Generation Z’s tech-first mentality and emphasis on honesty and transparency has served as a tremendous accelerator of progress for the new age of digitalization––one that will be defined by artificial intelligence. However, as we all know, great power comes with great responsibility, and left unchecked, machine learning algorithms have the potential to cause harm on both a minor and major scale. As a result of this relevant concern, a movement towards explainable AI (XAI) has begun to grow, which advocates that AI should create more explainable and intuitive algorithms and models that are more understandable to humans. It is easy to see how AI can wreak havoc if it acts as a black box: imagine if you were a software engineer who fed data to an algorithm, of which you knew little about, and as a result, it ended up making false predictions that compromised your employer, and tarnished its name. Without XAI, scenarios like this (and worse), are capable of occurring. However, with Gen Z bringing its ammunition of transparency and honesty to the workplace, XAI can flourish.
Honesty is Key
Gen Z was labeled “The Honest Generation” by Futerra, a pioneering creative and sustainability agency focused on social impact. And as a Gen Z-er myself, I can state with complete certainty that this is the case. We value transparency in both societal and workplace settings, which is why frequent communication and updates must be a part of the new enterprise culture, and we tend to shy away from brands that have failed to disclose their true image to the public. For example, according to Food Industry Executive, “42% of Gen Z think that brands care about providing that honest information,” and “58% of both Millennials and Gen Z would trust a brand more if it shared challenges and ‘work in progress’ on difficult issues.” Transparency is a leading motivator in our purchasing and hiring decisions, and dishonesty serves as a complete deal breaker, no matter how sweet an offer might be. Now, let’s link this transparency conversation to XAI.
Gen Z + Transparency = XAI Efforts Get Boosted
As Gen Z begins to enter the workforce on an increasing scale, this new army of employees will join the digital economy with their own distinct set of preferences, one of which includes transparency. Moreover, we can expect that as Gen Z-ers become more and more involved with software teams and take lead on algorithm architecture, there will be both a natural and forced push towards XAI, as transparency at all levels of the work governance structure will be demanded. Furthermore, the collective voice of Gen Z-ers across enterprises, who will all strive towards the goal of complete workplace transparency, will also be instrumental in accelerating XAI implementations and transforming XAI into the industry standard.
Why XAI Is So Important
XAI is important in order to achieve stability, safety and effectiveness in AI implementations promulgated by organizations. Without the ability to understand what an algorithm does, results can be murky, thus harming the decision-making process, which could cost firms millions if not billions of dollars. And not only that, but if an AI decides to go rogue and spawn malicious cyber-attacks, it will be exponentially more difficult to attempt to solve the root cause of the problem when the engineers responsible have no idea how such a result could have occurred. Bottom line: the world is a much more dangerous place without XAI.
Thanks to the prioritization of transparency that Gen Z-ers champion, and their increasing prevalence in the new workforce, the movement to develop XAI into the industry standard can be greatly accelerated. The safety and stability of society matters now more than ever.