Learn More About Reid Blackman
There’s no doubt that advancements in artificial intelligence have pushed our society to the next level of technological breakthroughs. Exciting developments in finance, healthcare, education and more have taken humanity to new heights in speed and productivity. While machine learning and AI create a world of opportunities for innovators, they also present new risks with the potential to impact business and relationships.
Reid Blackman, Ph.D., knows the landscape of ethical risk inherent in organizations, particularly in AI programs, and specializes in building practical frameworks for responsible innovation and supporting organizations as they create and deploy AI for “not bad.”
An entrepreneur and former philosophy professor, Blackman is captivated by the ethics of emerging technologies. As founder and CEO of Virtue, a digital ethical risk consultancy, he is an authority on creating and scaling AI and digital ethical risk programs. He is relied upon by Fortune 500 and Global 1000 companies, including AWS, US Bank, EY, Deloitte and Anglo American, for his scalable cross-functional plans that leverage existing infrastructure and operationalize ethics practices. Blackman also offers advice for blockchain developers and users interested in avoiding threats like bad governance or privacy violations.
“Most people are afraid of AI ethics because they don’t understand the problems in the risk landscape. Once you see the issues, you’ll draw the same conclusions,” encourages Blackman, who advises the Canadian government on their federal AI regulations. By understanding the sources of risk, he emphasizes, organizations can avoid critical pitfalls as they scale AI and machine learning programs. His new book, “Ethical Machines: Your Concise Guide to Totally Unbiased, Transparent, and Respectful AI” (Harvard Business Review Press, July 2022) breaks the complex topic of AI ethics down into understandable, actionable and achievable components, including articulating the seven elements of an effective and efficient AI ethical risk programs. Called a “fresh contribution to the complex challenge of putting AI ethics into practice,” the book tackles the big three AI risks — bias, explainability and privacy — and tells you what to do (and what not to do) to mitigate them.
Moving beyond ethical practices and processes for AI, Blackman argues that the same frameworks can also apply to an entire organization. He recommends putting scalable ethical infrastructures, processes and practices in place to encourage innovation leaders and teams as they grow. His pioneering principles support leaders working closely with data scientists and developers, giving them organizational pathways to answer tough questions about emerging technologies, curbing offensive behavior in the workplace, and more.
“A good deal of organizations don’t know the ethical risks they’re exposed to, and they don’t know how to tackle them,” Blackman cautions. “If companies don’t get their ethical houses in order, they’re going to be in trouble.”
Despite the inherent ethical challenges in using the newest technologies, Blackman’s straightforward and no-nonsense approach helps companies detect ethical smoke before fires start, accomplishing their core functions using the newest technologies while maintaining a creative, innovative and ethically sound organization.
“Operationalizing data and AI ethics is not an easy task,” Blackman admits. “Companies that make the investment, however, will not only see mitigated risk but also more efficient adoption of the technologies they need to forge ahead.”
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Reid Blackman, Ph.D., is the founder and CEO of Virtue, a digital ethical risk consultancy, and is the author of “Ethical Machines: Your Concise Guide to Totally Unbiased, Transparent, and Respectful AI,” published by Harvard Business Review Press. He has served as a Senior Advisor to the Deloitte AI Institute, a founding member of Ernst & Young’s AI Advisory Board, and volunteers as the Chief Ethics Officer to the non-profit, Government Blockchain Association.
Blackman’s work has been profiled in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and many other publications, and he has contributed multiple pieces to Harvard Business Review, TechCrunch and VentureBeat. He has been quoted in dozens of news articles, and he regularly speaks internationally to audiences including the World Economic Forum, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, SAP, Cannes Lions, Forbes, Amazon Web Services, NYU Stern School of Business, Columbia University and NASA.
Prior to founding Virtue, Blackman was a professor of philosophy at Colgate University and the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. His research has appeared in numerous prestigious professional journals including the European Journal of Philosophy, The Canadian Journal of Philosophy and Erkenntnis. He also founded a fireworks wholesaling company and was even a flying trapeze instructor. He received his bachelor’s from Cornell University, his master’s from Northwestern University and his doctorate from The University of Texas, Austin.
Reid Blackman is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.
