Chain Reactions

Are Supply Chain Organizations Ready to Answer Growing Call to Action Around AI Ethics?

In its report Ethically-Aligned Design for Business: A Call to Action for Businesses Using AI, the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems (A/IS) contends that the duty to implement AI ethically belongs to everybody who works with it.

The report states: “It is easy for anyone to say, ‘I am not an ethicist, so it is not my responsibility,’ but this is not solely about efficiency of business processes, but about holding the human at the center of all design. Designers, developers, and other stakeholders should never work in a vacuum and must always stay in tune with users’ needs and concerns for the entire lifespan of an AI-infused product or service…If you are working in the world of AI, you are, in fact, working for the future of humanity, so you need to embed ethics practices across all teams responsible for these types of systems.”

“This is not solely about efficiency of business processes, but about holding the human at the center of all design.”

Today’s supply chain leaders are in the unique position of not only deploying AI-enabled solutions and autonomous systems in their day-to-day endeavors, such as materials planning and warehouse operations, but may also be key stakeholders in the sourcing and supply chain strategies needed to bring these products and processes to the broader market. While it is “still early days” in the tech sector’s adoption and development of AI-based decision-making tools and autonomous systems, according to Gartner Distinguished Advisor Stan Aronow, now is the time “to assess and improve adherence to ethical AI guidelines” for strategies around AI, data and analytics, he advised in a blog late last year.


Aronow recommended supply chain leadership teams:
  • Create awareness and training on ethics for management teams and employees designing and implementing AI-related capabilities.
  • Use the AI ethics guidelines framework as a reference point and have a governance body monitor whether the continued learning of the AI-enabled systems strays from these guidelines.
  • Address specific ethical dilemmas by adding an AI ethicist to the team and/or by having a digital ethics advisory board.

As AI and autonomous systems continue to proliferate both our personal and professional lives, Avnet Velocity would like to get a sense of how you – our readers, peers, customers and suppliers – view the complicated issue of AI ethics. Please take a moment to share your thought on the following statements. Once you submit your feedback, a live tally of responses will update on the page.

If you would like to share additional thoughts or feedback on this topic with fellow readers, visit our Supply Chain Navigator LinkedIn page or reach out to members of the Avnet Velocity team via email.

SCN Reader Poll

All stakeholders throughout the end-to-end supply chain have a duty of care to consider, and work to minimize, potential biases/unintended consequences that might arise from AI-enabled products/services we help deliver to the market.

As a supply chain/operations executive, I feel that my team and I have a duty of care to consider the potential biases/unintended consequences that might arise from an AI-enabled product/service that we help source for our company.

As a supply chain/operations executive, I feel that my team and I are empowered to influence the development of the AI-enabled products or services my company produces.

Related Resources:

  • IEEE Position Paper: Ethically Aligned Design – A Vision for Prioritizing Human Well-being with Autonomous and Intelligent Systems
  • SCU Portal: Ethics in Technology Practice, Markkula Center for Applied Ethics
  • Harvard Gazette: Ethical Concerns Mount as AI Takes Bigger Decision-Making Role in More Industries
  • Framework: Artificial Intelligence Ethics Framework for the Intelligence Community
  • NXP White Paper: The Morals of Algorithms