all the billing, data collection and logistical implementation required.

And as digital customer experiences become a crucial part of marketing – people are literally holding a company’s brand in their hands after all – the argument is that consulting companies, with their informational services heritage, are best equipped to handle this kind of work. And the more that the Deloittes of the world can get their hooks into marketer’s operations, the more ad assignments they’ll be entrusted with – which puts classic ad agencies in a disadvantaged position, or so the thinking goes.

Indeed, in the ad industry, where the future of the ad agency model isconstantly being examined, consulting firms have become the new bogeyman. Fair or not, firms like Accenture and IBM are seen as having a better claim on driving real business results in an industry known for making pretty ads and making sure they get where they are supposed to.

What’s so great about consultants?

Greg March, the CEO of the independent ad agency Noble People, summed up the conventional wisdom regarding consulting firms as thus: “They’ve got MBAs, they’ve got money for days, and they have access to the C-suite decision makers.”

Consulting giants have also been making lots of acquisitions in this sector of late; last year, Deloitte bought the San Francisco creative agency Heat, reported Adweek.

During an interview at the Cannes ad festival in June, Michael Kassan, CEO of the ad advisory firm Medialink, even predicted that a giant consulting firm would end up buying one of the big four ad agency holding companies like WPP or Publicis.

“The real difference is, we bring a few things they don’t have,” said Donald Brady, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP and Customer Experience Innovation Leader at Deloitte Digital. “We have deep industry expertise and can handle complex technical solutions. [Agencies] are coming from creative world. They don’t have the depth or scale.”

Brady noted that Deloitte last year recorded $37.8 billion in revenue and has a presence in over 150 companies. DeloitteDigital alone has  10,000 employees in 48 countries.

By nature, companies like Deloitte see themselves as playing a more integral role in helping assess and improve their clients’ businesses that goes well beyond marketing.

“Our clients come to us with really big challenges. Transformational challenges,” said Oliver Page, Principal at Deloitte Digital. Transformational challenges such as changing the way people order and pay for food in thousands of restaurants – a behavior which is increasingly becoming the central way people interact with many brands.

Page said that in the quick service restaurant category, it’s very early but in some cases ordering via apps is accounting for 1% of a company’s business. Chains like Panera Bread have seen digital ordering take off, as Business Insider reported in June.

“That channel really is becoming a huge revenue driver for restaurants,” said Page.

“It’s moving quickly. What you end up having when you interact with your customers is a much richer data set. That’s what is unique [about what we do]. Making ordering easier or more convenient is what consumers are looking for, and it is what the brand represents. And making these things work in the real world, it’s not easy.

“This is a testament to where the market is going,” Page added.

Left brain vs. right brain

Perhaps. For his part, March argued that both ad agencies and consulting firms have their natural strengths and weaknesses, and that each side’s weaknesses can be addressed by hiring different types of people.

He admits to being biased, but he believes it will be easier for ad agencies to hire more analytic-driven people than for consulting firms to get more creative.

“From what I’ve heard from people who have worked on both sides, the consulting firms are not really strong on how to engage creatively,” he said. “A culture of creativity is really hard.”

March said that agencies are hardly bereft of offering their clients potential ways to change their businesses. The question is, do they know how to execute them?

At the same time, consultants have to prove they can deliver on ad campaigns that work. “The knock on these guys has always been, they give you decks and then leave,” March said. “They’ve got to change that. If you are going to charge somebody $2 million for a strategy that’s one thing, but now they are going to have to execute.”

Gene Liebel, co-founder of the digital agency Work and Co, which works with Facebook, Apple and Marriott, and others, agreed that in 2017 more marketers need help building digital tools to help them directly interact with their consumers. But he also doubted whether consulting firms are up to the task of handling the little things, or can attract the right talent to deliver.

“Someone still has to do the hard work of designing and building successful digital services, and that execution piece is what’s actually the toughest,” he said. “The talent pool for the best engineers and best digital designers is surprisingly small, and those people are drawn to places where they can go beyond just concepting great digital experiences. They want to make real things. And actually witness their ideas make it out into the world to be used by real consumers.”

In other words, Chipotle’s app better work really well. Or like many marketers, the company might soon be looking for a new agency.

This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2017.

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Huge consulting firms see an opportunity to displace out of touch advertising agencies — and they’re taking it

Business Insider

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Alicia Hatch Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte Digital
Alicia Hatch Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte Digital. Photo courtesy Deloitte Digital
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Advertising is no longer just the domain of Madison Avenue agencies.

Instead, data-rich consulting firms including Deloitte, Accenture and IBM have been moving into the business — pitching themselves as more strategic and tech-savvy advisors. 

