How to Keep Your Company’s A.I. From Being Creepy and Annoying

The more artificial intelligence knows, the creepier its technology grows.

In a recent interview with Mansueto Ventures CEO Stephanie Mehta at the Fast Company Innovation Festival, Lo Li, Capital One managing vice president, discussed how to keep your A.I. from feeling like it’s creeping on your customers’ privacy. According to Li, giving users robust customer privacy settings that allow them to control what data is being shared by their devices and applications is a necessity for any company incorporating that data into its operations. Li added that she regularly modifies the privacy settings on devices being used by her children in order to prevent their data from being collected. 

As a consumer, Li said she appreciates the personalization that a platform like Amazon delivers by analyzing her past purchases, but noted that this level of personalization comes at the price of users’ data. Rather than stripping back how much user data can be gathered from a device or an application, Li said that companies should focus their efforts on making data sharing privileges highly configurable to individuals.

Providing consumers with high levels of personalization can also help companies preoccupied with making their A.I. as non-annoying as possible.  As an example, we can look to Amazon Alexa’s “by the way” feature. After asking Alexa for the weather or status of an order, the digital assistant will often ask if you’re interested in something totally unrelated, such as if you’d like to have your horoscope read or if you’d like to check out the items currently sitting in your Amazon cart. The feature can only be turned off by diving into the settings on the Alexa mobile app. 

Why does Alexa do this? Machine learning algorithms are designed to be constantly searching for and gathering new data so that they can become smarter and better at running tasks. This desire to learn can quickly become a nuisance for consumers when they’re barraged with information they didn’t ask for. 

Artificial intelligence is only going to continue getting smarter, and as it becomes ubiquitous in daily life, the need for highly-customizable privacy and interaction settings will be obvious. By giving your consumers the ability to set the terms of their relationship with your A.I., you can ensure that they’ll get exactly the experience they’re looking for.

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