Artificial intelligence appears poised to disrupt industries, improve customer outcomes, and enhance lives, and solutions based on AI are projected to contribute as much as $15 trillion to the global economy in 2030—more than the current output of China and India combined. The problem-solving potential of AI is seemingly limitless, and it may well change the way we work, travel, power our cities, diagnose disease, and organize our society.

And yet there are reasons to be cautious. Information is power, and that power can be used for good or for ill. In this episode, Brown Advisory’s Katherine Kroll explores the investor case for “ethical AI” and why failing to proactively ensure AI is used to help, not harm, is a material and salient risk not only to investment performance but to our society’s ability to thrive. She speaks with three of the foremost experts on ethical AI: Aza Raskin, co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology; Arathi Sethumadhavan, Ph.D., Head of User Research for Ethics & Society at Microsoft; and Kay Firth-Butterfield, Head of AI and Machine Learning, World Economic Forum.


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Episode Introduction

Right now, as you listen to this, there are computers and network servers all over the world pondering one topic: you. They are improving your life invisibly—streamlining traffic on your commute, helping drive down your utility costs, curating playlists on your favorite streaming app, and likely improving the health care diagnoses you receive. But to do this, they watch your face, the way you walk, how fast you type; they monitor your financial habits, the color of your skin; your social media activity, and then suggest content that might amplify or contort your existing views.

This reality is the basis for one of the most powerful technological revolutions in history: artificial intelligence—or AI. AI solutions could contribute $15 trillion to the global economy in 2030—more than the current economic output of China and India combined. But AI is often positioned as a binary choice: either glorified as our only hope to mitigate impending disasters, like climate change, or vilified for corroding our social fabric. Of course, the truth is much more complex.

I’m Katherine Kroll, and I’m an Investment Specialist at Brown Advisory – where we are enthusiastic investors in AI and the opportunities it creates. . We believe it is our job to understand and allocate capital to these opportunities—AND to understand the potential downside of the risks. Applying an ethical lens to AI positions us to maximize upside while recognizing that the bottom of AI is still unknown, and that we must be diligent in our efforts to learn as much of what is known as possible. That’s why we invited three experts on the topic to discuss why getting ethical AI right matters, and what might be at stake if we get it wrong.

Aza Raskin is the co-founder of the Center for Humane Technology (you might recognize him from the documentary, The Social Dilemma); Arathi Sethumadhavan, Ph.D., is Head of User Research for Ethics & Society at Microsoft; and Kay Firth-Butterfield, is Head of AI and Machine Learning, World Economic Forum. After talking with Aza, Arathi and Kay, I sat down with two of Brown Advisory’s technology analysts to dig into the investment implications. I wanted to start by asking Aza to begin with the basics.

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Kay Firth-Butterfield

Kay Firth-Butterfield

Head AI and Machine Learning, World Economic Forum

Head of Artificial Intelligence and a Member of the Executive Committee at the World Economic Forum; one of the foremost experts in the world on the governance of artificial intelligence (AI). Barrister, former Judge and Professor, technologist and entrepreneur who has an abiding interest in how humanity can equitably benefit from new technologies, especially AI. Associate Barrister (Doughty Street Chambers), Master of the Inner Temple, London and serves on the Lord Chief Justice’s Advisory Panel on AI and Law. Co-founded AI Global and was the world’s first Chief AI Ethics officer in 2014 and created the AIEthics twitter hashtag. Vice-Chair of The IEEE Global Initiative for Ethical Considerations in Artificial Intelligence and Autonomous Systems and was part of the group that met at Asilomar to create the Asilomar AI Ethical Principles. On the Polaris Council for the Government Accountability Office (USA), the Advisory Board for UNESCO International Research Centre on AI and AI4All. Advanced degrees in Law and International Relations and regularly speaks to international audiences addressing many aspects of the beneficial and challenging technical, economic and social changes arising from the use of AI.
Aza Raskin

Aza Raskin

Co-Founder, The Center for Humane Technology

Trained as a mathematician and dark matter physicist, Aza is also the co-founder of Earth Species Project, an open-source collaborative nonprofit dedicated to decoding animal communication. He has taken three companies from founding to acquisition, is a co-chairing member of the World Economic Forum’s Global AI Counsel, helped found Mozilla Labs, was named FastCompany’s Master of Design, and listed on Forbes and Inc Magazines 30-under-30. For Aza, the problem is especially personal: his father, Jef Raskin, created the Macintosh project at Apple with the vision that 'humane' technology should help, not harm, humans.



Katherine Kroll

Katherine Kroll

Director of Equity ESG Research and Strategy, Brown Advisory

Katherine is the Director of Equity ESG Research and Strategy. She is responsible for ESG integration, adoption and research across Brown Advisory’s institutional equity investment strategies. Additionally, she leads the ESG engagement strategy and supports the expansion of sustainable investment solutions at Brown Advisory. Previously, Katherine was an Investment Specialist for the Large-Cap Sustainable Growth Strategy and a Senior Institutional Sustainable Investing Specialist. She was recognized as SRI’s “30 Under 30” sustainable investing professionals and was a leader of Women Investing for a Sustainable Economy (WISE). Prior to joining Brown Advisory, Katherine led the shareholder advocacy efforts for Green Century Capital Management.



Investment Commentary

Victoria Avara

Victoria Avara

ESG Equity Research Analyst

Victoria joined Brown Advisory’s Equity Research team in 2019 focusing on ESG research and sustainable investing priorities. Victoria works broadly with the equity investment team to leverage ESG insights as a component of Brown Advisory’s bottom-up due diligence. Victoria joined Brown Advisory in 2016, serving as the firm’s Senior Equity Compensation Specialist. Prior to joining the firm, Victoria worked as a Senior Audit Accountant at SC&H Group Inc. in Sparks, Maryland.
John Canning, CFA

John Canning, CFA

Equity Research Analyst

John is a partner and equity research analyst at Brown Advisory. He focuses primarily on the software and service companies in the Technology sector.


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The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speaker(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of Brown Advisory. These views are not intended to be and should not be relied upon as investment advice and are not intended to be a forecast of future events or a guarantee of future results. The information provided in this podcast is not intended to be and should not be considered a recommendation or suggestion to engage in or refrain from a particular course of action or to make or hold a particular investment or pursue a particular investment strategy, including whether or not to buy, sell, or hold any of the securities mentioned. It should not be assumed that investments in such securities have been or will be profitable. There is a risk that some or all of the capital invested in any such securities may be lost. This piece is intended solely for our clients and prospective clients, is for informational purposes only, and is not individually tailored for or directed to any particular client or prospective client.

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