Sony Group's Initiatives for Responsible AI
Sony, with the aim of utilizing AI technology to enrich people's life styles and contribute to the development of society, will pursue accountability and transparency while actively engaging in dialogue with stakeholders. We will continue to promote responsible AI in order to maintain the trust of products and services by stakeholders.
Sony Group AI Ethics Guidelines
Sony established the Sony Group AI Ethics Guidelines in September 2018.
Through the utilization of artificial intelligence (AI), Sony aims to contribute to the development of a peaceful and sustainable society while delivering kando - a sense of excitement, wonder or emotion - to the world. Starting from the electronics business, Sony has continued to expand its business area and has become a diverse global company that offers entertainment such as music and movies, as well as financial services. To operate these business areas based on Sony's Purpose to "Fill the world with emotion, through the power of creativity and technology.", Sony Group AI Ethics Guidelines are hereby set forth below to ensure and promote a dialogue with various stakeholders and the proper utilization and research and development ("R&D") of AI within Sony Group.
Through advancing its AI-related R&D and promoting the utilization of AI in a manner harmonized with society, Sony aims to support the exploration of the potential for each individual to empower their lives, and to contribute to enrichment of our culture and push our civilization forward by providing novel and creative types of kando. Sony will engage in sustainable social development and endeavor to utilize the power of AI for contributing to global problem-solving and for the development of a peaceful and sustainable society.
In order to solve the challenges arising from use of AI while striving for better AI utilization, Sony will seriously consider the interests and concerns of various stakeholders including its customers and creators, and proactively advance a dialogue with related industries, organizations, academic communities and more. For this purpose, Sony will construct the appropriate channels for ensuring that the content and results of these discussions are provided to officers and employees, including researchers and developers, who are involved in the corresponding businesses, as well as for ensuring further engagement with its various stakeholders.
Sony understands the need for safety when dealing with products and services utilizing AI and will continue to respond to security risks such as unauthorized access. AI systems may utilize statistical or probabilistic methods to achieve results. In the interest of Sony's customers and to maintain their trust, Sony will design whole systems with an awareness of the responsibility associated with the characteristics of such methods.
Sony, in compliance with laws and regulations as well as applicable internal rules and policies, seeks to enhance the security and protection of customers' personal data acquired via products and services utilizing AI, and build an environment where said personal data is processed in ways that respect the intention and trust of customers.
In its utilization of AI, Sony will respect diversity and human rights of its customers and other stakeholders without any discrimination while striving to contribute to the resolution of social problems through its activities in its own and related industries.
During the planning and design stages for its products and services that utilize AI, Sony will strive to introduce methods of capturing the reasoning behind the decisions made by AI utilized in said products and services. Additionally, it will endeavor to provide intelligible explanations and information to customers about the possible impact of using these products and services.
People's lives have continuously changed with the advance in technology across history. Sony will be cognizant of the effects and impact of products and services that utilize AI on society and will proactively work to contribute to developing AI to create a better society and foster human talent capable of shaping our collective bright future through R&D and/or utilization of AI.
AI Ethics: Promotion & Projects
As we at Sony work to promote greater research and development into and active use of AI, we are also ensuring that this research, development and utilization is socially and ethically appropriate according to the Sony Group AI Ethics Guidelines, and examined from a variety of perspectives. That is the role of the Sony Group AI Ethics Committee. In order to implement our Guidelines, we maintain intra-company education & awareness efforts as well as assessment systems & processes. Furthermore, in order to respond flexibly to changing AI technologies and societal realities, we are committed to continuously refining and improving the committee's structure and efforts.
Using the Sony Group AI Ethics Guidelines as our base, we are working to deepen Group members' understanding of AI ethics through awareness-raising educational programs, including those using e-learning, as well as lectures and symposiums featuring talks by outside experts.
Sony has built a quality-management structure and the necessary system of internal rules to manage the entire process of product services, from planning, development, design and manufacturing through sales and customization. In each business unit that uses AI, whether in product services or for internal processes, we establish horizontal cooperation between the quality control organization at corporate headquarters as well as the relevant divisions of corporate headquarters that deal with legal issues, privacy, human rights and so on, and collect data on relevant use cases. At the same time, we have begun developing an AI ethics risk assessment framework for the planning, design and inspection phases of product services, and employing it on a trial basis in AI-related projects.