While most agencies view these tech consultants as a looming threat, the marketing head of Deloitte Digital doesn’t quite view it as a zero-sum game. Still, she does believe that many advertisers’ needs are no longer being addressed with legacy tactics.

Business Insider caught up with Deloitte Digital CMO Alicia Hatch during Advertising Week last week for a chat about why there’s ample space for both ad agencies and consultancies in advertising. Here’s an edited version of the conversation.

Tanya Dua: You’ve been on an agency acquisition spree over the past few years. Where do consultancies like yours fit in the advertising landscape?

Alicia Hatch: The needs of brands have changed dramatically. Every single industry out there is getting disrupted, and advertising is no exception. So this isn’t about consulting coming in to enter a new market, this is about consulting responding to the needs of brands changing.

The needs of big companies are changing dramatically. We are in the business of making them better. What that requires now is working across the entire business. You can’t do marketing in isolation, separate from sales and service and business model innovation and customer model innovation…Deloitte Digital is in the business of business outcomes. That’s what we do.

Dua: What specific changes in the industry are you responding to?

Hatch: The role of the chief marketing officer is changing. The CMO is playing a completely different role in the C-suite and in the boardroom now. Over 70% of CMOs now own [balance sheets], which is a huge difference from the days of being marketing as a cost center. So they have to wear a business hat and think very differently about how they are orchestrating all of their activities.

The big shift is that technology budgets are moving over to CMOs, and that’s another change in how they’re operating. The best CMOs right now are using data very effectively at scale, fueled by that technology, to do really precise and powerful marketing that drives growth. So they can actually pinpoint the business impact of what they’re doing.

When you as a CMO can be the growth driver of the business, you have a whole new power. To empower that generation of CMOs, you need a much broader base of capabilities and understanding of business and technology strategy, understanding of depth, data and analytics — that is not what the agency model was built on originally.

We are having to save a lot of companies. 40% of all Fortune 500 companies today will not exist in 2025.

Dua:  Agencies haven’t exactly welcomed consultancies into the mix. Are they justified in being threatened and accusing consultancies of buying creativity and culture?

Hatch: Creativity is the most important business skill in the 21st century.  And the role that creativity plays in a business, is expanding….Historically, it was always an outsourced model, where you send the work out to the agency and you get the deliverables back. So what we’re trying to do is expand the role of creativity. And in that, there’s room for a new model. That’s what we have to add to the industry. What is at play here is that the whole industry is changing, and we just all need to focus on what those changes are, and shift.

Dua: Give me an example of that. What does that new model look like?

Hatch: An insurance company that we work with wanted to rethink its retirement business because they realized that in fact, millennials don’t really care about retirement and don’t want to engage in a conversation about retirement. The advertising creative that they had so far didn’t work because the positioning they had and the topic itself was outdated for the modern consumer.

Our approach was to approach the business differently. We brought in a group of business strategists, creatives, technology strategists and design experts in a room together. We invented a new business concept that we set up within this insurance company, which is a whole new business platform about how you deliver and talk about retirement and start making it relevant to millennials in their 40s, in their 30s.

We found through our research that the concepts of health and wealth are inextricably linked. Instead of just applying that insight to a [single ad], we completely changed how that product was delivered, setting up a whole new division within the company with all of our capabilities coming together to actually enable a whole new business.

Dua: What do you think you do better than agencies?

Hatch: It’s incredibly important now to understand the industry you exist in, as well as the shifts in other industries. This is super important to us in helping brands innovate and deliver their messages. It’s a really important part of business strategy that consulting firms and we have the most depth in. That’s the big difference in terms of what we bring to the table and how strategic we can be.

It’s also about technology horsepower….Both the depth and breadth of our technology capabilities set us apart.

Dua: Yet agencies say that they’re seeing consultancies in pitches, but they’re not winning as any yet. And even when they are, they haven’t seen creative come out of the wins. How do you respond to that?

Hatch: I think one thing that’s true is that historically, agencies have been very, very public about their work. That’s how they build their brands. We’re the opposite. We actually work so deeply within companies and have so many [non-disclosure agreements], that we are not used to taking about ourselves or our work. We’re doing the work, just not screaming about it from the rooftops.

Dua: How much of your job involves you trying to change the perceptions surrounding consultancies? Do consulting firms have a branding problem?

Hatch: Contrary to what is said, we have no trouble on actually attracting talent. It is more of a problem on the client side. We are a legacy company as well, historically known for our numbers DNA. There’s definitely a perception challenge.

I think the biggest challenge is communicating our vision for how the old model needs to be redefined. We don’t think that the old model of advertising is what marketers need moving forward, so what we’re trying to communicate is this bigger vision.

This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2017.

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