Manage and Minimize Risk When Using Generative AI Tools
Generative AI tools promise to increase the speed of doing business, but as work gets faster, ethical and business risks are likewise automated at scale. Reid Blackman, Ph.D. is a renowned AI ethicist who specializes in building practical frameworks for responsible innovation and supporting organizations as they create and deploy AI for “not bad.” In a recent New York Times op-ed, Reid advises organizations that, if not vetted and used properly, generative AI can act as a Trojan horse for your organization, putting it at risk of losing the trust of its clients and customers.In translating complicated concerns to questions about business values and choices, Blackman makes it straightforward for organizations to make the right decisions when they weigh their generative AI options.
Ethical Machines: Managing and Minimizing Risk When Building & Scaling AI Systems
Artificial intelligence and machine learning systems promise to increase the speed of doing business, automating decisions and removing human effort. As work gets faster, ethical and business risks like bias or privacy concerns are likewise automated at scale. Are you prepared to take on those risks? Reid Blackman, Ph.D., moves the complex topic of AI ethical risk from an academic curiosity to business necessity. “Companies are going to do what they need to do with AI to improve their bottom line, but along the way, they shouldn’t put their brand, let alone people, at risk,” Blackman advises. In this presentation based on his new book “Ethical Machines: Your Concise Guide to Totally Unbiased, Transparent, and Respectful AI,” he identifies the Big Three areas of ethical risk to companies as bias, explainability and privacy, then provides straightforward strategies to mitigate them. In translating complicated concerns to questions about business values and choices, Blackman makes it straightforward for organizations to make the right decisions when installing AI governance programs.
AI for Not Bad: Frameworks, Strategies & Solutions for Ethical AI Programs
Once solely the domain of academics, conversations about the ethics of artificial intelligence now permeate all levels of our society. Discriminatory and privacy-invading practices have led to deep trust violations, hurting businesses and customers alike. It’s become essential for organizations to install systems to keep their reputations, regulatory compliance and legal standing safe. Reid Blackman, Ph.D., is a visionary expert in AI ethical risk who helps put the processes in place for AI to advance your company’s objectives instead of undermining them. Pointing to the need for ethics education at all levels, Blackman advises, “It’s unwise of organizations to put the burden of understanding complex ethical concerns on data scientists, especially when they’re asked to make these important decisions without any knowledge of the potential damage of those choices.” His interactive and straightforward presentations make complex topics like black boxes or algorithmic bias accessible by technical and non-technical teams alike, transforming ethics from “ivory tower thinking” to actionable and empowering AI management processes. “Operationalizing data and AI ethics is not an easy task,” Blackman admits. “Companies that make the investment, however, will not only see mitigated risk but also more efficient adoption of the technologies they need to forge ahead.”
Mitigating Ethical Risk in the Age of Quantum Computing
The age of quantum computing is nearly upon us. While this new technology will bring innumerable benefits like expediting drug discovery, helping fight climate change or optimizing supply chains to the world, it also poses considerable ethical risk. Reid Blackman, Ph.D., a pioneering expert in understanding and mitigating the inherent dangers presented by emerging tech, is helping organizations prepare for the coming quantum future. An authority on creating and scaling digital ethical risk programs, Blackman brings a level-headed and easily-understood introduction to what quantum computers are and how they differ from classical supercomputers. His thorough understanding of how quantum technology increases the ethical risks pertaining to cybersecurity threats, privacy violations and black box models helps teams do appropriate due diligence when launching new projects. As access to increasingly powerful technologies becomes more common and customers demand trusted products and services, Blackman’s risk mitigation strategies will keep organizations informed, safe and protected.
Linking Blockchain Technology to Established Ethical Practices
Blockchain promises to be a transformative technology on the cusp of the next innovation wave. As interest in blockchain rises, so too do risks like bad governance, lack of third-party protections and privacy violations, making it imperative that businesses address them before they become a problem. Reid Blackman, Ph.D. is passionate about stopping these risks from affecting blockchain programs before they start. “The world of blockchain is both a game changer and uncharted territory,” Blackman reminds us. “Anyone charged with protecting their corporate brand from ethical, reputational, legal and economic harm had better pay careful attention to what they do in this world and with whom they do it.” In this presentation, Blackman draws on his experience as the Chief Ethics Officer of the non-profit Government Blockchain Association and the risk mitigation strategies described in his book, “Ethical Machines: Your Concise Guide to Totally Unbiased, Transparent, and Respectful AI” (July 2022) to deliver practical ethical frameworks for blockchain developers and users. Noting that the ethical, reputational, legal and economic risks in blockchain can be significant, he maintains that identifying who is responsible for those risks is a key element of improving the efficiency, security and trust in the new technology. In posing important questions about edge cases, governance structures and oversight in blockchain, Blackman ensures organizations keep their corporate values, stakeholders and brand top-of-mind.