Along with the above quality-management process, we are currently building a "checklist" tool (for risk specification, analysis, evaluation and response planning) meant to ensure that a given product/service is aligned with the policies of the Sony Group AI Ethics Guidelines.
We have built up technological tools and datasets, such as eXplainable AI (XAI), which makes visible how machine learning works, and systems that protect against malicious attacks. By combining these with the aforementioned assessment procedure, we support internal development of AI in two ways. We are also offering some of these technologies as solutions to external partners.
One of them is the Neural Network Console, a tool that makes possible the development of advanced AI through deep leaning, no coding necessary. The Neural Network Console enables deep learning R&D simply by dragging and dropping on a computer. It comes equipped with eXplainable AI (Grad-CAM, LIME), which can visualize how Deep Neural Networks make their decisions.
Another is Prediction One. This software makes it easy, even without any specialized knowledge, to perform predictive analysis using AI. Prediction One can visualize the factors that have a significant impact on a prediction, which allows the user to make educated guesses about how the prediction was made.
Domestic & International Partnerships
In May 2017, Sony became the first Japanese company to join the Partnership on AI to Benefit People and Society, a non-profit organization created to contribute to solutions to some of humanity's challenging problems through efforts including advancing the understanding of AI and addressing ethics surrounding AI technology. Sony chaired the Social and Societal Influences of AI Working Group, which focuses on the social impacts of AI, and currently serves as an expert advisor to the organization. Sony also serves on the steering committee of ABOUT ML, an initiative to improve the transparency of machine learning.
Sony is a participant in the Global Partnership on AI, an international initiative begun in June 2020 to promote the development and utilization of AI based on human-centric principles, and serves as a member of the AI and Pandemic Response Subgroup, which aids the development of responsible AI solutions for epidemics of infectious disease such as COVID-19.
Sony is a member of the AI Strategy Expert Meeting for the Strengthening and Promotion of Innovation, a blue-ribbon panel inaugurated in 2018 by Japan's Cabinet Office, and is currently serving as vice-chair of the Council for Social Principles of Human-centric AI, also run by the Cabinet Office. In addition, Sony is currently a member of the "Conference toward AI Network Society", a group within Japan's Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications that has as its goal the comprehensive study and discussion of the social, economic, ethical and legal factors involved in the promotion of AI networks throughout society as a whole. Sony has also served as chief examiner on the Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) task force that published "AI Utilization Strategy" in February 2019, a document that offers guidance on the creation of an "AI-ready" society.
(Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications website)
Sony closely monitors evolving trends in international standardization of AI technology, including trends related to ethics. For example, Sony is a participant in ISO/IEC JTC 1/SC 42: Artificial Intelligence, a subcommittee established in April 2018 by ISO/IEC, itself a joint technical committee of the ISO that undertakes international standardization efforts related to information technology.
Related Sony Group Initiatives
Integrity and Sincerity are the key Values to achieving Sony's Purpose. The Sony Group Code of Conduct sets forth a standard of daily behavior based on these Values. The Code of Conduct supports Sony's value creation and serves as the basis for earning the trust for the Sony brand through the ethical and responsible conduct of every Sony Group employee.
Sony's policy on respect for human rights is stipulated in the Sony Group Code of Conduct. All Group companies are required to respect human rights and conduct sincere business operations in accordance with this policy and any related laws and regulations. In regards to ethical issues related to the use of AI, we are responding sincerely from the perspective of fairness and transparency while engaging in dialogue with stakeholders.
Sony, with regard to its philosophy and basic policy on product quality and customer service, aims to improve quality and customer service from the customer's point of view in a way that can provide customers with a sense of "satisfaction", "trust", and "safety".
In order to protect the privacy and personal information of customers, employees and other stakeholders, Sony carries out continuous activities under a system of governance over the entire Group in such a way that allows us to effectively manage potential risks and incorporate measures to protect privacy into our systems and products, and we are working hard on the utilization of AI as part of these activities.