Artificial intelligence has been the topic of countless Sci-Fi movies. There have been nearly ten Terminator movies or television shows so far, all using the same theory: AI will mean the demise of our race. While some have been saying that is a possibility, others have been quick to dismiss such claims. What is pretty obvious though, is that the advances made in the field cannot be ignored anymore, there are real concerns and we need to be prepared for whatever the future holds.

Thankfully, some companies working with AI are taking the concerns surrounding AI seriously. BMW has decided to take a first step in the right direction and, even though AI today is far from what people imagine based on the aforementioned Hollywood movies, the German brand decided to write an ethics code for the future. Right now, the Bavarian brand is already relying on some form of AI, to generate added value for customers, products, employees and processes. And while the applications may change over time, BMW says its focus will always be on people.

“Artificial intelligence is the key technology in the process of digital transformation. But for us the focus remains on people. AI supports our employees and improves the customer experience. We are proceeding purposefully and with caution in the expansion of AI applications within the company. The seven principles for AI at the BMW Group provide the basis for our approach,” said Michael Würtenberger, Head of “Project AI”.

Together with other companies and organizations, the BMW Group is involved in shaping and developing a set of rules for working with AI, and the company has taken an active role in the European Commission’s ongoing consultation process. Building on the fundamental requirements formulated by the EU for trustworthy AI, the BMW Group has worked out seven basic principles covering the use of AI within the company:

  • Human agency and oversight.
    The BMW Group implements appropriate human monitoring of decisions made by AI applications and considers possible ways that humans can overrule algorithmic decisions.
  • Technical robustness and safety.
    The BMW Group aims to develop robust AI applications and observes the applicable safety standards designed to decrease the risk of unintended consequences and errors.
  • Privacy and data governance.
    The BMW Group extends its state-of-the-art data privacy and data security measures to cover storage and processing in AI applications.
  • Transparency.
    The BMW Group aims for explainability of AI applications and open communication where respective technologies are used.
  • Diversity, non-discrimination and fairness.
    The BMW Group respects human dignity and therefore sets out to build fair AI applications. This includes preventing non-compliance by AI applications.
  • Environmental and societal well-being.
    The BMW Group is committed to developing and using AI applications that promote the well-being of customers, employees and partners. This aligns with the BMW Group’s goals in the areas of human rights and sustainability, which includes climate change and environmental protection.
  • Accountability.
    The BMW Group’s AI applications should be implemented so they work responsibly. The BMW Group will identify, assess, report and mitigate risks, in accordance with good corporate governance.

These will be continuously refined and adapted as required according to the multi-layered application of AI across all areas of the company. In this way, the BMW Group will pave the way for extending the use of AI and increase awareness among its employees of the need for sensitivity when working with AI technologies.