The Search for the Holy Grail of Trust in AI

Today there is a comprehensive list of attempts from industry, academia and governments to build the foundations of trust in the technology of artificial intelligence. But in the end, what we want to know is quite simple: can we trust this AI ? To get to this simple answer is a highly complex and dynamic process and in some ways always fuzzy.

Do you trust your mother or your father ? The answer to this question might depend on a whole life spent with your parents, thousands of talks, situations and experiences, resulting in a simple yes or no. Seldomly you trust somebody or something just a little bit. Most of the time trust is a yes or know decision, yet very often based on an immense amount of details and dynamic evaluations.

Trust in AI is no different. In the end we don’t care about the details of this specific facial recognition application of the Chinese government, but we simply want to know if we can trust this application that it will not be deployed to do harm on the chinese people. How do we get there ?

Naturally this is complex mix comprising the whole lifecycle of an AI application, from non-bias in data gathering, non-discriminiation in algorithm building to stability and fault tolerance in deployment. Of course, this is only the tip of the iceberg and there might be hundreds of domains and indicators that should go into the evaluation of the trustability of an application.


Explainability, transparency, fairness and justice – the concepts are legion to evaluate ethical and trustable AI. But in the same way as for personal trust, trustable AI is embedded in a complex network dynamics of relations between concepts. Justice without fairness is not worth much and explainability without transparency will fail.

It is the interaction and relationships of different concepts and requirements that form the final decision to trust an AI. A thourough ethical evaluation will have to consider this dynamic network of requirements, and consequently a one-time effort will not do. It is probable that in the future the measurement of ethicality will become a permanent task of the overall company management as financial and production measurements are today.

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