Don’t Be “One F-Bomb Away from a Lawsuit”: Processes & Practices for Organizational Ethics
Many organizations take advantage of loose company culture to spur collaboration, creativity and innovation with colleagues. Unfortunately, a too-easygoing workplace can lead to unwanted situations. As one CEO recently complained, “We feel like we’re one f-bomb away from a lawsuit.” How can leaders institute ethical behavior while retaining camaraderie and keeping the creative juices flowing? Reid Blackman’s two-part approach operationalizes risk mitigation, taking lofty principles down to earth to become substantive action. Passionate about avoiding “unsystemic, whack-a-mole strategies,” Blackman helps organizations articulate their core values in an ethics statement that goes beyond the boilerplate to a living document of guiding principles. From there, Blackman articulates each value, taking them from concepts listed on a website to an actionable infrastructure of processes and practices. “Once an organization’s core values are fully realized,” Blackman says, “your positive ethical values will help your recruiting, your retention and ultimately your bottom line.”
When Data Science Shortcuts Are A Bad Idea
February 3, 2023
The Signal App and the Danger of Privacy at All Costs
December 28, 2022
The Risks of Empowering “Citizen Data Scientists”
December 13, 2022
When - and Why - You Should Explain How Your AI Works
August 31, 2022
Book Interview: How AI Can Be a Force For “Not Bad"
August 10, 2022
Why You Need an AI Ethics Committee
July 5, 2022
Building Transparency Into AI Projects
June 20, 2022
How to Implement AI Ethics in a Company, Part 2
June 7, 2022
How to Implement AI Ethics in a Company, Part 1
June 6, 2022
Why Blockchain’s Ethical Stakes Are So High
May 10, 2022
Ethics and AI: 3 Conversations Companies Need to Have
March 21, 2022
A Practical Guide to Building Ethical AI
October 15, 2020
Ethical Machines: Your Concise Guide to Totally Unbiased, Transparent, and Respectful AI
(Harvard Business Review Press, July 2022)
Reasons For Emotion and Moral Motivation
(Canadian Journal of Philosophy, January 2020)
Reid Blackman, Ph.D.’s mission is to enable others to make informed and wise decisions regarding emerging technologies. As he does in his new book, “Ethical Machines: Your Concise Guide to Totally Unbiased, Transparent, and Respectful AI” (Harvard Business Review Press), he removes the fog from the landscape of risks inherent in artificial intelligence programs, then provides a path to proactive strategies for mitigation. By guiding teams as they think deeply about their industry or organization-specific risks, Blackman helps them articulate the important ethical and reputational business questions they couldn’t ask before. “Once the questions become clear,” Blackman advises, “It’s easy to devise strategies to address them.”
His interactive and customizable workshops offer technical and non-technical teams the opportunity to understand the difference between “AI for good” and “AI for not bad,” supporting organizations’ creative and innovative growth while keeping them true to their core values. Topics covered in Blackman’s half- and full-day workshops can include:
- Lifting the Fog on AI Ethics
- Building an AI Ethical Risk Program
- Solving for Biased AI
- Organizational Ethics
- Looking Inside the Black Box
- Guiding Principles for Blockchain
- The Evolving Digital Landscape and its Ethical Risks: AI, Blockchain, Quantum, AR/VR, and the Metaverse
“Finally! A book that demystifies how to responsibly manage AI and does it in an engaging, succinct, and practical way. This is a must-read for anyone embarking on a machine learning journey. Blackman is a true expert in AI ethics, and this book is an indispensable resource.”
“An excellent read that turns a complex topic into understandable and actionable components. Business leaders need to understand that AI ethics isn’t just hand-waving. It poses real risks to brand and profit. Fortunately, Blackman is outstanding at laying out how you should think about AI ethics and the steps you should take.”
“Reid Blackman’s new book, ‘Ethical Machines,’ is a fresh contribution to the complex challenge of putting AI ethics into practice. Using vivid examples and accessible storytelling, Blackman introduces an actionable framework for comprehensive ethical risk management that will help companies avoid critical pitfalls as they incorporate AI into their products and processes.”
“Companies of all stripes are increasingly looking to use AI and hoping to build it ethically and responsibly. In this charming book, Reid Blackman provides practical guidance to turn these hopes into a reality.”