Responsible Bots: 10 Guidelines for Developers of Conversational AI
- Articulate the purpose of your bot and take special care if your bot will support consequential use cases.
The purpose of your bot is central to ethical design, and ethical design is particularly important when it is anticipated that a consequential use will be served by the bot you are developing. Consequential use cases include access to services such as healthcare, education, employment, financing or other services that, if denied, would have meaningful and significant impact on an individual’s daily life.
- Be transparent about the fact that you use bots as part of your product or service.
Users are more likely to trust a company that is transparent and forthcoming about its use of bot technology, and a bot is more likely to be trusted if users understand that the bot is working to serve their needs and is clear about its limitations.
- Ensure a seamless hand-off to a human where the human-bot exchange leads to interactions that exceed the bot’s competence.
If your bot will engage people in interactions that may require human judgment, provide a means or ready access to a human moderator.
- Design your bot so that it respects relevant cultural norms and guards against misuse.
Since bots may have human-like personas, it is especially important that they interact respectfully and safely with users and have built-in safeguards and protocols to handle misuse and abuse.
- Ensure your bot is reliable.
Ensure that your bot is sufficiently reliable for the function it aims to perform, and always take into account that since AI systems are probabilistic they will not always provide the correct answer.
- Ensure your bot treats people fairly.
The possibility that AI-based systems will perpetuate existing societal biases, or introduce new biases, is one of the top concerns identified by the AI community relating to the rapid deployment of AI. Development teams must be committed to ensuring that their bots treat all people fairly.
- Ensure your bot respects user privacy.
Privacy considerations are especially important for bots. While the Microsoft Bot Framework does not store session state, you may be designing and deploying authenticated bots in personal settings (like hospitals) where bots will learn a great deal about users. People may also share more information about themselves than they would if they thought they were interacting with a person. And, of course, bots can remember everything. All of this (plus legal requirements) makes it especially important that you design bots from the ground up with a view toward respecting user privacy. This includes giving users sufficient transparency into bots’ data collection and use, including how the bot functions, and what types of controls the bot offers users over their personal data.
- Ensure your bot handles data securely.
Users have every right to expect that their data will be handled securely. Follow security best practices that are appropriate for the type of data your bot will be handling.
- Ensure your bot is accessible.
Bots can benefit everyone, but only if they are designed to be inclusive and accessible to people of all abilities. Microsoft’s mission to empower every person to achieve more includes ensuring that new technology interfaces can be used by people with disabilities, including users of assistive technology.
- Accept responsibility.
We are a long way away from bots that can truly act autonomously, if that day will ever come. Humans are accountable for the operation of bots.
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